I've been feeling the need to further explain my comments in this post and, although I've been thinking about it since, I still don't have clear in my mind exactly what I want to say so I've avoided writing anything about it. But I'm a little worried that I may have insulted or alienated folks or somehow taken sides in some mommy wars when I did not mean to in the least. So, if you'll bear with me I'd like to just work it out here, as I write this.
First off, by commenting about being a working mom and not having time for certain pursuits, I do not mean to make any sort of statement about working outside the home versus working from home versus being a stay-at-home-mom. I've spoken of this before--I can't find where or I'd link to it--that I choose to work because I don't do well as a stay-at-home mom. I don't. Many women do and I so admire and applaud and support that. For better for for worse, for whatever reasons, I tend to eventually feel bad about myself when I am not working somewhere for someone else for some pay. I am a good worker. I am a good professional. I am great at helping people, at teaching, at getting things done on a job. And I am a good mom. I am a good wife. I am just not good at being exclusively a wife and mom.
I do, however, hold my family among my greatest priorities. I deeply value my family life. And I wish to live a life that reflects my values. That was, after all, one of our major motivations for moving away from the city and back to the mountains. It remains our motivation for trying to live a simpler life--so that we can have a richer family life centered around our higher principles.
I happen to believe that we can have a simpler, richer, family- and value-centered life within the framework of regular jobs and public schooling and beyond-the-parent child care. We do make sacrifices (for example, I work part-time and we both make less money than before) and we do sometimes have to be creative in how we work it all (especially with child care) and we do rely heavily on help from our families (which is actually one of the desired outcomes--being able to be closer to and interdependent with our extended families). But I believe it is possible, and worth it, to do.
The truth is that whenever we make choices for our lives, there are always choices that we don't make, as well. I wrote about that last summer, here, that for all the things I choose to do, there are more that I choose not to do.
All of which is great to say and something I know on an intellectual level and something I would counsel others to realize.
And yet. Yet...
I am still subject to great stabbing feelings of incredible guilt for the things I do not do...and some that I do. And those deep painful feelings of inadequacy are sometimes increased as I read more and more and more blogs. Especially the blogs of women who are--or seem to be--the kind of person I want to be. The kind of person I wish I could be.
But the thing is, the thing is: these women who write these blogs, these women to whom I compare myself, these women to whom I feel less than--they are not who I imagine them to be. They are not who I want to be. Not really.
I have struggled my entire self-aware life with accepting myself, with loving myself. With acknowledging that I am lazy and self-centered and selfish and sometimes mean and boring and a whole lot of other not-so-attractive qualities while I am also generous and loving and intelligent and good at heart and a whole mess of attractive qualities. At the same time that I tell my students about the wonderful uniqueness and individuality and inherent value of each person, I do not give myself the same encouragement. The truth is that I am not like anyone else, nor am I meant to be. Nor do I truly wish to be.
Who I am is enough.
Okay, Wow, I so didn't realize I was going to go there with this post. I just started writing and have wound up here spilling my heart and my tears to you. Thank you for taking the time for pay attention to it.
One of my intentions with this post was to give you links to a few blog posts and bloggers who have made me feel a little better over the last couple of weeks. Mostly because they are so real. I do also want to acknowledge that I myself am guilty sometimes of not writing about the uglier, messier parts of my admittedly great life. I do love my life. (It's my self I have a problem with, but then I always have). Although I have always tried to be honest in this space, I do also try to put a positive spin on most of it and I do leave out much, presenting to you only a fraction of my experience.
Anyway, I found much comfort lately in the following very real blogs and blog posts:Sweet Mess: the flip side
Momalom (in general), specifically these posts:
And, of course, I love Momalom's !!! posts, but especially love this one, as she used the word "craptastic" in the title: !!! can be a bitch when you are having a craptastic week , but that's exactly why you have to keep searching for it, intentionally
Also, I found Momalom through Gretchen Rubin's site (who I found after reading her very real and yet very positive book, The Happiness Project). Gretchen is, of course, a well-adjusted, accomplished person, and she, too, keeps her writing realistic and honest when speaking of her own experience. The James Hillman passage quoted by Tony Schwartz in this interview was especially timely for me.
Another of my favorite bloggers, and someone who "keeps it real" while striving to live a simpler, richer life is Mary Beth at Salt and Chocolate. She is trying her own Happiness Project and has been honest about her accomplishments and setbacks in doing so. See the latest update on her project here: May Happiness Project Update
If you made it to the end of this ramble, I thank you. Heck, if you skimmed this far, I thank you.