Recently I’ve reconnected with several old friends. I love hearing about their lives — going to a circus workshop, working for the UN, finishing a master degree, hiking in Colorado. I can’t get enough of their Facebook pictures and status updates. But here’s the problem: they want to know about my life too. And I don’t have much to say.
Um, I took Zoey to the library. I waited out a 23 minutes tantrum in the bathroom. We had a mango for snack. We read “Babar” — Did you know Babar married his cousin?! I can’t find Zoey’s pink bathing suit with the butterfly on the front. I forgot to move the towels into the dryer and now they’re all smelly. I cleaned up spilled orange juice. Zoey thinks her vagina is called “this butt” — I’m working on changing that. Progress is slow. I lost my meal planning sheet and now I have no idea what to have for dinner. I forgot to make a dentist appointment. Again. Demetri and I are so tired at night we barely talk to each other. If I have to make one more grilled cheese I might die. I’d really like my child to learn to wipe her own butt.
Of course, if our re-connection wasn’t so recent I could write paragraphs upon entertaining paragraphs about poo, pee, and boobies. But I think I’ll have to ease my friends into that. As it is, I can feel our re-connection sputtering because all the sharing is one way. Sometimes I can’t even bring myself to write an email back because I know it will be boring — full of stuff that doesn’t matter, the mundane details of the life of a mother.
I have this same problem at Demetri’s work parties. I am often asked the dreaded, “So what do you do?” If I say that I’m a SAHM, it pretty much ends the conversation. Oh, there might be a joke about how I have “the hardest job”, but that’s about it. Lately, I have been telling people I’m a writer. It feels slightly more self esteem building than stay-at-home-mom. At least until they ask me how many books I’ve published.
If our society was a little different, if we valued nurturing and children (you know, OUR FUTURE), conversations might go very differently:
So, what to you do?
I’m a mother.
Really??? Oh my god! That’s so amazing!
Oh, well, thanks.
Can I get you more wine? Another brownie? Anything? Anything at all?
I’m fine, thanks. What do you do?
Oh, I’m working on building a fleet of super-human robots. It doesn’t pay much, not like being a mother does. But then again it’s nothing like what you do. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you it? How do you manage to be a good mother?
Well, you just kind of do your best and keep going. It helps to have multi-tasking skills and a strong stomach.
Wow. I mean, WOW. Hey! Hey, Bob! Come over here! I just met a mother!
I can’t blame it all on society. I’m not quite comfortable with the title of SAHM either. I feel like I should be doing something . . . more. Something that’s about me. Not in a self-centered kind of way, but in a I -have-more-to-offer-than-wiping-butts kind of way. You know, something that would look good in the ‘Alumni Notes’ section of my high school magazine. Maybe I just need to tweak my current position a bit:
Joslyne is busy saving lives, being a super hero, creating a responsible and kind human being, and, on alternate Tuesdays, being the Queen Fairy Princess. Joslyne is revered by her minion (most of the time) and adored by all those who read her blog. She is also good at wiping butts – an underrated yet highly technical skill.
What about you? What do you say at parties? If you work beyond your parenting duties, do you include being a parent as part of what you do?