Monday, January 27, 2014

I think I just got put in my place

I just read a fascinating article by a woman about how she feels sorry for young women with husbands and children.
And as I studied my life (a wife at age twenty and a mother at age 23) I realized that I just can't argue with her. I think she has me pegged.
She points out that getting "knocked up" or "hitched" to a man are no reasons to celebrate. After all, those things can be done by anyone, and have been for time immemorial. They are average.
We should have showers for women accomplishing real goals like job promotions and backpacking across Asia.
I think she has me there. I've never backpacked across Asia. I haven't backpacked much of anywhere, really. Probably because I got hitched to a man and knocked up. I've taken some really great hikes through the ozark mountains and Florida everglades, but I don't think those count because the entire time I had little girls following me and picking up feathers and pinecones and distracting me by pointing out the miracles of nature and the wonders of the world.
And I couldn't fully enjoy the sunsets over the gulf of Mexico because there was a man sitting in the sand next to me telling me how much he loves me. So that was pretty much a wash.
Who wants to spend their life with a person who lives and dies for them, loves and adores them? I think that might be co-dependence or something. Maybe there's a medication for that.
But if I had put on a backpack and walked across Asia that would have been spectacular. My friends could have thrown me a shower. I think I might leave my average life and try that.
Except...
Except...
If I am going to be really honest Asian people have been carrying stuff and walking around Asia for a long time. There might be some people who mistake my incredible journey for something average. So maybe backpacking across Asia isn't actually an amazing feat, after all.

But if I went to another country and fed hungry children and gave naked children clothing and nursed the sick then I would definitely be contributing and accomplishing.
Except...
Except...

Now that I think about it, I do that every day. I feed hungry children and clothe naked ones and nurse them and teach them, so maybe I can check that off my list. Unless it only counts if you go around the world and do it to another mother's children. I'll have to look that up. I'm not sure my human beings count.

But job promotions... that's something I've been missing out on. I scrub toilets and make beds and catch vomit in bowls but I've never been promoted. No one gives me a raise or recognition. And the last time my daughter laid her freakishly soft cheek against mine and kissed me and told me that she loved me more than pink markers I think I was subconsciously wishing that I was sitting in a cubicle doing data entry really well so someone could come and move me to a bigger cubicle with a longer spreadsheet.
Or the time my husband told me that our daughter had my eyes and sounded like he thought that was the best thing that could ever happen to a person.

I think I rolled those eyes because I was wishing that I was midlevel manager working my way up the ladder and deciding who to fire during cutbacks. Because we all know that the hand that completes the spreadsheet is the hand that rules the world. I think I heard that once.
She also says that being a mother and homemaker will never be equal to being . . . say, an engineer. 
photo available through Seattle Municipal archives

I usually get embarrassed being around engineers, which is a problem because there are so many of them! I mean they're almost average nowadays. I listen to their stories about ductwork and humidity levels and how to lay out a parking lot just so and I feel foolish having nothing to show for my days' work other than my children. I mean they are only the most complex organisms known to man. They have beating hearts and lightning fast neural systems and self-healing outer layers, along with cognitive and emotional abilities. They will grow up to continue life on the planet, heal broken hearts, mend bloody knees, appreciate art and nature and change the world, but that doesn't change the fact that I don't know the thermal properties of cement versus concrete.
To be totally honest, I'm not even sure if cement and concrete are different things.
It's really embarrassing.
Which is probably why I hide away in my home and paint and scour and decorate and make it look beautiful and smell beautiful and feel beautiful so people can feel loved the second they step inside. Because I'm not traveling the world or putting in overtime at work I have to fill up my day with meeting emotional and intellectual needs of those around me.

Sorry, but there's really nothing better to do.
And backpacking would require that I go buy a backpack and you know... I'm just a lazy housewife.

38 comments:

  1. so well said my wordsmith friend! Love your post! Love your writing! Love the woman who stays at home and loves her family. Oh, and that woman who wrote the article can go ahead and kill herself trying to stay above average. I'm happy with average.

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  2. I love you! I'll take being an 'average' mom/housewife any day over living in a cubicle or backpacking across some foreign (to me) country any day. Thanks for your words. They made me laugh, smile, and glad for the job I have :)

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  3. Go Tapper! Reading this made my day!

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  4. Oh my gosh, this is the best thing I've read in a long time! I get so tired of the so-called feminists telling us stay-at-home moms that we're missing out on life and are somehow less of a person because of it. I've lived the other life as a systems analyst/programmer in the corporate world and can tell you first hand it is nothing compared to being at home with my family. Thanks for putting these thoughts and feelings so perfectly into words, Regina!

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  5. *slow clap* I think this deserves to be a Ted talk. Regina, this is one of the best blog posts I've ever seen. EVER. Thank you.

    (I realized I wasn't following your blog! Ah! I thought I was, but I made sure I am now!)

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  6. Fantastic post, and even better as my daughter overheard my laughing as I read it to my hubby, and she and I enjoyed one of the chats that I hope will help her value being a mom more than any other 'average' thing she can do. Thanks for that, and bravo!

    --Suzanne
    www.suzannewarr.com

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  7. Oh my gosh. I love you. That article really made me feel sorry for such a sad human being. Surely she wasn't serious. I didn't know you knew Tristi Pinkston.

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  8. Maybe you can hope for grandmotherhood. I think that counts as a promotion. Somewhere. Maybe.

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  9. Beautifully said. And yes, grandmotherhood feels like a promotion :-)

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  10. Amen! Beautifully said. Found this post through a friend who posted it to FB. THANK YOU for your words....as I sit here folding a mountain of laundry for the 3rd time this week, washing pb&j faces and sticky banana fingers, and gearing up for the after-school-mad-dash of homework, piano lesson, reading, chores, and the ever-looming dinner making. LOL! LOVED this post. :)

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  11. Thank you for this awesome post! It's nice to be reminded of the importance of being a mother when you are constantly surrounded by people who actually think that "just being a mom" is lazy. Great post!

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  12. I love a girl that can speak her mind! Well said!!! Us wives and mothers need to stand together and proclaim to the world that NOTHING is better than partaking of motherhood and enjoying every second of it!!! So beautiful, thank you for daring to stand up for what you believe, and for motivating the rest of us to do so as well! I love my 5 beautiful kiddos and crazy husband and would not change my life for anything!!

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  13. And you know what, there will be time for other challenges once they break your heart by growing up and leaving home. Until, that is, they make you a grandmother, and then your joy will be magnified even more! And how did you get so lucky to be loved more than pink markers!!?? You are truly blessed!!

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  14. Best response to that Amy Glass blog post yet!

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  15. I heart you, Regina. You have such a way with words that are just what I wish I could say. Thank you!

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  16. Wonderful response to Amy Glass who is saddly missing out on so much of what life has to offer her and she doesn't even know it!

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  17. Just what I needed to hear! Thanks friend :)

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  18. I read that article too... and the rest of the day I wanted to let Amy know that I did travel all over the world, I had a fancy shmancy gig in NY... and then I let it go to become a mom. And you know what? I have grown and learned and become a better person exponentially since that decision.

    I just couldn't figure out the right words to say it with, and I'm glad you did.

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  19. I wish this post would get as much press time as Amy Glass's naive and uninformed drivel. I love this so much I can hardly stand it!

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  20. Well, this was GREAT! Being a mom is the very best thing ever! Having and giving love in my life is IT. Awesome words.

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  21. May I say that there is a promotion from being a mother, it does encompass more work, strain, heartache, and profound joy - being a Grandmother!

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  22. Love this! I didn't read the first article because, well, I don't have time for negative nonsense. Your reply however was worth every second.

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  23. I enjoyed your blog post. Having a law degree myself, I determined that there are a LOT of lawyers in this world. Practicing law would perhaps be intellectually challenging and socially fulfilling but it would not be truly deeply meaningful to me. So instead of practicing law in my early years, I have chosen to really make a difference and nurture my children full-time. Shaping human life is the most significant contribution I can make to the human race. It is an experience I would not want to live without. I couldn't chose it without sacrificing some backpacking trips and ladder-climbing in my 20s and 30s ... but as I weighed my life-options I know the one that means the most to me and that's the one I chose.

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  24. I really appreciate your take on this article, particularly, the first half of your post really resonated with me. That Amy Glass piece was heinous and I'm glad you stood up to it. But when you started mocking those of us who do work outside the home I started to lose you. I do work in a cubicle and a lot of my job is data entry. I'm not an engineer, I work on helping families and students prepare for, financially plan for, and succeed in college. (Specifically, I compile the data to tell us how we're doing on our various programs.) I work for the state, not a sketchy for-profit school and what we do is worthwhile and it does help families and individuals realize their potential and become better humans. Your description of the workforce isn't very kind, and it certainly isn't fair (just like Glass was neither kind or fair). Motherhood is important, Mom's who are able and choose to stay home are amazing women and I applaud you. But that doesnt mean that those of us who are in the work force who also contribute to society directly and indirectly in ways that many average families desperately need are somehow less-than either. I realize your whole post is mocking and satirifcal, but that doesn't mean it's okay to degrade us just because some unfeeling person wrote a nasty blog post about what you do all day.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Harriet, I am new to this blog, and consequently don't have any background information on the author of this post. So I'm just speculating, but my guess is that she probably respects mothers who work outside the home, and was not intending to mock them. I think she was specifically mocking Amy Glass's attitude, and demonstrating how every job has its share of the mundane, in response to Glass' implication that motherhood has a monopoly on the mundane (diaper changes, scrubbing toilets, etc). I myself have a part-time job outside the home, and worked fulltime when my son was a baby. I greatly admire moms who are able to juggle motherhood with a fulltime job. Thank you for all that you do. I hope my son will attend a state college someday, and I hope there will be good people like you working to help him succeed.

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    2. Hi Harriet, Tapper here. And Claire already put it perfectly (welcome to the blog!) This piece is satire. I make fun of myself far more than anyone else. I never said I don't work outside the home. I didn't say that I haven't had a cubicle. I just used satire to point out that there's no reason to glamorize paid work and degrade home work. I believe in hard work in all its forms. I will throw parties for my friends who get promotions and who create humans, because most of my friends do some of both. I'm just equal opportunity that way.

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    3. Ok, so you use satire to make a point, do you believe that any of Amy Glass's piece was at all satirical?

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    4. Of course. That's why I replied in kind with humor instead of getting worked up and offended. Ridiculous should be answered with ridiculous.

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  25. I love, love, love this. :) Thank you for your candid response. You did a very poetic job of summing up what it is like to be a mother. I admire my friends who are both mothers and have a career, and I appreciate that they admire the fact that I choose to be home full time. Let's all support each other and stop tearing people down who choose differently than we do. Good for you for standing up for all of us who are home! I think all mothers have felt criticized at one point or another for bottlefeeding, or homeschooling, or not bottlefeeding, or sending her kids to public school. or having a huge family, or having only one child, etc. The list goes on and on. This post was the perfect rebuttle!

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  26. I have been thinking about that article for weeks. Thank you for writing this, one mom to another.

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  27. As always Regina, you are a master at using words to put things into perspective. One of the many things I admire about you. Thanks for writing this article. You're awesome!

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  28. Lovely AND hilarious - I found myself giggling as I read it, trying to keep my bleary eyes open after four days of a terrifyingly teething 10-month-old making me think that sometimes, backpacking through Asia would probably be easier than mommyhood. But NEVER as wonderful.

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