Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mountain Climbers

Wow. It's been nearly a year since I last posted on my blog. Wow. A couple things have happened since then.

First things first. The oldest two boys (that belong to me) are at Grandma's. For the week. (As I type this, I hear loud, thunderous banging and hammering and a compressor and nail gun. Hardwood floors. Hence the week at Grandma's.)

But, also as I type this, my youngest and newest addition is happily playing on his playmat. True irony, since I'm about to post how important it is to pay attention to one's children. He has me 99% of the time; my blog can have me 1%, right? Just kidding. I will stop and start this post about 457 times.

Back to the point at hand. I had a third baby! That in itself is definitely news. But the bigger news is that I am, for the time being, continuing to stay home to care for him. And the 3.5-year old son. And the 6-year old son who now believes he's pretty much in charge of all of us.

Why is this news? Because of the constant, unrelenting reminder from our society that when you are a Stay-at-Home-Mom, you are pretty much WORTH LESS THAN A PAID PROFESSIONAL. My time is worth less. My ideas are worth a bit less. And my salary; I guess that is truthfully much less.

When I was in the hospital having this third baby, I got into some interesting, high-brow discussions with some of the medical staff. The anesthesiologist. The nurses. The attending. The OB about to perform my Cesarean surgery. Then, after this beautiful, adorable and otherwise healthy baby had to go to the NICU (intensive care) 4 hours after birth, the neonatalologist. I had a very intense discussion with her. The spellchecker wants me to change that last one to "neocolonialist."  Isn't that funny?

Each of them--EACH, asked me the same question in the middle of or after said stimulating conversations, "What do you do?" 

What do you do?

It's an expectation. My husband said I should be flattered, at that assumption. I wanted to retort, "I DO a lot of things. Mostly, I THINK." But the question kept coming, over and over. "What do you do?"  I felt this undue pressure, to recant all of the impressive and amazing things that I DID do, previously, in my professional life. Data analysis. Risk management. Finance and accounting, budgeting, cash flow analysis, HR and PR and marketing and communications -- and a million other skills / buzzwords.

We went to visit a friend in their new house in Suburban Denver, CO. She told me that when they first moved to the neighborhood, a new neighbor came over to meet them that was an OB/GYN. And a Mom. She asked my friend, "What do YOU do?" And my friend told her she was staying home with her girls.

"Oh."  She said, clearly disappointed.

Sorry, I didn't realize staying at home made you stupid, ineffectual and lacking in fodder for stimulating conversation. 

I had another very good friend admit to me that when she heard about a mutual friend (who attended a prestigious, private university) staying home, her immediate response was, "I was surprised! I mean, she's realllly smart."

Sorry, I didn't' realize staying home made you stupid, and a waster of good private college money.

For the past two years, I've gone as my husband's guest to an annual Economic update and happy hour of the DC Alumni of his prestigious (but grounded) Business school. Each person there probably at the top of their career game, each earning.. well, let's just say a lot of them are 1%-ers.

Everyone I spoke to asked what I did. I was dressed like a professional, I acted like a professional, I made jokes like a professional. I longed to still be a professional during those conversations. I simply stated that I started a small business and that I had (at the time) two young boys. 

When I'm in line at a food establishment that is in a busy area with many professionals, and I'm out with my boys (hoping to procure a meal of some sort with them), and I'm dressed as "myself"? Lord, help me. I will be cut off and brushed and jostled. Nobody--and I mean, nooooooobody, will assist me. [To be fair, I assume this depends on what part of the country you live in, and we live in a very high-powered, high-income, high-self-importance area.]

But the point is, I am not respected. My time is not respected.

And that doesn't feel good!

But I'm not bitter. 

No, seriously. All sarcasm aside, I'm not bitter because I get it. I remember being on the other side, being swamped with work from work and having work dominate my entire psyche. Work is hard, which is why we named it aptly. 'Work'.

Not only am I not bitter, I've started enjoying all the myriad moments in my life, since many are fleeting (baby toes and baby giggles come to mind) and I've had the internal debate about when I'll return to work. Traditional work. For now, I have an incredible opportunity to shape three little lives that have forever changed me, and my outlook, and my goals and dreams. And savings plans. 

And the biggest news yet? With all my buckets of free time (sarcasm here), I've decided to write a book. Fiction. I've floated the idea to a group of my respected reader friends, and they loved it.

Why not climb a mountain or two, while I'm hoisting my children above my career? I'm strong enough. 




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