4/19/10

Possibilities

I've been thinking about my last post a lot, often when catching myself labeling both my girls and my self. I think the most important thing I can do, for us all, is to speak in terms of circumstance and possibility. Of who and what we can be given the right situation. Because I've been struggling with labels for myself as well. I am not totally comfortable with the SAHM mantle. It feels like a limited, meaningless description.

Some days I order books from the library on managing this 24/7 mothering life like a high powered career. Other days, I look at a calendar and wonder when I will "go back to work". Of course, since we moved, there's not exactly a job to go back TO as I think the commute back to the Pilates studio in Pasadena would be a tad bit LONG. I'm sure I could find a job here doing something but it's not like I have a high-powered career just waiting for me to jump back in the game. And I'm not going to go back to work just to work at any old thing. So I try to take a breath and imagine all the possibilities and to recognize that I'm not ready yet, I'm just not there yet.

I try not to wince or stammer when announcing that "I'm at home for now" when meeting someone new. I know the SAHM label doesn't define me. I know it's not forever, or even, in the grand scheme of things, for very long.

So yesterday when Z described a classmate as "shy" and another as "a troublemaker", I challenged her labels. I told her he might be shy RIGHT NOW, in the moment, but maybe in other situations he can be out-going. I reminded her of all the times she felt shy or she made trouble but that didn't make her ALWAYS shy or a troublemaker FOREVER.

Right now, I am a SAHM. I have not ALWAYS been. I will not be FOREVER.

Z and E can be many, many things.

I can be many, many things, too.

13 comments:

Hillary said...

And meanwhile, I try not to get defensive when I tell people my boys are in daycare while I work.

Being sure in our choices is sometimes just as hard as remembering there are more choices to be had.

Grateful Twin Mom said...

So true, CBHM and Hillary. Isn't it interesting how all moms can feel anxious about their current situation? I love how you've seen it as possibilities. And you're instilling this wisdom upon your daughters. You are in a high powered career indeed.

Bird said...

I also shirk away from saying I'm a SAHM. I don't fit the mental image I have of someone who is a SAHM (though that image is probably circa 1985) so I end up coughing my way through some sort of answer. I do find it comforting to think that this is what I am doing right now, but it is not what I am doing forever.

Marie Green said...

I've clung to my job teaching child birth classes and being a doula (though both are extremely part time) for this reason, I think. I mean I enjoy them both... but I also like having an answer to that question "So, what do you do?". As a bonus, both of my jobs sound very interesting, so it totally deflects the fact that 95% of my time I'm a SAHM.

If I do admit to be a SAHM, I feel like I need to follow it up with "but I'm smart and educated and have lots of interests besides my childre!" WHY is that? I don't judge OTHERS who stay home....

LA and BD said...

I loved this post (and the one before it) so much. Your girls are so lucky to have a mom that takes the time to think about the labels. We all get labeled, and I think it's important that we remember that just because someone perceives us as "label A" doesn't mean that's who we are.

Also, I loved Hillary's comment so much about being sure in our choices that I printed it out and stashed it in my wallet.

Cortney said...

Hmmmmm.... I've been struggling in the opposite direction lately. I have a 5 year old and 4 month old AND a career that I am currently putting on hold that I spent time, blood, sweat and tears to attain (not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt). The more time I have between me and the career, the more I wonder about if it is the right path for me. I am loving staying home with my little ones and at the same time feeling guilty about not keeping up with my career. And all this is really making me question my identity. But as you said, we are so many things in this one life... as are our kids.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Bless you all for your comments, for making me feel less alone in this struggle.

It's also good for me to remember struggling with labels when I went back to work when Z was 16 months old. I always wanted to qualify that she went to a "GREAT daycare! And I LOVE my job!"

Sarah said...

I think that's a great idea, to encourage your kids to see that circumstances and phases of our life can change us and that what we are now we won't always be.
That's a great way for a mom to think, too. I try to remind myself of it all the time, as I too struggle with defining myself as a stay at home mom. Especially since I'm so young and never HAD a career (unless you count nannying) I feel that people think this is kind of it for me, that I'm where I will always be. And I don't think that's true. I wanted to have kids young, and then I want to go back to school and I want to find out what I want to do once my kids don't need me as much. I'm at home FOR NOW.

KG said...

I have been doing some writing lately about working with kids with learning disabilities, and this post reminds me of learning to use language around disabilities that acknowledges them as PART of our identities, not as the whole of them. As in: "He USES a wheel chair," instead of "He is wheelchair-bound." Or "She HAS learning (or physical or developmental) disabilities," rather then "She IS learning disabled." But it would sound weird to say "She HAS shyness." instead of "She IS shy." Hmm..

No point really, just mulling.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

KG: Some might think this is meaningless word-parsing but I disagree. Language is powerful. I think there's a bit difference between "He's shy" and "He CAN BE shy"!

clueless but hopeful mama said...

(In case it wasn't totally clear, KG, I was agreeing with you! OY SELF reread before hitting publish!)

ACCB said...

CBHM, I just found your blog and LOVED this post and the one before it. Thank you so much for raising these questions about the boxes we place around ourselves and our children, and how to think outside of them. Tough to do, but worth trying!

Astarte said...

I really relate to this. When I stopped going to work, I struggled with feeling less-than for a long time because I went from letting one label define me to another. Our society is so labelized that it's very difficult to stay away from all of that, but it's so detrimental to all of us not to. This post, and your last one, were just great.

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