This question has been coming back to me quite often these last few months. While California has been experiencing an abnormally wet winter, the state of my emotional self has also been experiencing a rather wet one too. This is a post I have wanted to write for a while, but the emotional rawness that accompanies the words cause me to keep pushing it back. However, like I’ve learned about myself time and time again, the only way for me to deal, process, and heel, is to put it all down into words. So, here I go.
While everyone around us were in celebration of love, family, peace, and making memories over the holidays, a storm was brewing beneath the surface. Every now an then the thunder rolled and lightning would strike an unsuspecting victim. Why was I feeling this way? Where was this self destructive, self pitying, self loathing, self coming from? It was time to turn on the lights and take a long hard look in the mirror.
While my mother has always cautioned me to not air out my dirty laundry, and to, “Keep the fire in the house,” Her inquiries of, “What’s going on?” set off the water works yet another time. This time, they kept flowing and flowing. Sometimes, all you need is just your mama. In this case, my mama helped me to pull up the heaviness of my being for some fresh air in the light.
My mama, you see, is the strongest most courageous woman I know. She survived the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s. She married my dad in a refugee camp in Thailand, the same camp where I was born. She traveled to a country with a toddler, and another baby on the way, without a penny to her name, and not knowing a single word of the language. And now, she lives 10 houses away from me, enjoying retired life after running a thriving business for twenty five years. That’s my mama.
Me, I am just a stay at home mom.
That sentence there, that deserves me a slap to the face. That’s that self loathing, self destructive, self pitying, self I dislike.
I am not just a stay at home mom.
I have sacrifice a professional career, so that someone else does not have to raise my children. It is up to me to create caring, compassionate, and confident human beings who will make loving contributions to our world. I keep their bellies, hearts, minds and dreams fed with nutrients. I am grateful for a husband who provides for us and allows for me to be here.
In addition to all my work in the home, I dedicate countless hours to my passions. A passion that does not pay in dollar signs, but pays in the number of lives changed through my work in advocating for the rights of blind people.
My two roles are causing imbalance, and my compass was washed overboard during one of the storms.
This husband of mine, the one who provides for us. He has been the one to help me see the sad eyes I’ve been trying to cover up. He is also the victim of my emotional storms and lightning strikes. Why is it that we typically take out our turmoil on those closest to us? He did not deserve my cold, mean, and hurtful behavior. He responded by shutting down and tuning out. This thus caused me to react with even more engine power as I search for land in the midst of my lonely seas. It wasn’t until my behavior was causing both of us to question the stability of our marriage that I began searching inward to find some answers.
I was feeling resentful because I felt like I had no control. I felt like since I did not contribute to the family financially I had no say in where our finances were being spent. Thus I made withdrawals out of our emotional bank account and only depositing anger, bitterness, and sadness in return.
Yes, I know that is ridiculous. In my head I know that I contribute so much more than can be added up in dollar signs. However, when I’m in that storm, it’s really difficult to see the sunshine through the tears. Recently I testified in a court case as an expert on blind parenting. Because I don’t have a list of letters behind my name, I didn’t make hundreds of dollars an hour. Because when I filed my taxes, I wrote, “Stay at home mom,” in the occupation field, I go back to questioning my worth in dollar signs.
I have posed the question to a few of my friends, and found their responses quite interesting.
How Do you measure the value and worth of a stay at home mom?
How would you answer that question?