Monday, January 30, 2012

Identity Crisis. Again.

One of my favorite places in the whole wide world.

I recently spent a weekend with a group of alumni from my (increasingly distant) university days.  It's just me and about 30 Ph.D's.  Very bright people.  Nice, too.

Have you ever been in a group like this?  One where everyone is introducing themselves with statements like, "I teach engineering at such-and-such University," and "I'm finishing my dissertation in biophysics," and "I just got back from Hogwart's and next week I am going to Cambodia to study developing economies."  Maybe you used to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a social worker, or an administrative assistant.  Whatever you were before you had kids, have you been in a group of people who still...are?

Then you introduce yourself and say, "I stay home with my children."

I kinda hate myself for this, but I couldn't help feeling less than in that environment, wondering if others were judging me for my choices.  I couldn't help wishing I was still working.  And it's hard.  Harder still because I thought I was so over this.  I mean, it's been five years since I "quit working" (a funny phrase really, as if I don't work my behind off now).

And for a year or so after my son was born I was all "who am I?"  Then I got over it.  Or so I thought, before I was confronted with a bunch of awesome people doing awesome stuff that I miss doing.  Truth is, I have never questioned my decision to become a stay-at-home mom.  Just sort of wish I could do it all.

So, things I am trying to remember:
  • I chose to stay home with my children and consider it a blessing.  It was my family's decision and the right one for us.  And its a blessing many people don't enjoy, so man, do I feel like Whiney McWhinerson just writing this post!
  • Uh...oh yeah, I can't read other people's minds.  No one said I'm stupid for wasting my education, so I gotta stop wondering if that's what people are thinking.  And (more importantly) stop caring.  
  • I can't get these years back with my children, but I can work again someday.
  • I knew what I was doing, and I considered losing career momentum a worthy trade-off for being at home.
  • My success in this endeavor cannot be measured...certainly not in terms of money or position or awards. Perhaps in snuggles? 
I know these things.  But I sure felt that old identity crisis rearing its ugly, judgmental head again that weekend. Maybe next time I find myself in such a situation I'll say, "I keep two people alive every day.  Also teach them to be human."  I do feel pretty good about it, when I put it like that.



  1. I went to school with both of you and you were smarter than J. I promise to tell your kids that mommy had the full scholarship to grad school. So, now it is down on the Internet, recorded forever. It must be true.


    1. I don't know who this J is, but I'm sure whatever he lacked in intelligence he more than made up for in striking good looks and alarmingly pronounced biceps. So also recorded on the Internet for all eternity.

  2. In all your spare time, ha ha, you have to listen to this radio chat about the Proverbs 31 woman.

    Everything you are doing for your children and husband glorifies God and you will be blessed for your work. The series is very very encouraging and I highly recommending taking the time to listen to the whole series, or even read the transcripts!

  3. I am so with you, or have been anyway. I also went to college on a full academic scholarship & sometimes I even feel guilty for wasting other people's money on my education. I've been blessed to find a lot of other stay at home mom friends, which has helped a lot. The nuns at my very tiny women's college had a motto: When you educate a woman, you change the world. Even if all you ever do is raise your children, your education makes you a better mother. And being a mom is the most important job in the world. Seriously. It's the way they are fighting AIDS in Africa, to educate the mothers so they can protect themselves & teach their children. Every good President always talk about the influence his mother had on him & I've never heard a successful person thank their mother by saying how much her success in her career meant to him/her. It's always how much she sacrificed, what traditions they remember, or what great advice she gave. Our legacy won't be written on plaques or published in professional journals anymore, it's measured in kissed booboos and crockpot dinners, but they will remember it forever. :)

  4. Love this! and I hope you don't mind me plagairizing your response..
    Someone: "So what do you do?"
    Me: (with straight face) "I keep two people (husband & son) alive every day. Also teach them to be human".
    I will never feel bad about wasting an education again!

  5. Well, it has been a year and a half for me, and I still have my "who am I?" moments. However, the gender issue doesn't bother me anymore. I happily tell people out and about that I am a stay-at-home dad, but when it is my professional peers I stumble over the term. argh.

    Also if I remember J from the old-days, you are probably keeping three people alive, as well as teaching all three to be human.


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