The other day I was driving with my girls, rocking out to "I'm a Little Tea Pot" and was blindsided by a thought.
For the last few years I've been known to refer to being a mother as "my job". In so many ways this role I play seems to look the part. I wear many different hats, cater to all sorts of needs, plan ahead and predict mayhem before all hell breaks loose. As a mom, I work tirelessly to give my children a life of joy and safety, learning and adventure.
But that day in the car, as I sang along far from on key, I realized what I do everyday is not a job and believing it is has cheapened the part I play in the lives of my daughters. What I've come to find is labeling motherhood as a job fills an insecurity I've been unwilling to face. If I can dress this insecurity up in a suit and tie at least what I do every day will feel a little more legit, a little less like a waste of time and a college degree. If I give myself a title, a legit answer to "what do you do?", for a few minutes I can play a part in the "real" world, thinking they won't recognize me amidst their hustle of emails and phone calls and meetings and deals.
Instead on the days I stay in pajamas until evening or "dress up" in athletic wear, I find a touch of shame attached. If this is my job, I should dress for success, right? On the days I sit beside the water watching my girls splash away an afternoon, these lovely moments come with a touch of guilt. If this is my job, then I need to be achieving something, right? When my husband asks each evening "what did you do today" and all I have in response is color, or go to the library, or aimlessly walk the streets of downtown, I find myself scrambling for more task-like accomplishments to tag on because, of course I'm working and need to have done something "important". You know, like laundry. When leftovers are what's for dinner because I'm exhausted from the beach and Farmer's Market and picking berries, a little of the contentment of summer is replaced with disappointment. I run a restaurant, remember? If motherhood is my job I need to succeed, accomplish, work, push, aim, and have each and every minute accounted for.
But it's not a job and I'm not getting paid and believing I am is stealing the joy of this amazing blip in time. Because these years with my young children are that, a beautiful blink, and I'm tired of working and guilting and shaming them away.
Being a mom provides a space to be myself without holding back, in fact it requires it. It allows me to go outside and swing for hours. It gives me quiet space in the middle of the day to recharge and breath deeply before meals. I get to go on adventures and watch my babies grow into beautiful, caring, hilarious little girls. I am humbled by the width of my emotions and get the opportunity to practice saying sorry. I get to show my kids a world full of wonder and magic and miracles and at the same time show them how to be kind and compassionate. I get to kiss them goodnight at sunset and hug them [morning breath and all] as the sun rises. I get to watch them explore and fall down and get up and see the look of pride and courage on their faces. Being a mom refines me and remakes me and shows me all of the areas within myself still governed by my very stubborn ego. It challenges me to be a closer reflection of the true me and pushes me to examine the pain and hurt in my own life in an effort to not parent out of those dark places. Being a mom gives to me as much, if not more, than I give to it.
So fellow moms, let's stop the charade that being a mom is mimicking heading out in the morning for a day of work. For those of you who work a day job and then come home to a family, thinking mom-ing is a job can only lead to resentment and frustration. If you stay home, believing you'll work a 24/7 job 365 days a year for the rest of your life can only lead to resentment and frustration.
Instead, let's try sitting in this beautiful moment filled with uncertainty, tension, challenge, difficulty, joy, laughter and tears. Let's fully embrace the role we play, not being ashamed if we don't have the bank account to show for it. Let's stop the insanity of pushing ourselves to be perfect thinking somehow we'll be fired if we take a wrong turn or receive a promotion is we have all our ducks in a row. Let's remove the shame and guilt and "what-ifs" and replace them with presence and gratitude and creativity. Let's get out of bed with the thought that a miracle has occurred - it's a new day and we get to do it again. Let's rise in the confidence that we are enough without labels and titles and paychecks and accolades. And let's embrace being a mom.