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I Am Last

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Have you seen those billboards with the tag line "I Am Second"? Well, I think someone ought to design one for moms called "I am Last" because there is a fine line between motherhood and slavery.

Lately I find myself relating to the artificially intelligent character in the movie I, Robot who is struggling to assert his self-identity amongst a race of people who see him as nothing more than an indentured servant. I can also identify with Rosey from the television cartoon The Jetsons, a mechanical maid on wheels, dust rag in hand, cleaning up behind an over-privileged family. I want to be Jane Jetson or Carol Brady, not the help.
This is NOT who I am. Image Credit: Darryl Heine
I am responsible for caring for two little kids, a home, and a husband (did I mention we just moved halfway across the country, upsetting everyone's routines, and are staying in a temporary residence while we feverishly look for a new home?) After a particularly exhausting day of fetching stuff for a high-maintenance toddler while balance a nursing infant on my boob, I started shouting, "I am human being!" I truly feel robbed of my humanity right now, but who took it?

I know I partially to blame because I've always had trouble prioritizing me. After taking care of everyone else and everything else, I am often left without time for myself. This is bad enough without being taken for granted. Articles of clothing are constantly left lying on the floor and items are not put back where they belong because it is assumed that the maid mom will pick it up. I have to consistently remind my toddler that mommy is not her personal valet. I have to be insistent that she clean up after herself otherwise she will try me for the help. Maybe if she saw the other adult in the house picking up after himself she wouldn't act like a scalded cat when I tell her to pick up her toys. I realized awhile ago that a lot of my feelings stem from a devaluation of my contribution a stay-at-home mom. My complaints are often met with the response that it's my job.

Actually, I left the workforce to be a full-time mom although I grudgingly accept that housekeeping comes with the territory. That doesn't mean I wait you on hand and foot. That doesn't mean you don't have to put your dirty socks in the hamper. That doesn't mean I don't deserve a thank you for washing and folding the laundry. I have my hands full with a baby and a toddler and no hired help or even some family nearby to give me some relief, so guess what?! If the dishes don't get done or there is a layer of dust on the mantel, it means that I am couldn't get to it. I feel bad enough about this without being made to feel like I am not mom enough for not having a spotless house. I don't need to be told half-jokingly that the house could be cleaner. I am not a robot, dang it!

I have sacrificed a lot, from my career to my social life. I'll be a monkey's uncle before I give up my dignity too! I am last, and I am aware that I made that choice. I don't plan on on being last in my life forever, just until my babies are old enough to feed, bathe, and clothe themselves. Until then, I would just like some validation for all I do and a little appreciation for how hard I work to put my family first.


12 comments:

Jessica Blankenship said...

Awesome post. I think many of us moms feel like maids. I get the same story "it's your job" but I should also have "ME" time as well.

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keyalus said...

Sigh. I honestly think men are just not aware of how much stuff goes into managing a household. I feel like the division of labor will never be equitable because they don't have a clue. I wish i could say it was easier working outside the home but it isn't. I go to work everyday and still have to do a ridiculous amt of household stuff. And then I come home to paper towels balled up on the counter (inches from the trash) after the One time I cleaned up the kitchen really good? SMH

You are doing a great job under crazy circumstances. Be encouraged...we see you - even if the ones that should don't! :)

bloggingwhilenursing said...

You say it sister! Too many times our loved ones are not aware of the contribution that we make to our homes and our families. Yes, we are last, but that doesn't mean don't treat me like a person.

You do a great job especially when your hands are full. I can totally understand where you're coming from with this.

In my home I understand that I have to "help" pick up after my daughter, but Mr. C, he's old enough to de-clutter his stuff and put things away.

Mary said...

My son was born one day after my birthday. From his 1st birthday, I was too busy worrying about his birthday to plan anything for mine. I had so much fun doing his birthdays though, I didn't care. This was back in the day when Mom baked the cake, and we still had birthday parties in our homes.

themahoganyway said...

I've been there....and find myself there frequently. Many people view the role of SAHM as CEO of the house. I wouldn't like it at all if my husband told me how to do my job. This motherhood gig is hard stuff! I've really had to change my way of thinking lately and that has helped, but our husbands need to realize that when they come home from work they step into another type of work. The house is a shared responsibility and no wife wants to feel like her husband is another child. Parenting young children is all consuming and a short season of life...even though it doesn't seem that way right now.

Maureen Sklaroff said...

Moving is hard, period, much less with a baby and toddler in tow. Then trying to do everything yourself is just too much. I've always felt that when the working spouse gets home, any chores that couldn't be completed while the SAHP is taking care of the kids, should be divided equally. I have to say that my husband, at the age of almost 50, has really come a long way towards helping so much more. It's like when we first got married, I had to do EVERYTHING and he felt that I should kiss his feet for any contribution he made to helping out around the house (I get mad just thinking about those days). I guess it is just us mellowing out as we get older, but I never have to argue with him about doing his fair share anymore. I do know that one thing that helped us was when I read an article that talked about how women would get mad at men for not helping, but that women weren't willing to let men do things their way. The guy mentioned that he was folding laundry and his wife came in and refolded a towel that he just folded. In his mind, she was crazy to refold a perfectly finely folded towel. Anyway, his point was that if we want the men to help, we got to be willing to accept it as they give it. We can't be telling him, "Well, I need you to help fold laundry, but you have to fold it this way." Ironically, at that time, I was always getting on my husband about how he folded towels. So I started trying to accept his help on his terms and I think that encouraged him to help more.

Nubienne said...

You have my sympathy and my encouragement for deciding to be a Stay At Home Mom. I don't know how you do it. As a working mom that didn't have the choice to stay at home, I am always amazed at the moms that stay at home with their babies. Its hard work and I don't know how you do it.

No YOU ARE NOT LAST. One of the lessons I had to learn in my first two years of being a mom, an employee and a full time student was that if I didn't take the time to take care of me, I wouldn't be able to take care of my family. Honestly, if I fall, my whole house would fall. So if the dishes sit for one day, oh well. Laundry piles up? OH WELL. Takeout 2 days running? OH WELL. Remember the world won't end.

If you can, try to arrange at least one hour a day for yourself to take a bath or even sit outside or take a walk so you can regroup and keep your sanity.

You are Valued.
You are Loved.
You are Worthy.
YOU ARE NOT LAST.

YOU ROCK!

You husband may not understand but your children will appreciate your sacrifices down the line...not today or tomorrow..but soon enough.

Be Encouraged!

Emily said...

I laughed out loud at "there is a fine line between motherhood and slavery" - our pediatrician used to say that infants view the caregivers as slaves!

It is important to make time and take time for yourself. It can be hard, but doing that will help you to relax and recharge. I'm sure your husband appreciates all that you do - and your little ones, too.

Great post. I think all moms have felt this way at one time or another.

toi said...

every day that passes i wonder how mothers of more than two kids manage without going mad. i am getting to that point where i have to dash in and out of the shower because my baby is taking a nap and she can wake up any second. it is the same when it comes to blogging.

Help! Mama Remote... said...

Oh how I feel you!!!!!!!!!!!!!oh how I feel you!!!!!!!!!i was talking to my husband the other day about this same thing. I want to feel appreciated.

Quiana said...

It's all about sequencing I've learned - this is temporary and soon enough I'll be off to another phase of life!

Kim said...

Don't they say the best things??? I remember when I was on mat leave with Naveen and would cry from how hard it was and be told "You wanted this." Sigh. You're in a hard place right now but I promise it will get easier. Big hugs from one slave to another.

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