I was at my 20th High School reunion last week. It was strange and wonderful and a little creepy all at once. I walked away with renewed relationships and with a heavy dose of disappointment in myself.
I was (pleasantly) not the only one that had five children. No small task considering I was the only Mormon in the entire student body. I was, however, almost without exception, the only woman that didn’t work. And now comes the disappointment.
I found it difficult to say, when asked, that I was a stay-at-home mother. I heard myself saying things like, “I do freelance writing on the side.” “I’ve got this little non-profit gig that I’m a part of.” “I help run this small literary organization.” It all sounds very glamorous, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. I spend my days squarely in the housewife crowd. I’m qualified to clean vomit and love children.
I just couldn’t own it.
And it troubles me.
Was there some pressure to have “accomplished it all”? Was there some unseen code that left me unworthy if I didn’t manage a career and children? I don’t know if I felt it from my fellow reunion attendees, or if I was placing the pressure on myself. Was I the cause of my own dissatisfaction? I can’t imagine anyone was actually judging me for my choices (although there were a few raised eyebrows at the five kids thing).
I wouldn’t want to be anywhere in the world but where I am. I know I have the luxury of having this debate because I don’t have to work to help support our family. I don’t feel oppressed or beaten down for not continuing my career. But I couldn’t just say I was raising my family. I couldn’t just be content with the truth.
I’ve been troubled by it for eight days now. I am a capable and competent adult woman. I manage a household and consider it my greatest challenge and privilege. I am not afraid of confrontation. I’m a middle aged woman who is comfortable in her own skin. Or so I thought…
I’m on the road this weekend, coming home from the mid-west. If anyone has ever been as troubled as me and decides to comment, I’ll reply whenever I can find wi-fi!