Importance of Parenting.

Something profound happened recently and I have been thinking about it a lot. It was one of those conversations that you don’t expect for the last person you would expect to tell you or talk to you. While sitting in the ballroom, after just finishing our Golf Classic’s dinner reception and speakers… I was approached by one of Matthew’s bosses. He sat near me and I introduced him to my father. He told me he wanted to tell me something that he has carried for a long time. What he told me reminded me of my worth as a mom and woman, more than I could have imagined.

For many years I was a Stay at Home mom to my girls. It was a hard choice, but I don’t think Matthew or I really saw as a choice when Madeline joined us. We live far from our families, we both worked a lot of hours and neither of us really knew people well enough to entrust them with our newest Musto. I stayed home and we grew our family quickly- Madeline, Amelia and Lucy in less than 3 years (doesn’t that deserve a medal???). I left the social working world, where I had many friends and activities to care for the girls. I was very lonely in the beginning. It was really just Madeline, Sparky and I… for me it was the hardest part- the lonely. Over time I made new friends and joined a mom’s group. I found activities for the girls and I, as well as friends who connected with me on the ‘mom’ level. We started to rock the stay at home part, I feel like they were my little team, my little set. There were MANY challenging days, days where I got to the end of the day and felt like I had been kicked, puked on and feed off of for the entire day. There were days that felt like all I did was prep food, wash up… prep food and wash up ALL.DAY.LONG. There were days that my only conversations were with people who wanted to tell me “No” or throw things. There were days where I could not wait for the door to open, for another adult to take the reins and to run away. Other days were such a blessing. I see it now, now that one of my daughters is no longer here. I see the miracle in the mundane. I saw them grow, I saw them at their worst and best (as they saw me) and I loved them anyway. When it came down to writing a letter to Madeline’s Kindergarten teacher I knew so much about her that it was easy. I saw all the sick days, all the playground moments, I saw those birthday’s celebrated before daddy could get home. I loved pick up from preschool and lunch with my girls. I am very lucky to have had that.

There was another side to being a SAHM that was very hard for me. My whole life I had these grand ideas that I would be successful. I worked my butt off in school and college. I loved science and writing papers, I loved doing work. I enjoyed working and learning new things, things I saw as important. I felt like I was a growing professional, even though I worked in a clean room and wore yoga pants to work. I felt like a grown up. I was comfortable in most situations because I knew I had something smart to say. Once I stayed home with my girls I was pretty cut off from that world. I still saw my friends and we met up, I attended Matt’s work functions and I hung out with some friends regularly that had fancy grow up jobs. I always felt that they were smarter and more sophisticated than me, that I was inferior. I didn’t go out learning new things, travel for business, enjoy happy hours or wear nice clothes. I spent all.friggin.day talking to little people, teaching them to go potty and sending them to the naughty tile when they were unkind. I felt unaccomplished and stupid around these people. I know now that it was a huge insecurity for me, something I have worked very hard on- my worth. I also realize there were many pokes and digs about working on my vocabulary or exercising my brain (because you know it is a muscle too).

What I didn’t see is the other side of the work I was doing…

Several years ago now, I went with Matthew to his work Christmas party. I thought all day about my outfit- a black textured mini skirt, a red tank and black cardigan… with tights and high hot heels. I worked really hard to look pretty and professional. I went in there rocking that goal, but failing on the courage front. I walked into a room of people that I felt inferior too, I felt insecure and not smart. I knew that they were all professionals, engineers and project managers. I felt small and unimportant. I see now and I saw then that there were people who purposefully treated me that way as well. I almost left several times, and if you know me I love social scenes. I remember going into the bathroom and sometime after finding this woman and we talked most of the night away. I remember sitting with a coworker of Matthew’s who is funny and needed a place to feel welcome too. We talked and drank a little wine and ate rolls…

Fast forward to a few weeks ago…

Matthew’s boss sat next to me at the Golf Classic, as it wound down. He told me he had to tell me something. After I had introduced him to my dad he told me he knew I wouldn’t remember but… a few years back at the Christmas Party he and his wife came. She came in from Syracuse to be there and she felt insecure, small and not really smart like all of those engineers and project managers. She and I connected and chatted most of the evening and connected on the SAHM level. We both felt that our work wasn’t like the work the people in that room did, that were just hang out with littles. I remember not feeling so alone when we sat together. I look back now and wish I could have told us we were silly to feel that way… but it took this long to learn that and know it.

Soon after that party Madeline was diagnosed and very quickly headed out to heaven. He told his wife that it was my daughter, the Erin she sat with and talked about parenting and mom-hood with. He told me they were both very upset and sad. I said thank you. I confessed that I had felt that way, that I felt inferior… like my work didn’t matter. He told me he knows that his wife was doing the BIG work. He knew that she was doing the important work and he knew it was hard. He sounded like he loved and admired his wife. It was refreshing.

What I was reminded of in those moments is the BIG work we do as parents. I was reminded to that time, when I felt insecure and small in a group of people who would have rather not talked engineering and projects. I was reminded of the important work I was and am doing…

For I have girls who laugh and live and cry and breathe and grow and give and share and build and get mad… I have really good people. I have these girls who not only have great potty going skills… but they love people. I have girls who know boundaries and naughty tiles are for the birds… who fill buckets more than they empty (we are all human). In all that important parenting work, whether I had been a working momma or Stay-at-home the work is important. Every lesson and smile, every broken and fixed, every little deal or big… was important work.

My only wish is that I had felt and seen and known it before. Every moment is not treasure to me, but it is all important. Every hard day will have a good one to come… so chin up parents- be kind to you and secure in your importance.

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