Masks Off: The Mother I Could Have Been

We’re less than a week away from Halloween! If you had to design a costume that channeled your true, innermost self, what would that costume look like? Would you dare to wear it?

wannabemom

A while back I wrote a post titled Dream Reader: Perspective On Being A Disappointed Daughter. I still struggle with modern day expectations of motherhood. My daughters are grown women now with their own wonderful ambitions and lives. The above image is my view of “stay-at-home motherhood.” Yes, very 1960s.

I have always had to work. Don’t get me wrong, I loved to work, even when my girls were babies. My job provided wonderful leisure opportunities to families and I often got to see the fruits of my labor by visiting the activities I had planned. I even dragged my children to those activities, whether it was cooking hot dogs for a special event in the park, visiting the dedication of a community center or watching the swim meets I had planned all week. But, I always felt a tinge of guilt for being a working mom.

All around me were young women at my church who got to stay at home with their children. Their husbands actually made enough money to support the entire family…I had to work, because I carried the family’s medical and dental benefits. My husband at the time could not keep a job long enough to accomplish this. It was always difficult to hear how the moms would get together in the parks with their kids during the summer in the middle of the day and socialize. How I longed to be a part of that! My saving grace (besides God, of course) was my wonderful day care lady who practically raised my daughters until they started school. I could leave them with her in her lovely day-care home and I knew that they would be nurtured and cared for as if they were her own. I was also grateful to my own mother and my mother-in-law when they would come visit in the summertime and take care of the girls, since summers were my busiest times of year for work.

If my life had been different, I would have loved to have been Suzy Homemaker, even if it was just for a few years. With my youngest daughter, I was back to work after 5 whole weeks of maternity leave. I just missed the 6-month family leave benefits that hadn’t been implemented at my workplace yet. Yes, I would have worn the costume seen in the above image: apron, dress, heels, pearls, (aka June Cleaver). Instead I looked and felt more like this:

singlemom

When I became a single mom, my daughters were 10 and 7 years old. I did it all and did it without alimony or child support. We managed, we failed, we conquered. Ultimately, we are all the better for it. My daughters are strong, independent women, whom I love with all my heart.

Without the costume, I may have done something right!

Masks Off

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13 thoughts on “Masks Off: The Mother I Could Have Been

  1. It sounds like you did a great job of mothering, despite the challenges you faced! Now, it seems that there are so many more approaches to “mothering” being done successfully–certainly more than when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s.

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  2. I love this. My story is so similar. Of course, your daughters are strong independent women. Our daughters learn from us. I always wondered what parts of us are they seeing? Thank you, Kay

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  3. My mother always worked and I know that she would’ve rather been able to spend more time with us. In the end, I learned the value of having a strong work ethic and not having to rely on another person for my support.

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  4. The fact that you want to put on that costume is enough yeah ? It reflects your desire to be an ideal mother. But circumstances and reality did not give you that costume … you’ve done the same thing wearing a different costume .. and looks like you got it right.

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  5. Motherhood is the hardest job ever! The job description is different for every mother out there, and with no training manual, we all do the best we know how. This post is inspirational to me, I’ll have to save the link! Lovely post, thank you for sharing! ~Lanah

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