I've never fit into a box. I've wanted to and tried to but could never quite fit all of me into one thing. I'm not sure many people can actually fit into one box. On the outside it may seem they do, but internally I bet they are busting at the seems. When I was in elementary school, I thought it was because I had brown curly hair (looking at that pic above, maybe it was because one eye is squinty). Or that my parents weren't PTA parents (although my Dad or Mom volunteered for nearly every/any field trip we went on. Plus I clearly remember my Dad coming to volunteer to teach my class how to read). Any time I didn't feel like I fit in, or that it was my turn to be shunned (when you go to tiny school- the group of friends you have or can have are limited) I soul searched for the reason why - as deep as I got was "it must be that I have brown curly hair". Maybe once it crossed my mind- maybe it was because we were Jewish (grew up in a mountain town with NO other Jewish families around). But when my parents encouraged us to go to Hebrew school, I definitely didn't fit into that box either- I double dipped my apple into honey and was shunned from that time forward. You do NOT double dip your apples- VERY un-Kosher.
Although I was "popular" in elementary school, I was a good person and tried to be nice to the people that weren't in our clique, but when my family moved to Florida at the start of my freshman year in high school, everything changed. I was now just one of 425 kids in the graduating class of '99. Had I stayed in Colorado, I would have been one of maybe 60. Was I popular in Florida? NO! I was new. I didn't go to one of the three middle schools in the area that defined who you were to be and what you would do in high school. I remember on my first day of summer school (signed up for summer PE to make friends), when I told a group of peers that I just moved from Colorado a few weeks earlier someone asked me if I knew what waffles were. Did we have waffles in Colorado. All I could think was "are you serious? you've got to be kidding- this is now my life?" The next question was just as bad "Did I have a fire place or had I ever seen a fireplace". Again, I definitely did not fit into any Florida box. Nor could I think it was because I had brown curly hair (a lot of girls there did), or that I was Jewish (our area of the suburbs was nicknamed little Israel). Here, I knew a little of why- I was not a JAP. That first day of summer school, I wore boxers, a T-shirt and sneakers (standard gym outfit). I had no make-up on and my brown curly hair was pulled back into a pony tail. The other girls were wearing jean shorts (Bongo's I bet), tank-tops and sandals (not your standard gym outfit), make-up and heavily ironed or sprayed hair. Now, I liked to be different. When I turned 16, I did not get a shiny new Honda Civic or an Accord or a Ford Explorer. My parents bought me and 1988 Volvo 240 GL. and I LOVED that car. I even had a crank sun-roof. Soon I could not have cared less where or how I fit in. College- no one needs to fit into anywhere in college. I feel like in college I became a lot of the person I am now and had a lot of experiences that may give my brain reasons for not fitting into where I am now in my life. That brings me to the point of this post. I am a working mother, a working wife, a working friend and a working daughter. I have little time to be anything but.
Most of the Mom's I know (locally) are either LDS (Latter-Day Saint) or heavy AP (Attachment Parenting). In both of those realms; mothers typically aren't employed out of the home. Sometimes in my brain, this causes conflict and I revert to questioning why I don't fit in a box and why I sometimes feel alienated.
Not being born into the Mormon faith, but later choosing it - I luckily escaped a lot of cultural pressures some of my friends were raised with. To be a wife and mother first before anything else. This is NOT doctrine. This is culture. Although the widely distributed The Family: A Proclamation to the World states: "Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation." The church also encourages women to get an education. President Gordon B. Hinckley, said in a 2007 address to young women "We live in a highly competitive age, and it will only grow more so, education is the key that will unlock the door of opportunity." In this years General Conference (semi-annual global address to all members for the church from leaders), Quentin L. Cook, one of the Apostles (our church has a living prophet and Apostles) gave a talk about LDS women. At one point he said "First, no woman should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children. Nothing could be more significant in our Father in Heaven’s plan. Second, we should all be careful not to be judgmental or assume that sisters are less valiant if the decision is made to work outside the home. We rarely understand or fully appreciate people’s circumstances." Although this has been touched upon by church leaders, there is still something "different" about being a full time working mother.
Let me tell you about my typical day:
6am Alarm goes off
6:05-6:25- If the babe is sleeping, I slip out of bed and pump milk. If he wakes up, I lie in bed with him while he nurses until he falls back asleep
6:45~7:15- Baby wakes up, lie back down with him nursing him back to sleep
If he doesn't go back to sleep I carry him around with me getting ready until I have to leave
7:20-7:45- Get dressed, wash pump, pack wake-up josh leave for work.
9-5- Work. Meetings, pump, work, more meetings, pump
6:30- 8-Home. Play with the baby, cuddle with baby, feed baby, bathe the baby, read to the baby, love that baby with all that I have.
8:15~9- Baby bed or nap time; his call. Bounce him, read to him, change him lie down with him until he falls asleep.
9:15-10:30- Josh and I make and eat dinner, maybe watch the news
11pm-12am- Computer/Carly time. email, blog, read, think about organizing things and making to do lists.
12:30-1- Get read for bed. Pump again. Go to sleep and do it all again in 5 hours.
Sounds awesome right? It is. and I'm not even being sarcastic. I love my life. Am I tired? Hell Yeah. Am I happy? Hell Yeah. I am at a place where I even love my job.
If now was a few years from now and I didn't need/want to work full time, would I? I don't know. I enjoy working, I enjoy working with adults, I enjoy getting a paycheck, I enjoy spending that paycheck, I enjoy having free health insurance. I enjoy being a smart, independent, successful women. At the same time, I LOVE my son, I LOVE my husband. I enjoy baking for them and cooking for them. I wish i could keep the house clean and laundry washed and take care of them when they are sick and take the boy to the park everyday and take him to museums and play dates, and have other mom friends to go out with at night without our husbands and kids. But when I am at home, the last thing I want to do is go out without my husband and son. I want to spend every single free second with them.
I now feel balanced. Someone once told me that they say to themselves when it comes to parenting "It only has to be good enough". I don't agree. Good enough does not cut it. I don't want my kids to say I was "good enough". I want them to say I was everything they could have ever hoped for in a Mom. I know I have a looooooong road ahead of me, but I think I am on the right track. When I am with my boy, I do what feels natural and they all fit into the basics of Attachment Parenting. Breastfeeding, Co-Sleeping, Baby wearing, being loving and tender. When I happen to not be working on the third Wednesday of the month I go to API meetings. The women there are wonderful, thoughtful, knowledgeable, "Earthy", warm...and mostly stay at home moms. On my AP list serves, most of the posts from working mom's mention feeling guilty about working, having a hard time finding AP friendly child care providers and similar issues. I am so lucky that when I can't be with my son, he is in
I might not fit into any box. I might feel alienated from my peers sometimes, but I am OK with that. I have become confident in who I am as a women, a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister and a daughter. I am brown curly-haired Carly. And that makes me happy.