I never expected mothering to be easy. If anything, I thought mothering would be all consuming, something that could very well swallow me up. This is primarily because I have one of those martyr mothers. Those, “don’t you know what I’ve given up for you mothers.” Regardless, I lived to babysit as a teenager and couldn’t wait to have my own family. I also wanted to have four children by the time I was thirty without considering of course what that actually meant, like I’d be pregnant or nursing for eight straight years. So here I am. 30. Weaning my fourth child. And what is wild about it is that I planned none of it.
At 22, I unexpectantly became pregnant my last semester in college. Now, as an addiction counselor, I have worked with clients that have had children much younger than that. So I get that 22 isn’t really that young. However, I was shocked. What happened? I was/am scarred to death of the warnings on the product labels for oral contraceptives so have never taken any of them. I have been proud of myself several times for actually getting the courage to ask for and hold in my hand the prescription for a birth control pill and ironically found an entire months supply in my cabinet this week from three years ago; The only time I ever got a prescription filled. I read somewhere once that the rhythm method, when used accurately, is 98% effective. So, my rationale has been why take something foreign, that must disrupt more than just contraception, for an extra 1 %? Not worth the risks. I was pregnant and horrified. I went into hiding for a week or so. My plans to move to Europe after graduation were ruined. This meant I had to stay in Minnesota. Get a boring 40-hour a week job and freeze for the next 30 years until I could retire somewhere warm.
Fast-forward seven years and I am like most mothers; working outside of the home or not. I am a successful juggler. A magnificent multitasker. To keep my sanity, my spirit as a “helper”, and to stay intellectually stimulated, I need to work. And ultimately, I am absolutely passionate about working in the field of addiction. Now, addiction counselors do not bring in the megabucks unless maybe you work on A & E, or sell some books (working on the latter). In order for me to not actually pay to go to work (daycare for 4 children is pretty spendy), I had to be creative. I have always had a few jobs. I currently work as a consultant for two companies and recently started my own company called Unhooked, LLC. Along with consulting work, I do interventions/family meetings for those struggling with drugs, alcohol, or eating disorders. I started my own company to provide services families can afford with flexibility for mine. I am mostly a mother, but not only a mother.
Now being a mother, a “working mother” also comes with some frustration & chaos at times. How is it that we are in the 21st century where 65% of mother’s with small children work and I have to pump in a bathroom at conferences and get scolded for asking refrigerator for my office at work last minute (shouldn’t HR asked ME what I needed when I get back from maternity leave?). I also find it confusing why our standard for ourselves and other women are unreasonable. I was just at a parent/child open-gym with my kids last week where one mom was on the phone the entire time talking to a friend, trying to console her and give her advice, while her own daughter was begging for her attention. Another mom was clearly frustrated and looked me straight in the face and said, “I don’t know how most moms are not alcoholic”. We do too much. Why do we criticize other women, their choices as a mother? Overall, I can say, men do not talk about how other dads raise their children, keep their homes, or what they are wearing. We need to give ourselves some slack. I know I do when I find bottles in my shower, cheerios in my contact case, and toy cars in the dishwasher and I smile…