I can’t recall who started it. It was trending not just in my twitter feed and on facebook. It was in my house, too. Em didn’t want to go back to school after her long break. MQD was not particularly interested in going back to work. It seemed like no one wanted to “go back.”
I have adopted a silence when people start hemming and hawing on Sunday in the late afternoon about “going back to work.” When you stay home you don’t have much to add to that conversation. Either you crack a joke at your own expense quickly or you start pointing out that you don’t get days off at all.
I usually just fall quiet. I am not trying to get pelted with bon bons from the stay at home mom crowd for saying this out loud. But staying home with my kids is so far the best job I have ever had. I make my own hours. I love the people that I work for. And I wear whatever I want. The same things that make it awful are the things that make it wonderful. I spend all my time with my co-workers. All of it.
This particular Monday I had a tougher time falling back in to the swing of things. My house is clean. My refrigerator is full of left overs. My laundry is done. A long weekend with family and I had plenty of extra hands on deck. Christmas is more than a month away. I am not ready to start that. So, what exactly am I to do?
Lucy and I had a lazy morning. We stayed in our pajamas. We did some yoga. We chatted with a friend when she stopped by with our eggs. Late morning became afternoon and before I knew it Emily’s bus was going to be home and we weren’t even dressed. For all intents and purposes I did not “go to work” today. Sure, I kept the kiddo alive and happy all day. And on a good day that is enough for me. She is my “primary job.” But on the days when I sit back and watch her and I disengage and I wonder if “this” is “enough” – it makes my heart hurt.
Sitting on the floor in our bedroom by the window I could feel the lonely settling down in to my bones. I was trying to be light hearted when I called him. “Every one is back to work and school and I am just here. It’s so quiet. It’s like I don’t know what to do.”
He was joking. “You should clean something.”
I wanted to hang up. I wanted to not cry. I wanted to not make mountains out of molehills and rail against the Universe that cleaning things is a waste of time when it will all be a mess again tomorrow. He was kidding.
But damn that man of mine. Even his jokes can see through me. Surely he could hear the blue. I don’t wear it well.
Not even ten minutes had passed before I ripped the covers off of the couch and put them in the washing machine. He might have been joking, but I feel pretty fantastic. Sometimes I do need to feel like I “did” something. And by sometimes I mean all of the time. The washing machine will be done in four minutes. In a little over an hour I will pull clean cushion covers out of my dryer and wrestle them back on to the couch. And I will feel like I conquered the world. Or at the very least I will feel like I beat back the blue for yet another day.
But it is not just because I cleaned something. I can’t have you or MQD thinking my life is really that simple.
I also put on lipstick. And in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due I must thank my mother (presumably) for losing a lipstick in my couch. Because apparently it takes more than just a shower and a completed chore to make my heart sing. It takes lipstick, y’all.
I learned my life lessons from 80’s television. If you tapped a cane on the floor right now I would stand up straight. I would grab the back of a chair and lift my chin. In my mind I would hear Debbie Allen saying “You want fame? … Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying. With sweat.”
Some time in the early 1990s I decided that sweatshirts with the neck cut out were maybe not the very best look for me. And I abandoned my dreams for Fame. I hung up my legwarmers and decided Fame wasn’t for me.
A couple of days ago I contributed a picture to The Feminist Breeder’s Normalize Breastfeeding Campaign on Facebook. I chose to send a picture of myself sitting down after an excellent day. Lucy was nursing and I was having a glass of wine. It was the perfect image to reject the idea that nursing mothers have to spend their lives cooped up in a nursery, missing out. Gina’s “offensive” picture featured a piece of bacon and a nursing baby. I thought it was amusing to feature a glass of wine and a nursing baby because Facebook is clearly pro-pictures of people with a drink in their hand.
I have been blogging in my little corner of the Internet for almost three years. It has been a great way for me to hash out my feelings as my life progressed from single parent to a married mother of two. It served as a record of my pregnancy and Emily growing from a teeny little thing to the 7 year old going on 17 that she is today. I have been honest. I have talked openly about my insecurities and my struggles with being a woman and received a lot of “Good for you!” and “Thanks for sharing” and pats on the back.
And then yesterday the picture posted of me having a glass of wine while nursing my baby and within an hour I had that icky “what have I done?” feeling. Comments racked up and the great majority were negative it seemed. These weren’t people that read here and support me. These were strangers sharing misinformation (that breastfeeding and a glass of wine don’t mix) and saying that I was a lousy mother. (My favorite being the woman that pointed out that I was ignoring my baby when I looked at the camera!)
Every day I aim to choose happiness. I choose to see the good and the joy in the smallest moments. It is part of who I am. Yesterday was a test. I kept waiting to feel my stomach flip flop and a tear escape my eyes as I read another comment from a stranger about how I was classless. But it didn’t happen. Because I didn’t need to look very hard to see that there were really only a handful of people shaming me. And they were doing so from a place of lack of knowledge. They really believed that you can’t nurse a baby and have a glass of wine. Shame on them for judging me? Maybe. But don’t we all just do the best we can with the information we’ve got? And for every criticism there were more than a dozen women that said “this picture is great!” or that I looked so relaxed and happy. Or that I had great eyeglasses. (Special thanks to them because amidst a persecution of your character it is important to remind yourself that you are fashionable!)
This morning I am taking the opportunity not to speak to the judgement and the misinformation (largely because the inimitable Amy West has already done so.) Instead I choose to thank my friends and the many strangers that responded on the Facebook thread or on Twitter. So many of you spoke up to say “Hey, you are doing a great job, keep on keeping on.” And really? If I am honest – thank you to the folks that said you can’t have an alcoholic beverage and nurse a baby because it was an excellent platform for dispelling that widely believed myth.
My last thank you goes out to the women and men that spewed the kind of garbage that can only be done from behind the protection of your computer screen. You probably didn’t mean to. But you made this girl with her tiny little blog feel famous! Because you aren’t Internet Famous unless somebody hates you. I am going to have to wear a clean velour sweatsuit every time I leave the house if y’all keep this up. I might even need to bust out that sweatshirt with the neck cut out and some legwarmers. Rumor has it – Fame costs, but I can take it.
Even as a child I knew I had to suffer for my art!
I am making peace with the fact that Betty Freidan would be disappointed in me. I read an insightful article recently about the growing trend for women to have a picture of their child as their Facebook profile. What does this mean? Does it signify a “voluntary loss of self” as the article suggests.
I am a capital letter F Feminist. I hear this battle cry loud and clear. We are more than our children. We are. We are thinkers and dreamers and writers and people. I understand all of that.
But I don’t have a furry vest and some Minnetonka moccasins. If I did my Facebook profile picture would be a picture of me. And it would look just like this. Well, maybe all but the model thin legs.