I named my five year-old son Holt. It wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to name him Rocco. My daughter’s name is Rowan. I wanted my son to have a name that started with the letter ‘R,’ like my daughter and I, making us much like (I know! I know!) the Kardashian clan. I liked the idea of all of us sharing the same first initial. Unfortunately, my daughter, who was almost ten when my son was born, had already called dibs on the name Rocco for her future son, and had also named one of her thousands of plastic babies Rocco. She was so adamant it was HER name, that I didn’t want to fight over it.
Unlike me, my daughter has always voiced how much she wants to be a mother. From a very young age, she already knew she wanted twins (one boy and one girl) and later would adopt at least two other children. She adores playing and entertaining babies. And, I’ll give her this, she is great with babies and young children.
Last week, my daughter, who is 14, invited her best friend over for dinner. As we ate, we talked about their futures, or at least a big part of their future: Motherhood. ‘My mom says I can’t have a baby until I’m at least 29,’ my daughter announced. This is true. Every time my daughter mentions becoming a mother, she gets a lecture from me about the importance of establishing a career first.
‘I’m going to have a baby when I’m 26,’ her friend said. ‘I want five babies, so I have to start early,’ to which I responded, ‘FIVE babies?!” as I shook my head. Again, I gave the spiel about how they should go onto university, then establish a career, before having babies. They both looked at me like one does when hearing platitudes. Both were adamant about becoming mothers, at an exact age, and also knew how many children they want, along with names. Sigh. In my head, I couldn’t help but question why these girls, both blessed with good educations, and still so young, couldn’t talk about anything else but becoming mothers.
I have no idea what it’s like to be a stay-at-home-mother. In fact, even though here in Canada we have a one year maternity leave, I was back to work three months after giving birth, mostly because I was bored and didn’t want to lose all I had worked so hard for, for so many years. I do know one thing about being a stay-at-home mother and that is that nothing I have ever done in my career, even writing entire books, can ever compare to how hard it is to be a stay-at-home-mom. And writing books is hard. Very.
After a weekend with my children, I can’t wait to get back to work on Monday. So I have mixed feelings when my daughter and her friends talk so adamantly about becoming mothers, especially when my daughter literally barters with me over what age she can have her first child. She wants to be 26. I want her to be at least 29. My daughter will even roll her eyes when I say, over and over, that she needs a career first and can’t have a baby until she’s 29. (She’s still too young to understand that I can’t control what she does when she’s an adult!)
I’ve spent most of my parenting life trying to show my daughter that she really could be anything she wants. The world is her oyster. Because she is good at science and math, loves all animals and adrenaline ski racing, is a great debater, and, yes, loves babies, I’m always saying she should either be a doctor or vet, or some sort of physical therapist, or lawyer, diplomat, even Prime Minister.
Her father and I have constantly worked hard to give her the best when it comes to her education. We are constantly making sure she’s keeping up with her homework and getting good grades. But, am I raising a possible stay-at-home mother?
When I was my daughter’s age, I never even thought of becoming a mother. In fact, I was anti-motherhood. So, I can’t help but ask why her father and I are shelling out so much money for school and tutors and experiences that will look good on resumes for Universities, if all she wants is to become a stay-at-home-mom? Why am I constantly telling her that she absolutely needs to have a career first? Why am I constantly working so hard to show her that when you work hard, have career ambitions, that you can rule the world (and make money?)
My daughter already knows how many babies she wants and their names.
I loved this recent piece called What It’s Like To Be A Stay-At-Home Mom, mostly because it was written this year, by a modern mother, who writes, ‘You see, I haven’t always been a stay-at-home mom. Many eons ago, I was employed outside the home…Every morning, I would look out the window of my office, and see moms walking through the neighbourhood pushing babies in strollers. In the afternoon, I’d see them sitting out in their driveway peacefully, while their children happily rode bikes in the street. I somehow caught wind of the fact that there was a group of them in the neighbourhood who would gather each day at 4pm and watch Oprah together. I thought to myself, sign me up for this gig.’
She writes about the positives of being a stay-at-home mother. She’s thankful she doesn’t have to tell her children goodbye every morning while she goes off to work. She never misses class parties or field trips. She doesn’t stress out when one of her children is sick.
But she also writes about the stresses. ‘You’ve got these little people with you, ON you, around you, all over you, ALL day, so someone please explain how you’re ALSO supposed to do the laundry, AND the dishes, AND the cooking, AND the bill paying, and the Buying of The Food. And did you know? These kids! They expect to be played with AND comforted AND disciplined AND helped with their homework in the midst of all of that?’
She’s not complaining. It seems she’s just venting a little. She goes on to say, ‘I love that I can scoop each of them up any time I want, at any moment in any day, and give them as many hugs and kisses as they will allow. I love watching them grow and change, moment by moment. I love that there is nothing big that has ever happened to them, that I wasn’t there to witness.’ Basically, she loves being a stay-at-home mother.
And good on her. And good on every other mother out there who wants and is lucky enough – because let’s be honest, most households these days need two incomes – to be a stay-at-home-mother because they CHOOSE to be. I’ve watched some of my best friends be stay-at-home mothers and I just am in…awe. I’ll be honest when I say that I just don’t have, and have never had it in me to be a stay-at-home-mom, so for those or are, and want to be, I can’t help but think, ‘What gene am I missing here?’ Obviously, it’s a gene that my daughter has inherited from somewhere, even though she sees me constantly working.
All I’ve ever wanted is to show my daughter that having a career is so incredibly important. Not only because it gives me a sense of accomplishment, work-wise, but, also, I’m trying to show her how important it is not to rely on anyone else for money. Also, I hate to say this, but I’ve seen with my own eyes that some stay-at-home-mothers (not all, by any means) are lost when their kids leave the nest, and then end up just waiting for their children to have their own children.
Now I’m wondering, so what if she chooses to be a stay-at-home mother? Obviously I can’t control what my daughter does when she’s an adult. And if she wants to be a stay-at-home mother, there will be nothing I can do about it. And if that’s really what’s going to make her happy, who am I to argue with that?
All I can really do is make her aware that being a stay-at-home mother is probably the hardest job in the world. Maybe that’s what I should be teaching her, first and foremost.
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