“Mommy, what are you writing?”
“I am writing about what I want to be when I grow up”
“But you are already grown up. You can be anything”
“What should I be?”
“You can work around the house on chores. And then you should be an artist. That would be good.”
I’ve been awake since 4 am, mindlessly scrolling thru Facebook and Instagram posts- back and forth, looking for what? Today, it seems like affirmation that I am not ‘enough’.
Some examples of my feed: “Bossbabe” Memes and Quotes. “Dream it and you can Achieve it”. “MLM” is the same as working for a company. “Don’t let a man take care of you, earn your own money” “Buy your own Chanel Bag, don’t let a man do it for you”. “You can have it all- travel a few months a year, take your son to school, download my e-book”. “I replaced my income with (Fill in the blank MLM of the week).
To top it all off, instead of feeling empowered, these and other posts, made me feel sick to my stomach. I have failed, I have not been able to work a full time job, have a few side hustles, clean a house, raise a child, be a wife, a writer, an artist. Why can’t I do it all? Not enough positive affirmations each morning? Did I forget to write in my goal orientated planner all I want to accomplish?
Some days, I am thrilled to manage a hot breakfast for Vince, feed the dogs, and get two cups of coffee (decaf these days, baby is on the way). Other days, I feel like I can take on the world.
Why the guilt? From what I can remember, my girlfriends are all very successful career women raising wonderful families. We were raised by Mothers with high standards, who told us to have our own money, and go to college for what we wanted before settling down with a family. They were probably raised by Mothers who were housewives, limited to careers that were in education or nursing- and when the 60’s and 70’s rolled around, told our Mothers to break free and be independent.
For the bulk of my life, that’s the route I went. A great education, a fantastic career before and during marriage before starting a family. My ‘own’ money (which led to fights with my ex about his ‘own’ money, and what was a fair way to pay bills). And bought with my “own” money- a house, two cars, piles of electronics and expensive makeup.
And with that career, I lost track of being a Mother to my son. He spent a large chunk of his first 4 years at my parents home while I worked (out of necessity for several years as a single mother). I can remember telling him to be quiet when I needed to run a conference call. I remember taking him to Mcdonald’s drive thru and running a conference call from my car while he sat in his car seat munching chicken nuggets. Who knows what little gems I missed by shushing him and telling him to go to another room when I had ‘an important call’. I am glad he saw me working hard; In other ways, I can’t forgive myself for the teary eyes he would get when I hustled him to a spot in front of the tv while I worked. I spent an hour or so with him in the morning before I dropped him off at my Mom’s; then another hour or so at night for bath and bedtime- what did I miss? I will never know. I was a single Mother- and those who have spent time as one know the struggle to balance putting food on the table and giving attention to the one you are working to feed.
“Mommy! Look at this!”
These days, I can stop what I am doing and truly look at what he is showing me. I am blessed just for the precious ability to stop and put down whatever I am doing to really listen to my child, and give him my full attention.
What will I teach my daughter? I hope to have enough self confidence to be secure in whatever dream she decides to chase- whether it is a high power, high paying career; or a stay at home mother to her children, or some combination of that. I just hope to teach her not to listen to the constant stream of what the world thinks she should be- and to some extent, what I would want her to be. She will have plenty of role models to choose from as she makes her way in this world- but I want her path to be one she chooses- not one that a Facebook Feed tells her to take.