Yesterday, I took my three kids over to one of my BFF’s house to babysit her three kids.
This was interesting. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, considering my own kids put me over the edge most days. But I accepted the challenge figuring it would get us out of their routine plus help out my friend, besides having the opportunity to spend some special time with children I adore. But it was interesting, nonetheless.
First of all, this gig was not local. We had to wake our lazy butts up at 5:45 to prepare to be out the door before 6:30. We did it. With three sleepy heads, a bag of toothbrushes and coffee in hand, I went.
I won’t bore anyone with the details of almost eight hours of what we did to entertain ourselves and each other. In fact, the day went smooth as can be. The kids behaved, they had fun, I stayed organized and I was able to provide quality care to an infant and two toddlers thanks to the help of my big girl who assisted me all day. But the thing that stuck with me most was how wonderful it was to have my children witness me in a role of responsibility BEYOND taking care of them. Granted, it was still “childcare,” but they knew we were there to do a job and they knew that on this particular day, their needs might not always get priority. And they also got a kick out of watching me change diapers and coo at a baby!
My friend came home from work to nurse her baby and we had a nice chat. She is a medical practitioner running her own practice, and as of now she is juggling a full schedule as she looks for a new associate to lighten her burden of full-time work. Her previous associate has moved on, leaving her suddenly to deal with juggling full-time work with an infant and two toddlers at home. We talked about that. We discussed how as mothers, there is never down-time, no matter whether working part-time, full-time or having no job at all. Every moment is filled with a need to be met. There is no easy out of the demands of motherhood.
As I watched her breeze back out the door with her clean clothes, make-up and just her own self while I was left there with six kids to tend to, I thought to myself how one day I too will be a working mom. I am working on a degree that will one day finally lead to a job. And I have a feeling she was thinking on her drive back to work how soon enough, she will get to trade in her uniform a few days a week for a swimsuit and flip-flops.
But in reality, this economy as it is now doesn’t allow a woman to make the choice to surrender to homemaking the way it once was. A home run by a single income can experience devistation at the drop of a hat, and when this happens, all we have built on the homefront can be thrown into chaos leaving small children who find security in the routines we built for them feeling insecure about the changes happening around them. You can’t build coping skills when there are no situations to cope through.
And we are educated now. We are needed in all areas of the world, not just on the homefront. That is a good thing in many ways. But it still leaves Mama Bear often pulled in too many directions. I haven’t found an answer to this complex issue for myself. When I begin to think about it on a macro social level, I can only hope that when we get though this economic crisis, we as a society will have readjusted our priorities and begin finding ways to operate more effectively as a whole, less focused on individual gain at the expense of others. I hope as women we can find a way to balance personal achievement and growth with the ability to stay focused during the short time our children are small so we can nurture their little bodies and minds with complete devotion and unwavering attention. We can’t count on t.v, video games and babysitters to help our kids find their potential, to teach them values, and to prepare them to be contributing citizens to the world when it is bestowed to them.
Because this is really the point. That if we just live for ourselves and not our kids, we are leaving this world in the hands of a society of people who only know how to look out for number one. I think we are seeing the results of this right now as we watch our economy crumble and our families fall apart.
All I know is, I can’t imagine figuring this out without the companionship and support of my friends who are trying to figure all this out alongside me. We are smart woman, we are amazing mothers and we are hopeful about the future we are creating for ourselves, our families and our children. As one friend of mine is seeing patients at the office, another is at the park helping her boys across the monkey bars, and yet another is discovering the working world isn’t as scary as she thought it might be as her husband and she rally together to rebuild structure to the life that dissapeared with his job last year. And I am enrolled at the university where I work toward a degree that will one day be handed to be in a bittersweet moment of accomplishement and sadness for the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I happen to be quite contented in the chapter I’m living now.
I can’t know what’s best for others, but I know for me, as I mature and see so many things and people change around me, I grow increasingly less judging of other woman. I watch those who work yearn to be home to hold the bucket when their kids gets the flu, others struggle with mind rot from the monotony of cleaning up after other people all day while the education they invested in and skills they developed fall to the wayside, and those who try to do both, being minimally effective at either work or home for the lack of time and energy to wear too many hats in one life. I realize how very hard it is for us all to find a comfortable spot – in the working world or home with our kids.
The only constant in life is change, and that’s a tough pill to swallow when you are responsible for the lives of helpless human beings who are dependent on you to create a world of consistancy for them.