Last night I went to see Divergent with the ladies in my book club. Before the movie we met for dinner and drinks and discussion. We talked about which faction we would be in (if you haven’t read the book, or seen the movie here’s a quick rundown: in a future Chicago, the city is divided into different factions – Erudite where everyone is smart, Abnegation where everyone is selfless, Dauntless where everyone is brave, Amity where everyone is kind, and Candor where everyone is honest).
We talked about the faction we would have chosen when we were 18, and the faction that we really belong in. (in the book and film the characters choose where they belong as teenagers… perhaps a reflection of the absurdity of choosing a major in college at such a young age.)
I don’t know where I belong. I am an eternal optimist, so that makes me feel like I should be in Amity. I like to think I’m kind of smart, so that makes me feel like I belong in Erudite. When I was 18, I thought I was pretty bad-ass, so I might have chosen Dauntless. I believe in the strength of truth, so maybe Candor.
But, I sort of feel like I’m trapped in Abnegation. I spend most of my days living the life of a two-year-old. The other days, I’m serving and teaching slightly older than two (but not necessarily mature-r) children.
I sat at dinner last night looking at, and listening to, amazingly smart professional women. I know how I must look to them. A mostly stay at home mom. A teacher. I am not oblivious to the fact that our society doesn’t respect the intelligence of teachers (if you can’t do, teach). I also get the ideas about a woman who spends her days with kids. I really do get it.
My life resolves around my kids. My main goal for each day is to entertain kids, keep them clean, maybe even clean up the house a little bit. I don’t spend the day expanding my brain, solving problems, creating things, even talking to adults. Sometimes I don’t get out of sweatpants. My vocabulary is very elementary. I talk about poop. I talk about poop a lot.
Anyway, abnegation. Some days I feel like my self is melting away. I can see myself blending into the lives of my children. If my daughter asks me to do something, I often do it. If my daughter has a two-year-old melt down, I am along for the ride. If my baby needs to nurse, that’s what I do. What would my dauntless 18-year-old self think of this?
I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here.
I know that I love how I am able to stay home with my kids. I love that I am giving them a great gift by doing this important job for them. I know that they will soon be grown up and gone, and I will look back on these days with shining rainbows and unicorns in my hindsight.
If you’re still reading, I’ll try to get to a point. I feel like I am missing something by not being a professional adult who spends time with other adults. I feel like I might be wasting some of my self by not being outside the home. But I also feel like there is no greater job than the one I have now – and no better place for me to be using my talents.
Now that you’ve read this far, I will tell you that I don’t have the answers. Just musings and questions. Let me know if you have the answers.
What an excellent post. I have so many thoughts. First, I’m so glad we are friends. I share many of these emotions, even now that I’m working. Feeling inadequate and devalued. I remember when I was home with O and we went to a doctor appointment, the lady asked me for my occupation and I wasn’t working. She goes “Oh, stay-at-home mom, hardest job there is!” And all I could think was, “you don’t believe that.” I didn’t really either. Now, however, I definitely do. It is so hard to be so selfless that you feel yourself melting away. It takes a strength of character that is extremely rare. But you, Carolyn, are so good at it. You have a talent for it. You are creative, you understand child development…it’s pretty amazing. Life is long though. I could see you taking all kinds of career paths. (Maybe not Dauntless-type careers though, those people are crazy.)
Also I like the new color scheme!
Thanks, Hannah! I like what you said,” It is so hard to be so selfless that you feel yourself melting away.” That is definitely not one of the things I would expect to be hard about being a stay-at-home mom. It’s funny that this all comes up to me right as I become a (temporarily) working mom.
I’m really glad we’re friends, too. 🙂 I am excited to celebrate you this weekend!
This is a challenge for any parent, including ones who also have work/career outside of family duties. I go through it sometimes too, and part of that may be because I work from home, and also spend a lot of time with C.
It’s important to be engaged with the kiddos, yes, but you need to be whole as well, and part of that is trying to figure out time for other things that matter to you.
It’s also a good example. My grandma told me she made it a priority to do things that mattered to her, so her two daughters would understand that you make time to do what you care about.
Maybe the big question is, can pinpoint what it is that you feel you’re missing out on? What would be one thing you’d really like to be doing more of?
For sure. This is totally not just for stay-at-home folks. I guess I need to figure out what I’m missing. Writing more has definitely helped!