Thursday, July 31, 2008

With my face in a book

I’m a mid-level tech geek and I do like to stay in the know about the fads but I’ve been avoiding Facebook for what seems like forever. Partly because it’s another time drain – but that never stopped me before. What appealed to me about Facebook was the opportunity to get in touch with some people that I fell out of touch with. Sometimes I feel like parts of my life didn’t even happen because I’m no longer in touch with any of the people from them – my days at Pitt and studying abroad in England specifically. But that getting in touch is also what was preventing me from joining. Namely answering questions about what I do.

I love being home with my boys. I am incredibly thankful for it everyday. Honestly I don’t know how I would juggle raising them and having a career. I imagine I’d be incredibly stressed out and feeling spread too thin. And their young years are such a gift. They are going by so fast and I’m lucky enough to have the chance to savor them. I AM happy with the choice I’ve made to stay home with them and generally happy with the job I’m doing. But when I think about reconnecting with someone and telling them that I’m “just a Mom” I have to admit I’m a bit ashamed. To the outsider I’m sure it doesn’t sound very exciting, unique or cool. And I fear that I will be perceived as merely stereotype and not an interesting person. I want to explain that I have a journalism degree and an interesting and varied employment history – that I live in the city and that it truly is our playground. That I’m still that girl who drove into Manhattan at 16 to see bands, that stayed out clubbing in London til the wee hours, that interviewed famous musicians and actors for my college newspapers, that took a break from college to live with and promote a rock band, that was eager to see the new theater piece, indie film, and eat in the new restaurant, that’s been to Paris and Marrakesh and wants to see the world. That’s me, I swear. I’m obviously feeling defensive at the prospect of being judged. And aren't I a little old to be feeling the need to convince others and myself that I'm at least a little cool? But when it comes right down to it I am that girl, and I’m also a Mama that’s at home – playing with Little People, transforming a cardboard box into a pet carrier, singing to The Backyardigans, planning tomorrow’s trip to the Natural History Museum. And I should be proud. And anyone I should really want to reconnect with would be able to understand all that. Or F off.


patrice said...

you know, it's funny - when becky stuart wrote to me (after the friending thing, we went back and forth) she said she's a SAHM but then wrote that before that, she taught for 9 years. like she wanted to make sure I knew that she did something. so I don't think you're the only one to be a little defensive about it.

of course, I can only really speak for myself and the people I know, but I know of no one who thinks that you're (or any other sahm) not doing anything. in fact, when I think about what you do, it makes me a little nervous and scared because it's one of those things I know I couldn't do. I just couldn't. I don't have the patience. which is horrible, because I ought to be able to do it. (I mean, I could, it's not like it's physically impossible, but I would never in a million years be as good at it or as fulfilled in it as you. and it would show. you'd come and visit me and I'd be dressed in tatters, kids running around with food smeared on their faces like warpaint, literally hanging from the ceiling, and I'd tell you how guilty I feel because I hate my job. sad. I feel horrible just saying it.)

aaaanyway, I can't speak for the rest of the world but I think sahm is like "wow, jesus, that's a tough job" and have mad respekt. plus, almost all the time, it's not a permanent thing and it's not what you started out doing. think about it - it'll be obvious that your kids are small, so you couldn't have been a sahm since you graduated unless you're insane and you just sat around in a mess of children's toys just....waiting.

and by this time, most of the people who have contacted me are in pretty much the same range of boats.

anyways, be proud of what you did and who you are. who cares if they know or not. coming from me to you...ha! still, it's true.

lonna said...

Things have changed a bunch since I have had Dermot. But I have to admit that before that I did judge my former classmates who are "just moms". I went to an expensive prep school for high school. We all went to college and I bet that more than half of us went to some sort of grad school. I know of 4 ph.d.s among the 300 graduates. There may be more, but most of the students choose the J.D. or M.D. route. So when I would see updates and see that some women were staying home to raise their kids. I was thinking that they threw away their parents' money.

Now, obviously my opinions have changed. I hate to say that I agree with Patrice about my personal choice. I would be an anxious/depressive mess if I stayed home. More importantly, my child would suffer because of that. My mom did that. I don't remember her doing very much with us as kids. I remember a lot of outdoor/unsupervised play and tv. You are obviously not doing that. I should point out that I wouldn't be a mess because of the "staying at home part". I would be a mess because I just don't think I'm very good at parenting. I am always doubting my decisions and I stress over every little thing as it is. If I had all of the responsibility of getting a child ready for kindergarten (pre-reading and pre-math skills as well as the self-control issues) I would be double guessing myself into the loony bin.

Now that I have a different view I realize that being a SAHM is what some moms "must" do. I really think it's just in them. You love it. You are good at it, and it's exactly what your family seems to need. I think that my family would suffer.

Another thing, about the coolness factor. There are all sorts of ways to show your coolness with your kids. You do a lot of it and don't realize it, I think. I've seen how you dress the boys. You lean toward a "rock aesthetic". You also take them to some off the beat track stuff. We have done a lot with books and movies. Dermot loves punk farm and punk farm on tour. I know that you've exposed the boys to some of that. You have also exposed them to a wider range of music than a lot of families do. That's how you are still expressing yourself.

I'm not a SAHM, and I don't get to see theater, movies, or bands play. I haven't done a single cultural thing since Dermot was born. Dermot has never had a babysitter outside of daycare. He's away from us for 40 hours a week. That's as much as we can handle apart as a family. If I had someone he knew extremely well, I might have them watch him. But that hasn't come up. I don't think it's a SAHM thing. I think it's a family thing. People make their choices about how and where they spend their time. I couldn't be one of those parents who regularly has someone watch their kid so that they can go out. Maybe when Dermot's a little older, but definitely not now.

Ah, as usual long and rambling.

Grandma said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Lonna - your 'coolness' and your personality are shining thru with your version of 'SAHM'. Most people think that means that you are home with you and the kids propped in front of the TV with a bag of chips. That is as far from your truth as you can get. You are exposing your kids to so much culture - and getting every benefit you can from the city. I think they need a new tag - CSM - Culture Savvy Mom!!

juliloquy said...

I finally bit the bullet and joined Facebook this past Friday. I filled out my two most recent jobs, but then got stuck at the 2 years I freelanced before I left for Bulgaria.

I don't know if I really have a point in mentioning that, other than to say that Facebook doesn't seem to accommodate outside-the-box sorts of experiences. But I think it would be fun for your former classmates/colleagues to be able to click to your blog and witness the adorableness.

And like the others said, you are doing a hard job and rocking it. Your guys are so lucky to have you for a mom (& wife)!

Wendy Hitch said...

I can really relate to how you feel. After answering the question of what I do, I always feel the need to go into it, justify it almost, by bringing up the fact that being a sahm is something I want to be and also something about it being outrageously hard work. Why can't I just be confident enough in myself to not care how others perceive me. I guess it is human nature. Or so I tell myself.
I agree that you are as cool as a mom gets. For real.

Jen said...

Honestly when I hear SAHM, it never crosses my mind to think "boring" or to think anything less of the person. Actually, I think it takes an incredible commitment to do such a thing for your children. You are sacrificing experiences that you could have in a career to give them the running start in life that you are equipped to provide to them. Not all moms can do that, or would want to.

In some senses, your job is among the most important. In many jobs, if you screw something up,the worst that can happen is that you would get fired. Your job as a SAHM is much more critical.

I don't think you should let your job title keep you from connecting with friends. If you are questioned about what you are doing now, be sure to respond with pride (you are entitled to be proud of your beautiful boys and your work with them), and I don't think anyone will think anything less of you. If they truly know you, they will know that you are more than just your job, whether it be SAHM or anything else.

amandak said...

Hey lady,
Just figured out how to get back onto blogger (I know, SO hard), and I wanted to drop a comment in here, since I've been thinking about this post quite a bit. First of all, you have tons of cred. I didn't do anything as cool as you did before having my kids, and I don't do half the shit you do with them now that they're here. You ROCK!

That said, I do relate to that feeling of not wanting to feel like you have to explain and justify yourself and your choices. We are all more than what we do, whether we stay home, or go to work, or any combination thereof. Putting ourselves out there in whatever social networking/blogging online hooha happens to be the flavor of the day is just an introduction, and teeny tiny window into a much larger world. I read your blog not to keep track of all the cool things you guys do, and you do a bunch of cool things, but more to appreciate the person you are. Does that sound creepy? stalkerish? I hope not.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the true benefit of the internet age for me is the connections we make, the small moments of recognition, of seeing our own humanity in each other. If we try to turn it into a popularity contest, we lose all that.

I should talk though, I got 'friended' by an ex-boyfriend weeks ago, and still haven't replied in any significant way, cause I just can't think of anything I want to say or share with him, even though he is a great guy, I don't know how to let those kinds of people back into my world. I'm not the person I was back then, and I don't know how to reconcile that person with the person I am now, or if I even want to.