My mom loves to tell people that when she would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always gave the same answer- a mommy. Never a doctor, an astronaut, a singer, or a vet...always a mommy. It's true; I've wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. During my growing up years that included staying at home like my mom did. Still, if you had told me a few years ago that today I would be a breastfeeding, bed sharing, stay-at-home mom, I would have laughed at you.
Life in the "real world" put a fear in me that financially we could never make it on one income. Joey was convinced it was necessary for us to both work, and at the time I didn't really have an argument because I couldn't see a way around it either. So I worked on climbing the corporate ladder.
While working I came across many types of moms- single moms, married moms with supportive husbands and with jerk off husbands, those who worked full-time, part-time, and some that just needed to get out of the house and have a little adult conversation. I wondered what type of mom I would be. Lots of moms stand out in my mind when I think back about all the lovely ladies that worked for me over the years. I didn't realize it at the time, but each of them were teaching things that I needed to know before being a mom myself. Without giving any names, I'll tell you about a few that I have much more respect for now that I get it.
First, is the single mom. I respected her at the time to be sure. I saw the struggle it was for her to both provide for her son, and to be there for him as much as possible. She worked two jobs to support them. Full-time 8-5, and part-time for me a few nights a week and on weekends. As was the norm for being the boss, I was the bad guy. The retail world doesn't stop for baseball games or all the countless birthday parties that kids get invited to. She wanted to do it all, but I needed her to work. She slowly became more and more depressed that she saw so little of her son, and her performance dropped off a cliff. I felt for her, but my boss was chewing and that had to stop. We had a talk and she decided that she couldn't make the job work anymore. I was relieved that I didn't have to continue to nag on her performance, or worse take "next steps". I ran into this mom on Mother's Day. I was strolling through the mall, enjoying my day with Gabriel and Joey. She was working. My heart broke for her. I wished her a happy Mother's Day, gave her a hug, and whispered, "I'm so sorry." in her ear. Without saying a word, her face told me, "You do what you have to do." I know I will for Gabriel.
Second, the breastfeeding mom. I'll say first that breastfeeding never really interested me. My mom didn't BF me, and no one I knew had breastfed either. It seemed unnecessary, and I wondered why anyone would bother when formula seemed to produce healthy children too. This mom was pregnant with her second son when I took over the store she worked in. She soon after left on maternity leave, and returned to work afterwards carrying a big black tote bag. Everyday she toted that heavy thing into work, and quite a bit of time went by before I even realized what it was for- pumping. How it went unnoticed that she went to the bathroom during her lunch break everyday, and didn't come out until her lunch was over is...well, sad. When I did notice, I thought ewwww! I was repulsed that she spent her entire lunch break eating and pumping in the bathroom. I wondered why anyone would subject themselves to such torture. Ugh...eating in the bathroom? No way! Any musings on what it would be like to breastfeed flew right out of my head. Nothing to think about. I wasn't doing it. Luckily I was an avid reader while pregnant. I learned the benefits to bfing and decided to give it a try. I knew I'd only bf during my maternity leave though. There was no way I was hanging out in the bathroom on my lunch break! As it turned out, I didn't return to work. Looking back I keep kicking myself for allowing her to pump in the bathroom. She never complained, and it didn't occur to me to figure out a better place for her. The parking lot was too far considering we only had 30min lunch breaks, and the stock room wouldn't have provided any privacy. The only other option was my office. Really my office wasn't just mine though. It was used by her and our PT managers too, so I don't know if that was a great option. It had a lock on the door, but I wonder if she would have just worried the whole time that someone would need in the file cabinet while she was in there. I could have figured something out for her, but I didn't know any better. Poor thing pumped in the bathroom for months on end. I cringe at the thought, but if the bathroom was my only option, I'd do the same thing for Gabriel.
Lastly, I'll tell you about the mom that just had to get out of the house. I'll tell you about one of them, but there were actually MANY of this type of mom! This mom was a stay-at-home mom of two little ones. She started working PT to have an opportunity for adult conversation. As it turned out, working really suited her. It gave her the boost of confidence she needed after spending most of her days playing peek-a-boo while wearing spit-up. She quickly became interested in working towards a promotion, which meant more hours. After she received that one, she was determined to get promoted again. That promotion was a FT position. This was the mom I had a hard time understanding. She was able to stay at home like I wanted to, but chose to work instead. I understand now that being a stay-at-home mom is a thankless job. No one comes by to compliment you on your successes on a regular basis. There are no performance reviews to praise your strengths and help you to build on your opportunities. There are no interviews for you to brag about all you've accomplished. No promotions. No pay raises....and worse, no pay at all! Having all of those things gave this mom the oompf she needed. Her relationship with her husband started to spark and she was overall a happy and confident woman. I see how I lack the confidence I once had while I was working. I'd like to get it back in another way, but I respect her decision to work for the happiness of her and her family. Whatever the reason, I'll never judge a working mom again.
Now that I'm a mom, I realize that as long as you love your child unconditionally and provide all their needs, there are no right and wrong ways to be a mom. What works for some, would never work for others. So whatever type of mom you are, be her with confidence!
What type of mom are you? Is that what you expected?