the barefoot parade

My five-year old son asked me the other day when I was going to get a ‘real job’.  This innocent inquiry made me sad.  It brought me to tears.   I am a ‘stay at home mom’.  I am a stay at home mom who cleans houses, sells jewelery and art, babysits and barters in order to be a stay at home mom.  It was a choice.  It is MY choice.  It is the hardest job I have ever had in my life (and I have had many, many jobs).  It is the hardest job I will EVER have.  I have never felt so challenged, so tired, so judged, EVER.  It is also heartbreaking to feel that often times the hardest judgement comes from…other mothers.  Why are we so hard on one another?  I have never looked at a mom who has had to, or chosen to return to work and looked down upon her.  I do wonder how they do it.  But in awe, not judgement.  My circumstances at the time I was pregnant were different from some.  I was working at a job that was not my career.  I loved my job and still miss it and my co-workers dearly.  At times I feel like I have had to sacrifice A LOT in order to be at home with my son.  I sometimes feel like my life is on hold because of this choice.  In some ways I suppose it is.  I will be starting from scratch when I do return to work.  I have lost most, if not all of my professional contacts and feel so far removed from the loop it could have morphed into a pretzel by now.  I don’t get to indulge and throw myself into my art as much as I would like.  I very rarely spend quality time with friends (especially ones without children).  In some ways it feels like you are savagely ripped from your ‘real’ life, from society.  This was by choice?  Yes.  I choose this.  Everyday I wake up I choose it again.  But don’t most moms feel that way from time to time?  More often than not I feel like I am misunderstood.  I’ve been called lazy, afraid, a princess, unfocused and indecisive.  I have moments when I fall into that toxic line of thinking.  But I also have moments when I think I am a brave, patient, loving, risk-taker.  When it comes right down to it, it feels right…for us.  I have prayed over this choice, I have surrendered it, I have over analyzed it and it still feels right…for us.  It is not a job that gives you monetary rewards.  There are no official awards.  No promotions or climbing of any corporate ladders.  No rule books.  There isn’t even a complaint box.  My house isn’t as spotless as everyone assumes it should be.  When I am exhausted at the end of the day I often can’t scratch a million things off of my ‘to do list’ and am left with the nagging feeling that perhaps I didn’t accomplish a thing that day.  My ego is so battered and bruised I can barely recognize my old self.  But I know that I will never regret this decision.  I will never regret this God gifted privilege of time.  Despite all of the judgement and the bumps and bruises, I know with all of my heart that we have been given a precious gift.

I wasn’t sure how to answer my son when he asked me when I was to get my ‘real job’.  I didn’t want to respond ‘well, you are my job’.  That may give him the wrong impression, that he is work.  But he is work, hard work.  What prompted this big question from my little boy?  How is it that we have come to a day and age where we are being judged because we choose to be at home with our children full-time.  Woman are expected to be perfect housewives and lovers, perfect friends, perfect mothers, perfect business partners and professionals.  What ARE we doing to ourselves?  Can it be true that it is moms judging moms?  Doesn’t it take a village?  We have to stick together!   Help fill in the gaps for one another.  To cheer one another on.  To promise to be each others biggest fans and supporters.  No one will understand us like, well we do.  It is time to lift each other up in grand applause.  Aren’t we all on the same team?  Aren’t we all striving towards  the same goal?

You know the saying, ‘don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes’.  Here, take mine.  You can have them for as long as you need them.  I’m pretty sure that if I tried on yours I would polish them up and make them look shiny and new.  I would try to make your life a little easier, a little prettier, attempt to make your load a little lighter.  But for one moment, perhaps we could all throw our shoes into a big pile and forget about them.  Let’s have one big barefoot parade.  Let’s get back to a place where we can look at each other judgement free and rediscover common ground.  Let’s encourage growth.  Let’s pick one another up.  Let’s love one another.  And when it is time to put our shoes back on, let’s just take a look at all of the beautiful choices we have.  Some wear ballet flats, some red stiletto’s, others running shoes or steel toe boots…different yes, but they are ALL big shoes to fill.