I have made quite a few friends out there on the internet over the years. Mainly we bond over our shared love of music and literature. Sometimes, its the common bond of motherhood.
Yet, while we talk about parenting issues and share stories, I find that more often than not, I feel left out. They talk about breastfeeding, first steps and preschool play dates...and I talk about my daughter's trips to the mall. Its just not the same.
It makes me feel like an outsider. When other stay at home moms begin talking about a day in the life of their household, I find myself struggling to compare. I am not chasing a toddler around the house for 8 hours a day. My daughter is off in school. I don't give baths at night; I watch TV and then braid her hair when she gets out of the shower. I don't carpool, volunteer at the preschool or arrange play dates. I wait at the bus stop, play chauffeur on weekends and help with homework when needed (which is hardly ever).
Sometimes I get the question, "why are you at home when your daughter is almost grown up already?" And you know, that is a very good question. Because I am still a mom. I may not have an infant attached to my hip 24/7, but I am still just as much a mother as anyone.
I wake up early, make breakfast, take my daughter to the bus stop. I am here in case she needs me to pick her up. I pick her up from the bus stop. I make her dinner. I talk to her. I am available to her 24/7. When I was working, I was already at work when she woke up in the morning. If she got sick at school, I had to call my mother to go pick her up. When she had a chicken pox scare a few years ago, I would have gotten fired for missing the days necessary to stay home with her because I didn't have enough vacation time to take the time off. When I got home from work, I was exhausted, mentally and physically. I spent 11 hours a day out of the house. I simply didn't have the energy to carry on a conversation with her when I got home. During weekends, we never did anything fun because I wanted to rest and recuperate from the stressful week. I was a crappy mother and I knew it. I simply couldn't balance the job and family life. Others can do it. Fine, great for them. I couldn't.
I began working when she was about 6 months old and didn't stop until she was 12. Who's to say that the toddler years are any more important than the adolescent years? She is going through puberty. She is growing up. She needs me now more than she did when she had a dirty diaper. She loves it that I am at home. She has been through a lot the past few years, what with her father dying. She has become a happier, healthier child since I quit working to stay home.
I get odd looks from some people when I tell them I quit working to stay home to spend more time with my family. Screw them. At what point would I stop being a mother? Are you kidding me?