Saturday, October 28, 2006

I Wrote to Oprah

But she didn't write back. (Yet, that is.)

Okay, so this one time I was clicking around (you go there too--you know you do), and I saw some question about working moms and I got on some toot to respond, and I wrote this response:

I think the roughest challenge facing Moms is deciding how much to work—not whether to stay home or whether to work but how much of our lives to give to the things that are not our family. I’m not talking about the need for cash here. I’m talking about our life work—whatever it is that we were put here to do.

As I see it, our culture seems to offer two choices (and they’re both capitalized everywhere you look): Working Mother or Stay-at-Home Mom. We have babies and then we’re supposed to check the box: which will it be?

Why is no one talking about the mother who works a little, stays home a little, drives a little--well, probably drives a lot--reads a little to her kids, reads a little for herself, hangs with her husband a little, with her friends a little, gives away her time a little . . . .

We seem to have bought the paradigm the working world offers: employee or non-employee. I want to be more than the employee of my life.

I feel strongly about this because it’s been incredibly difficult for me. It’s taken me a handful of years to see that it’s okay not to pick which mom camp I’m in. I need to make some money. I need to be with my boys. I need to do the creative work that I do. I need to do the volunteer work that I do. I need to be awake in my relationship with my husband. And I’m working hard right now to sculpt a life that is packed with pieces of all of these things. I’m not crossing things off my list; I’m portioning them.

Are we telling each other as women that this is a legit means of tackling life—or are we just standing in two camps, busy misunderstanding those women on the other side of the line?

About me: I teach at the local university; I write music and sing for kids; I spend time with my husband, with my friends, with my kids; I volunteer; I thrift shop. I don’t do any of these things full time.


Ruth said...

Ginger.. I think you're on to something here! 21 years into this motherhood adventure and I am still fighting to find the balance: I create ballet costumes (, foster rescued beagles for adoption, spend time giggling with friends, chat with my daughter who's now in college, and pester my husband just to keep things lively! And I don't do any of it full-time, either!!

--ginger. said...

Beeeeeuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutiful costumes, ruth!