On Friday I came across a blog entry about the debate over whether moms should work or stay at home. Reading through the comments I became more and more enraged at the ridiculousness of both arguments and the petty, catty tone of the women writing them. I can’t believe how easily women turn on each other. I have never had a choice about working. For us it’s not a matter of sacrificing eating out or shopping at Walmart so that I can stay home. If I don’t work full time we can’t afford to pay our bills. PERIOD. So I work.. even though it kills me to leave my kids every day. I can’t think about whether or not it would be better for me to stay home because I simply do not have the option. Society finds so may ways to make women feel guilty and inadequate. It’s time we band together and change the tone of these conversations. All of us feel overwhelmed and guilty about something. All of us question whether we are making the right decisions. It wouldn’t be such a heated debate if people really felt the answers were so black and white. It’s the gray areas that catch us and put us on the defensive. If we could just stop arguing and start recognizing that we are all simply trying to make the best choices for our families maybe we could help each other to be better mothers instead of attacking each other.
So I spent the morning freaking out about the whole thing and trying not to let some of the comments get to me (one particularly lovely lady wrote about how she chose to stay home with her kids and now that she is back to work teaching school she can TOTALLY TELL which kids have moms who cared enough to stay home the first five years). It so happens that I was actually home with my kids on Friday. My daughter had a fever and, since she has had two febrile seizures, we don’t mess with fevers in our house. I came home from work so I could spend the day pumping her full of Tylenol and Motrin in an attempt to ward off any sudden temperature spikes.
I was still coming up with retorts to the whole awful argument as I laid my kids down in my bed to read books before nap time. I read through The Giving Tree once on autopilot. Then a little voice said “Read it again, Giving Tree, Mama.” I looked at my two year old. Her eyes were glassy and she was laying there limp and lethargic, a shadow of her typical self. I snapped out of my revere and reached over to brush the hair from her flushed forehead. ” You want this one again? You don’t want a different book?” She shook her head no. “OK, baby. We’ll read this one again.”
As I turned back to the beginning of the book I was suddenly completely aware of everything in that moment. A breeze blew in the window carrying the smell of freshly cut grass. My three month old son kicked his pudgy little legs and cooed between us. And it occurred to me that nothing else mattered. I was here right now with the two most perfect little people in the world. I could feel their warmth and hear their breath. They are alive and beautiful and I am the center of their world.
My weekend was filled with moments like that.. moments of grace where time moved more slowly for just a few seconds.. just long enough for me to take in the details and commit them to memory- The sound of Rory’s laugh as she played in the lake, the feel of her lips as she kissed my nose, my cheeks, my mouth, my ears.. again and again. And, finally, the heat of my son’s solid little body as I rocked him in the dark after a long day.. not wanting to put him down because as soon as I did he would be a little bit older.
I wish we could all stop focusing on what we are, are not or should be doing. I’m as guilty of it as anyone else. I’m going to try, though, to live in the moment a little bit more.. to really appreciate what I have. When it comes down to it my kids won’t remember how much or how little time I was able to spend with them. They will remember the quality of that time and the love they received.