I’d love to pretend that I’m thick skinned. But I’m not. In fact, I’m like those crazy, transparent goldfish just invented by Japanese scientists. Yep, that’s my big, bleeding heart right there.
So it was no surprise that I was wounded by a line from another blog I was skimming. The author, who shall remain URL-less, noted that she took on blogging full time because she wasn’t going to let a stranger raise her kids.
Ouch. Got me right there (of course, you can see where because I’m a transparent goldfish).
Yes, I work. Not just on this fledgling blog, but as a teacher nine months out of the year. And I have a beast of a commute, so I’m gone ten hours a day. Does it mean crying in my car at the start of every school year? Does it mean driving like a maniac when someone is sick at home? Yes, this and so much more.
However, I’ve never thought of it as allowing someone else to raise my kids anymore than I imagine the parents of my students think that I am raising their children. Yes, the au pairs in my sons’ lives will play an influential role in their character and physical development and sometimes I love that and sometimes not so much.
At this point in the post, I thought about explaining the benefits of being a working mom. You know, having an identity outside of being a mom, the financial benefits of paying into retirement and having insurance, etc. etc. However, I don’t want to cause any other transparent goldfish pain for being in the other tank, so to speak.
Instead, I’ll just name five ways I still feel like I’m raising my boys and doing it pretty well, thank you very much:
1. Quality over Quantity:
Through maternity leave and summers at home, I have a sense of what it is to be a stay at home mom. My studies indicate that there can be too much of a good thing. Being away from my boys (if only for a quick shopping trip) makes me miss their sticky kisses and mischievous little smiles. When I know my time is precious with them, I treat it as such.
Being a teacher has made me a better mom. Having had literally thousands of children under my care before having my own really helped me to establish my role as a mentor, not a buddy, among about a million other things. I think that any major investment in one arena of our lives ultimately enriches the other.
I’m reflective about every choice I make as a mom (even though I don’t make great choices every time). My husband and I are very conscientious about the products, people, ideas, practices, etc. in our boys’ lives. Even though we can’t be around all the time, I hope this careful approach means that our influence is.
We’re not a religious family, but I’m huge on magic and tradition. I want my boys to look back on their childhoods with a strong sense of nostalgia for the wonder and charm of their Christmases, birthdays, etc. Even though I work, I take time to do seasonal crafts, decorate our home, plan outings, watch movies and listen to music that spins a little web of awe around celebrations.
Whether I’m at work or at home, I know my boys feel my love. Recently we purchased a Toymail character, Hank. This plush, Wi-Fi enabled gadget allows me to send messages to Fox when I’m on break. With the help of his au pair, he can send messages back. Another thing I’ve done is make Fox a collage of photos of the people who love him in a giant heart shape on his wall. Of course, the number of kisses, hugs, and “I love you”s I manage to fit into the hours I’m home is absolutely nauseating. Just because I’m not around all the time doesn’t mean I love my kids any less.
Bottom line, we are all doing the best we can. Sure, I’d like to be around my boys even more, but the idea that I’m not a full time mom should seem ridiculous to anyone who is a mom. Whether I’m in my classroom or holding Fox or Bear in my arms, I’m momming it, and I know that in my transparent little heart.