Thursday, May 20, 2010

I put my gloves up...then down again

I was a working Mom before we moved to the Philippines. I jumped into stay-at-home-motherhood the moment we got on the airplane and moved to Manila. I haven't looked back and regretted the decision once. I love being at home with my daughters. I love making their lunches and kissing their boo boos. I love the long drawn out tea parties, endless puzzles, Play Dough, books, games, and silliness. I love being the one to put my baby down for naps and the one to come and get her out of her crib when she wakes up. I love everything about raising my daughters and being able to do it at home with my time solely devoted to them. It was my decision (our decision as a family) and it was the right decision for me personally and for our family.

I definitely put myself in the open minded, liberal, feminist camp when it comes to family dynamics, women working, and mothers having the ability to choose for themselves (and their families) whether it's best for them to stay at home or work outside of the house. Women need to support one another more in their personal decisions about this issue instead of constantly battling with one another about who is doing it the right way. Women should own their decision to work outside of the home or be a SAHM. Own it and don't feel guilty either way.

Now that I have that off my chest...today was the first time I was confronted with a situation that put me on guard and ignited in me the desire to battle about this issue. I was talking casually with a working mom acquaintance of mine today after a meeting we had for a school issue. She knows I stay at home with my children and she was probably just making small talk since we don't know one another well. Out of her mouth comes "so what do you do at home all day, every day?" I didn't initially know how to answer the question because it seemed like way too complicated of an answer if I was to really explain what my 24/7 job was. Instead I told her that I am a Mom and that I have my girls at home all day every day. "Well don't you have help?" was her next question. Inevitably, if you are living overseas in a country like the Philippines the answer is "yes, of course, we have a helper. Everyone does." This is where I wanted to start the fight because obviously everyone uses their help differently and those of you who live in the States and are rolling your eyes at the idea of having a full-time, live-in maid/cook/whatever you want this helper to be, can not really relate to this defensive feeling that I am having at this moment in the conversation. Yes I have a helper, and yes she is wonderful, but she is not in charge of my children or my house. I am Mom in the house and I have made it a point to keep my household run by myself with the assistance of Cora not the other way around. It's why I choose to have only one helper in my home; not a cook, maid, and yaya all running around getting in my way as I wave my recently manicured hands around and direct my STAFF how to manage my children and house while I watch. Some women choose to have their homes run this way but I do not. I like to keep things as close to home as I can. Even if it means that our house gets messy and hectic. I personally like things a tad disheveled. That's REAL to me. All these things ran through my head as I tried to collect myself during this conversation. I couldn't help feeling a little judged. Oh, and btw I don't get manicures (just pedicures)

I was surprised that I had a hard time hearing that question. Now that I'm sitting in the SAHM camp it kind of feel crummy to hear that question from a working mom. I just took a few deep breaths and retreated to my corner of the ring at home where my girls were waiting for me.

3 comments:

Melinda Renee said...

Being a stay-at-home mom and running your house is a full time job, whether you have help or not... usually the people who end up asking questions in that manner are jealous or envious that your family is in a place where you can stay at home.

Don't take it personal, m'dear. I hear stories my mom tells of her maids, cooks, nannies, seamstresses... perfectly normal and culturally acceptable! She actually told me to warn you for the culture shock when you do come back to the states... even at the age of 5 she said it was an adjustment.

Lindsey Mae's Blog (Jess) said...

This post so eloquently details everything going on in my mind right now. We are at the point where we want to find a helper, but I'm debating in my mind how I want that to work, because I really don't want to give up some of my mom-duties.

The other night, I started making a list of the things that I want help with and the things that I still want to do here. I, too, like it a little disheveled, and I want to be the one to help Lindsey most of the time. (But I would also like to go to the gym and not have to deal with running errands!)

It seems strange that a mom/wife/family planner/organizer (all those things included in being married with children) would have to ask such a question, unless she is so removed from doing those duties that she really has no idea (which, to me, sounds kind of sad).

I guess everyone has their own way of doing things. Don't feel put down by her question; I think you are doing a great job with your girls and you seem to balance it all really well. :)

The Gunning Family said...

Sara,

This is an age old battle among women everywhere. I have been in your shoes, and unfortunately, with family members as well as non-family! You hit the nail on the head - twice! All women need to be supportive of one another and respect the individual decisions we make for our families. And, we all need to be senistive to those who have fewer choices in this regard. This issue will morph as the girls get older ... "you let her (insert here: watch, listen, wear, do, go, etc) that?" "I would never ..." You have to take a big deep breath and trust the decisions your family has made and know that it's what works for your family. And, the next time someone asks you such a personal question, respond with, "why do you want to know?"

You have the toughest job in the world, but its also the one job that will bring you the greatest rewards!

Love you all enjoy your time blending in back in the states!

Donna