I'm sure you have read the delightful article written by a woman named Amy Glass. If you haven't read it, Google her. Then you can see the myriad of responses to her blog post that she beautifully titled, I look down on young women with husbands and kids and I'm not sorry. I told you, delightful.
I read Amy's post and sat on my opinion for a few days. Was I angered? Yes. Did I think it was absolutely ridiculous and perhaps completely made up as satire? Yes. Then I realized it was a real blog post and I was struck by something else. Twenty years ago I was Amy Glass.
When I was sixteen and seventeen I got it in my mind that I didn't need a man and was never going to need one. I was young and naive. I was still stinging from a broken heart. I did every thing in my power to distance me from love or the idea of it. This included Dickies work pants, wife beater tanks, and short cropped hair ala Winonna Ryder in Reality Bites, and the mouth of a truck driver. Add in the Feminist Ideal and it was a recipe for disaster.
In high school I was convinced that the worst thing that could happen was I would get pregnant and derail my future. In my mind, a baby would crush all my dreams. What a waste to get pregnant and have to spend a lifetime being a mother. I couldn't imagine throwing all my potential down the drain. I saw girls at my school getting knocked up and think, wow her life is over. It was like a death sentence. It's feels really ugly to type that, but I was sixteen and stupid. Back then I thought I knew all the answers. I was a lonely girl, and it caused me such bitterness. You can laugh all you want, but if there was a "Most likely to die alone with her cats", my picture would have accompanied it in my high school year book.
By the time I got to college, there was so much more riding on my shoulders that a baby in my life really would have been a disaster. Then I thought about all of the things I needed to do first, before I settled for a family. How sad that I thought that a family was settling. I wanted to go to New York, I wanted to go to Europe, I wanted to design my own line of clothes, maybe get a job in a big city, and live in a loft. I wanted to work on a magazine or, hell, start my own magazine. Children, a husband, a family life did not enter into that situation one bit. The idea that I would just resign myself over to domesticity was laughable. The Hubbs wrote out a five year plan for a class when we were dating and in it he stated that he wanted his future wife to stay home with the kids. I was equally horrified and intrigued. Did he think it was 1950? And who the hell did he think he was dating?
Even years later, in those first few terrifying months of new motherhood, I'll admit that I looked at my newborn baby, and myself in the mirror and thought "Well this is a fine way to squander a bachelor's degree". Because in my mind, I was just like Amy Glass, motherhood was common, it was average, it was the easiest and most basic thing a woman could do with her life. It took months for me to admit to people that I in fact stayed home with my daughter. I was embarrassed by it. At the time it held little success for me, and it was also so old fashioned. June Cleaver was dead, wasn't she? So why did I work so hard for so long for success, and then settle for common?
You see, I was Amy Glass. I had one steady and infallible truth in my life. Until it was a lie.
I don't feel sorry for Amy Glass. She's a writer, she's a big girl, and according to news sources she is loving the publicity. In a statement she said that the reason her blog post went viral is that there is a kernel of truth to it. She is right, you know, maybe not to you, but to me. Because nothing she wrote in that article isn't anything I haven't said to myself. I felt many of those things she said in that article at some point in my mothering life. Laundry and dishes that never end are just as horrible as they sound. Picking up the same toys over and over on a twenty four hour loop is just as meaningless as it feels.
But I know something that Amy Glass will never know, and that is how it feels to love beyond yourself.
There are zero boundaries in love when you are a mother. You love the entire being of a person, who without hesitation loves you back with the same intensity. And then by association you begin to love yourself in a way you never knew you could. There is something quite comfortable about being a mother who can like who she is with and without her children by her side. Motherhood is living beyond the borders of life, because in motherhood, life is dynamic. Once you are a mother, you are always a mother no matter where your children are. There is nothing common or average about motherhood when it comes to love. Being a wife and a mother, doing laundry and dishes, cooking dinner, playing taxi, sewing costumes at the eleventh hour, are not the successes of motherhood. Love is the success of motherhood. Loving and being loved are the ultimate successes of motherhood.
I may never have the time, energy, or mobility to be exceptional. To do all the things I thought I would. I may never go to Europe and see the Eiffel Tower. I may never go back to school and get my masters. I may never climb Kilimanjaro. I may never ever finish my book. But you better damn believe that I have all the time, energy, and mobility to be an exceptional mother and human in my own right. Because motherhood is my Kilimanjaro. Motherhood is my Eiffel Tower. Motherhood is going to be the great story of my life.
And Amy is right in saying that a stay at home mom will never be on equal footing as a woman who works and takes care of only herself. Because the stay at home mom, the work at home mom, and the working mom, all work and take care of themselves, their household, their children, and a million other people, pets, and every day occurrences. They will forever out work that woman who works and takes care of just themselves. That's not a jab at the single woman, that is just mathmatically the truth. Because for every blog post that Amy writes, I write two, while watching my kids fight over the iPad, while dinner burns in the oven, while the laundry sits in the dryer another day. For every dinner out that Amy has, I have one of leftovers and dry cereal. For every single moment of solitude Amy has, I have none, because my tribe surrounds me. Amy Glass and I will never be on equal footing, and I'm sure that scares the shit out of her.
I am no longer bitter or cynical about love and motherhood. I am no longer embarrassed that I have a bachelors and chose to do this. You could say I'm now working on my masters in motherhood. Motherhood has given me a better understanding of myself. Motherhood has given me a better understanding of success. Motherhood has given me an exceptional life, that I have all the time, energy, freedom, and mobility to enjoy. My freedoms and mobility may not look like Amy's, but they are mine. She can have hers. I'm good with that. Amy will never know the exceptionality that I know, and it sounds like she is pretty secure in that.
Because I used to be Amy Glass. I held so tightly to one truth. Until it became a lie.