Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Changing the world

Fifteen years ago I thought I would change the world. I went to college, partied my way to a Bachelor degree and came out swinging... I had a great job in San Francisco and thought I was on my way to making a mark. After three years as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), I've had to change my perspective.

After having Dylan, I went back to work for four months, but it was really hard for me. Although I worked from home, the challenge of having a child and working in the same place was not easy to master. I felt like I was doing both jobs poorly. Every conference call was interrupted by a hungry baby and every feeding was interrupted by a business call. I felt guilt all the way around. Every time I was working I was thinking of the time I was missing with Dylan and every time I took time to play with her, I thought of the work piling up on my desk or the zillion emails I had to return. I was never fully present in either endeavor.

I never wanted to be a SAHM, but one of the multitudes of reasons we moved to BFE (other wise known as Shingle Springs) was so I could have a choice if I wanted to. (If we had stayed in the Bay Area, I’d probably still be working full time.)

So deciding to stay home was somewhat of a blow to my ego. What had I gone to college for? Why did I bother working my way up the food chain while employed? For the first couple of months I found myself explaining to people I had just met that although I was JUST a SAHM, I had been someone important with a “Real” job before having a child. I met other women who did the same thing. Conversations went like this…

“Hi, I’m Dylan’s mom. But I used to be an events coordinator. I worked with some really great people like Calvin Klein and Donna Karan. Now I change diapers and cook really shitty dinners… no pun intended.”

For a short time I thought I wouldn’t actually survive the transition, my bruised ego couldn’t handle the story lines I made-up in my own head: Would my parents feel ashamed that they had forked out thousands of dollars for college and I am now JUST a SAHM? Would my husband really expect me to clean my own house? (Something my own mother has never done…) Was I really going to cook every meal?

The truth is, now I realize what my life as a SAHM is all about. It’s simple… maybe my children will change the world, or maybe their children will, not necessarily by doing great things but by being kind people. Simply put, my “job” is to raise people who will contribute to society in a positive way. It doesn’t matter to me how they do it, just as long as they are happy. My family is much happier with me being responsible for the two children we chose to have. Nobody else is raising my kids and I know our values and morals will be instilled in my children simply because they are with me everyday. Sure Dylan is known to say Shit every time she drops something, but that’s OK with me because I know exactly who she learned it from.

And with this epiphany comes the great unburdening of guilt. My made-up story lines never came true. My parents don’t feel disappointed in me for not using my degree everyday; without it, I never would have met Mike and had two wonderful girls. I would not have met so many close friends and I certainly would not have known how to run my husband’s business. I have a housekeeper because God knows I hate trying to clean my house. And Mike rarely complains that we eat the same four things every week or that at least one of those meals typically has something burned…

I haven’t shamed or disappointed anybody with my decision to stay home; instead my “job” is adding two great people to the world!


At 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two great children added to the world by two great children, both you and Mike have given so much to all of us. Thanks for being such a great daughter and for adding Mike into our world cause without him we wouldn't be the proud grand parents of two very bright and beautiful grand daughters. Dad and Mom

At 11:59 PM, Anonymous CarrieB said...

Awwww....your dad & mom's post made my teary....
Truer words have not been spoken. Yes Kathy, you ARE making a difference by raising great kids who will make our world a better place simply by being in it.

When Todd and I discuss having more kids (don't worry, we won't) or we hear of people who don't want to have kids because of the terrible thing happening in the world today, he will often say, "the world NEEDS people like our kids".

Keep up the great work. Forget the Peace Corps logo, MOTHERHOOD is the toughest job you'll ever love!

BTW: totally jealous here that you have a housekeeper!

At 6:25 AM, Blogger Korie said...

I loved this post!! I have been struggling with this whole SAHM idea & your post put words to my feelings.
So, if I'm not using my law degree, do I really have to pay Sallie Mae back their lousy $100,000???

At 11:45 AM, Blogger KathyB said...

The good news, Korie, is you'll have the communication skills needed to successfully make your case when Baby G begs for a toy in whatever store your in!


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