My therapist has said, and my sister has said, and the Internet has said, that becoming a mom can bring up Issues related to your own mom. Now, I am my dad all over, and so unlike my mom that while I was pregnant, I wasn’t really worried about turning into her, or into the worst of her at any rate. But now that baby is here, I’m finding that maybe my therapist and my sister and the Internet were onto something. It’s not coming out directly. It’s not like what I pictured. But it is happening. I am very, very afraid that I am turning into my mom.
My mom was a SAHM. There is nothing in this world wrong with being a SAHM. It’s a valid and legitimate choice for some women and some families. I’m pretty sure I’m not one of those women, but it’s hard to say, because being a SAHM feeds right into that fear of being like my mom, and the very thought of it makes me want to run as fast and far away as I can. Since moving to New City for my husband’s job, I have been looking for a job of my own. And this fear has me considering a job that I’m not sure is a good fit, just to avoid not working.
I know that this is f***ed, because like I said, being a SAHM is totally a legitimate choice, but there’s this feeling that if I don’t work, I won’t matter. I guess that maybe it’s the way my dad treated my mom like she didn’t matter, and the way us kids (in the manner of kids everywhere) followed suit and treated her like she didn’t matter. Or because she treated herself like she didn’t matter. Or something else.
When I write it out it starts to seem crazy and all kinds of wrong to say that if I don’t work I don’t matter. Of course SAHMs matter! Everyone matters! Our worth isn’t contingent on our jobs or how much we make. And yet, as I consider the options of whether to take a job that feels wrong, or to risk not having a job a little longer, to risk slipping into being a SAHM, at least for a while, well, part of my fear is this question…if I’m not working, do I still matter?
But it’s more than that, too. It comes up all the time. Now that I have a kid, is it all about her? She’s certainly all anyone wants to talk about. How do I rank my desires and needs vs hers? Now that I’m a mom, am I still a person? Do I still matter? This question is right there in the middle of my bad feelings and confusion about being a mom.
I don’t yet know what I’ll do about the job thing. I don’t yet know how to balance all of this out. I do know that SAHMs matter. I do know that I ought to matter too, whether or not I go back to work, even if I’m not sure how that feels or how to wear it or how to claim it any more.