Monday, September 9, 2013

In which I put my foot in my mouth (pt. 2)

I attended the funeral of a friend's mother recently.  At the funeral, there was a blonde woman who looked incredibly familiar to me.  After we were introduced, I realized that we had gone to middle and high school together.  It is a small world (particularly in the suburbs).  She was my friend's cousin - the familial relationship which I had never realized.

We talked about our current lives (as one does).  For the record, in school, we hung out with completely different groups of people.  During the conversation I found out she has three children, and she works at home with them full time.

Perhaps it was because it was her aunt's funeral, perhaps it was just that she and I have always been completely different people with different values.  Most likely, it's that I often put my foot in my mouth.

I asked her what she did to keep busy.  She seemed taken aback and offended.  My husband jumped in (remember, he was a stay at home dad) and said - chasing after kids is enough!

What I meant to say was - what do you do for you?  What do you do outside of being someone's wife and mother?  What makes you fulfilled?

I suppose that this was a political question, even though I didn't mean for it to be.  And I wasn't trying to offend her.  What I was trying to acknowledge was that while being a stay at home mom is a full time job - each person should have their own interests.  Kids grow up.  And being able to be a full time mom is a privilege.

But it's not my place to tell someone else their choices are invalid, or to play the Cassandra.  Just because I would want to have outside interests, doesn't mean everyone has the same needs.  Later, I found out that she had loaned her car last week to my friend to help make arrangements.

And I couldn't help but think - when people work at home full time - this is how they're able to support their friends and family.  They have the resources to run the PTA, to take their kids to hockey practice and ballet - to pick them up from school.  To step up to the plate when others need help.

So perhaps it's political of me as well to acknowledge that these services aren't valued by our society (monetarily).  How many Moms do I know without adequate social security (because they were out of the workforce for years)? How many rejoin the workforce and make drastically less than their peers (working at jobs far below their education)?  These issues are very complicated, and it's not for me to approve or disapprove of another person's choices.

I was just struck about how off base my assumptions were, and that my question (which was meant to be supportive) turned out so poorly.

1 comment:

Freckle Face Girl said...

I understand. I didn't work for about 7 months when we moved to Texas. For part of that I was pregnant. For the other part, I had a newborn and a toddler. A few months into being a new mom, I realized that I needed more stimulation. That was about the time my boss asked me to work from home, so I didn't get a chance figure out what that could be.

You're right, it really is important to find something that makes you feel good about yourself. She probably is involved in lots of things, but doesn't prioritize those so nothing came to mind.

When I was working, I didn't see a lot of what SAMs do. Now, I live in an area where there are a lot of them. Also, my schedule is flexible enough that I'm around them more. I am amazed at how much many of them contribute to the community and schools.

By the way, I am also amazed by how much moms who work outside of the home can juggle.