On The Guilt That I Don't Feel
Hey Mamas. Are you tired of hearing how much mom guilt there is out there, particularly attached to "choice" between staying at home and working? It's the biggest pile of bullshit ever. I mean, really? Who gets to choose to stay at home? I guess people with lots of money or those who are minimalists and live in tiny homes mortgage-free of unmarked roads in fallow fields. Or something. But seriously: Is it even a choice? And secondly: Why is there so much guilt about it?
As for the second question, I am being purposefully obtuse. I get that some Mamas want to stay at home and take care of their children rather than send them to daycare like normal people. I'm just kidding of course, normal people would probably send them to boarding school. The point is, staying at home is the very LAST THING ON EARTH I WANT TO DO. Next you'll suggest homeschooling and I'll go into convulsions and develop a tick where all I can say is "Mommy work, Mommy work." Maybe they'll finally commit me. I can't stay at home - financially or otherwise - nor would I want to. Let me state for the record that I do not judge those Mamas who do want to stay home. I simply don't understand them and will never be able to relate to them on that level. Yes, this does make me have my own form of Mom Guilt - of course. It makes me feel like I should want to stay home - but that guilt is different from feeling guilt because I work. Cause I don't. Full stop.
Nothing could make me feel guilt about working (but just for good measure, ask me again in twelve years when Aya has fully tattooed arms, a septum piercing and a rottweiler - none of these things are bad in themselves but other people will blame that fact that worked on how she "turned out" which will be brilliantly as a tattooed, dog owning, pierced face chick - but nobody gets that). Working saved me from my darkest hours, it made me feel like me again, it gives me a routine and a purpose and a life outside my home. I am indebted to work. For reals.
I think it's laughable to say that I wouldn't have to say this as a father because I simply wouldn't and it's silly to have to say this because of "how far we've come." Sure as shit we've come far but when I hear stories about marines who are questioned about their choice of career because they find themselves single mothers and are threatened with ultimatums between their child and work, I go a little bit more nuts. Women who want to work and make no apologies - or feign no guilt about it - are still seen as anomalies. And that tells us something about just how far we've come.
I think this kind of mentality - or rhetoric if I can be so bold - is part of a larger cultural narrative of sacrifice - the sacrificial mother. Just divest yourself of all that you once were and then motherhood will be easy so the story goes, but in reality, it just makes women miserable. And depressed. And angry. Why do their male partners get to keep being who they are? Why do they get to sit while Mummy chases the kids? Why do they get to bask in the privilege of being invisible as a parent and clapped on the back for - oh, I don't know - deigning to stay with a woman once she has provided him with offspring? It's all so fucked up. And yet it is all around us.
I'm lucky. I have a supportive partner who gets that I want to work. Or maybe I'm just smart because I choose him and duped him into choosing me (ha - he thinks he has free will - mwahahahahaha). But we are not all so lucky. We live in a culture that sees parenting as women's work and women's success or failure.
It's time to set our own standards for success and stop contributing to a cultural narrative that sees us only as "mothers" or "workers."
We are so much more than that.