True story… I kid you not.
I was seven or eight months pregnant with my third child, I know I couldn’t see my toes at this point. I am walking out of our neighborhood coffee shop. I run into two stay at home mothers whose kids my kids went to school with. I am rushing to an OB appointment and stop to say hello. The discussions starts with hello, how are you feeling, how are the kids… and so on. But somewhere we hit a wrong turn, I must have blinked, I can’t even recall how we got there. It was like a car accident – all is well and next thing I know, I am upside down stuck in the seat belt and I can’t get out! It starts like this….’So is your husband still working so much?’… ‘Doesn’t he know what he is missing?’… ‘A friend of ours was a workaholic, he didn’t even know where the kids went to school…. his wife died in childbirth…he is floundering’. Yes, I will repeat: I am standing there with a fat belly on my way to an OB appointment and this is what they felt important to share with me. I kid you not.
These stay at home moms were purely toxic…. they should have worn big blinking signs that lit up the words ‘Warning, beware, FOE ahead.’ In that case I would have walked past, gotten into the car and went on my merry way. I know there are plenty of mothers who scorn me for not personally taking my own children to school, not taking them to their lessons, for not volunteering endlessly at school, and the list goes on. But in the 10 years that I have been a mother, I am very happy to say this is rare.
I adore my stay at home mothers. Yes I use the word ‘my’ because I have come to believe in them as the most trusted resource. Without these women, I would be lost, not only clueless regarding what happens during the day, but emotionally. I depend on my gals for so much.
Eyes when I am not there: There is nothing more useful to get an e-mail mid day from a mother volunteering at school to let me know my child has been mouthing off; to have that child know I can still be looped in while I am at work is a powerful tool. And to hear what they are doing well, that they showed kindness to another child can be a sign that just maybe we are doing something right.
Choices for activities: Let’s face it, this is not always the strong suit of a working mother. While my stay at home friends have not only scouted out the best places, they have sat through the lessons and rated the instructors. And because they know my children – who better to take advice from for the right place to swim, gymnastics, etc. I will readily admit, any time I went against a stay at home mother’s recommendation I later regretted it.
The other side of the story: There are days when I just know something is wrong with one of the kids, something is on their mind and it’s so difficult to break into their thoughts. When I finally get there I always know that the view I am getting is still not quite rounded. Of course it’s not, they are still children and the world to them is still flat and they are the center of it. To have someone to tell me the other side of what may be going on at school, with a teacher or a friend, it gives needed context to the story. Only with that context can we guide them through the rough patches.
The back up when I can’t physically get there: No matter how organized I think I am, there are always those times that I forget to tell our au pair about a play date, pick up schedule, or I simply double booked things… or the time we had an au pair who had a little brain freeze on working the car (another true story, sweet Lucy)… and I call a friend and out of the blue they swoop in and save my sorry butt. I can imagine them showing up dressed like a super hero, flying over the neighborhood like Mighty Mouse or, better, Wonder Woman… and wave their wands and my life is back in balance. These saves may seem little to them, but to me they are miracles that patch my sense of safety together.
And the reminder the grass isn’t always greener: Probably similar to all women who have a demanding career and a family that they adore, I periodically question my choice to continue my career. Then my stay at home super heroes will very gently and sometimes not so gently point out my skill set compared to the job requirements of a stay at home mother. They remind me that if I am fulfilled that my happiness and confidence will flow to my children.
What I am writing here is only the portion I can find words for. The feelings and respect I have for my yoga pant clad super heroes is immense. When with my friends, both working outside the home and the stay at home moms – my world has a sense of balance that I could not have otherwise. While I am not there to check on their kids in the lunch room, I give back what I can. I cook and send dinners to their tables, I organize girls’ nights out, I offer help from our au pairs, and we have Friday night last minute dinners at Bar Boudreau (our kitchen) and finish out our very different weeks together as mothers.
Without my super heroes, I could not be me. Cheers to the stay at home mom.