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Thursday, July 24, 2014

15 minutes about "mom friends"

I'm so deliriously tired this week that I can't type straight. It's really frustrating. This week hasn't been any different from the others, but, if you're a mom of littles, you know what that means. Which is exactly what I'm writing about today.

I think that we are in a strange place as a culture right now. It hasn't been but a generation or two ago that nearly all women were stay at home moms, and not always by choice. We've earned a right to vote, and a place in the workforce, and my mom's generation, for the most part, jumped on that opportunity. She says that she didn't know any other stay at home moms when my brothers and I were all little. Culture changed, women found community in the workplace and neighborhoods were no longer filled with women who were all in the same boat - at home all day every day.

Another big change that has affected the family dynamic in America is the increasing mobility of your average family. Less and less couples are raising their children near extended family.

When you combine shifting gender roles with a changing family dynamic, it puts us stay at home moms in a difficult place sometimes. It's uncommon to have more than one or two stay at home moms in the same neighborhood anymore (not that neighbors really know each other nowadays, anyway). Also, women are less likely to have the physical help that nearby grandparents, aunts and uncles would have provided 20 or 30 years ago.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Loneliness. I don't think women were designed to interact mainly with their children all day, and the burden of housekeeping and childrearing properly is too much for one person. You know what they say... "it takes a village"...

One neat response to this has been increasing involvement on the fathers' part, which I'm all for, but there are just so many things about being a mother that only a mother can understand. Or maybe I should say "stay at home parent" instead of "mother". I think that's more what I'm getting at here.

I could complain to my husband every day...and sometimes I difficult it is to watch him go to work every day and not get to do that - think thoughts and accomplish things and such. I could try to make him understand how much I love what I do but sometimes I hate it just as much, and all I dream about it quiet and alone time and to not be needed immediately 157 thousand times a day. I could tell him how trying to update my resume makes me sad because I don't really know if that woman exists anymore other than in my memory.

But it would really just come off as whining. It would take a thousand words a day to explain the complexity of the emotions of being a stay at home parent, but if you haven't been there, you just can't possibly get it.

But when I get with my mom group, all it takes is a sentence or two. An exchanged glance and a knowing nod. We're a club, bound by our sleep deprivation induced sanity and our inability to pick what we want because our loudest thoughts are about what our family wants. The dual and conflicting emotions that come with parenting - "I just love them so much it hurts!" "I swear if he does that one more time I'm going to kick him out of the house!"

I've lived in two places since I became a mom, and in both of them I made creating community for stay at home moms a priority. Just like many other career choices, being a stay at home mom is really tough and really rewarding. I believe that what will make you or break you is finding the other women in your community to help shoulder the burden and watch your kids so you can get one of those elusive things called a bathroom break.

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