Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Question I Don’t Want You to Ask Me

As a new mom, it’s easy to be sensitive to the all-too common inquisitions. 

Are you breastfeeding? Tried for about 3 weeks and gave up because it was torture.
How’s she sleeping? Like a boss since 12 weeks; probably because of the formula. 
Is that organic? Some of it is. Some of it's Cheetos.
 Are you trying for baby #2 yet? No. Maybe one day.  Maybe not.
Did she get the flu shot? Yes.  Then she got the flu anyway.
Did you make her baby food? No.
 Is she picky? She wasn’t.  Then she learned the word “No”.

Truthfully, I feel pretty good about my parenting decisions, so I’m not offended easily.  I’ll tell anyone who asks all the ways I became a better mother when I gave up breastfeeding.  I’ll tell you that yeah, sometimes I give Charlotte cookies when she has a meltdown so I can finish my dinner in peace. That happens. More often than it should.

None of these questions really bother me, but the one that stings may surprise you: Where’s Charlotte?!

Now, Where’s Charlotte may seem strange.  Allow me to elaborate. I’m talking about people asking Where’s Charlotte in the middle of the day.  When I’m at the post office. Or Home Goods.  Or Harris Teeter. When I’m on my lunch break. 

Yeah.  I’m on my lunch break because I work.  

It’s 2017.  Women work.

So where’s Charlotte?  Well, she’s at preschool, where she spends 40 hours per week.  A place that she loves and where she smiles and giggles and jumps for joy upon arrival. She loves the toys, and the teachers, and her friends, and the crafts, and the playground.

Now I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, a southern thing, a privileged thing, or what.  But when I tell people she’s at school because I work, the facial expressions say everything from “Poor girl, she has to work”, to “I hate to think of poor baby Charlotte in daycare.”

It’s important to make a clear distinction here.  And that is that I want to work.  That may be hard for some to understand, but I need to work for my mental health.  I need to work to feel fulfilled.  I need to work to feel accomplished. To have adult conversations.  To feel respected for my opinions. 

And truth be told, I’m a better mom for it.  I look forward to seeing Charlotte every night after work.  I look forward to reading her report card (Charlotte was Happy/Busy/Chatty today!  We sang songs!  We painted Valentines!). I savor and appreciate the time we have together each day and on the weekend.  And you know what?  I look forward to work too. 

To the moms that stay home, whether by choice or necessity, you’re amazing.  Truly.  I admire you and respect you.  I think that must be the actual hardest job in the world, and anyone who acts like you get to drink with Hoda and Kathy Lee every morning in your pajamas eating bonbons is taking crazy pills. 

To the moms that work, whether by choice or necessity, you’re amazing.  It’s not easy juggling parenting with work.  

At the end of the day, we’re all just doing what’s best for our families. And moms, if you haven’t figured this out yet, doing what's best for you is the best thing you can do for your family.  You heard it here first.

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