Monday, July 16, 2012

What Makes Your Life "Worth It"?

And for that matter, what makes YOU worth it?

What makes you "successful"? What ambitions are worth your time, money and devotion?

If you don't have material possessions, or a Ph.D, or a flashy job, was it a waste of your time?

Considering what I'm seeing from ... well, mostly the MEN that I've dated (which is just.. fucking messed up) but even a lot of women that I associate with.. if you haven't gone to college to get a degree for something that will make you a lot of money... if you aren't working at least a 9-5 office job... if you aren't driving a nice car and have a pretty lawn and a boyfriend or a husband.. if you can't put your kids in the best (or any) dance classes, soccer teams, etc...

Well, then what the hell are you doing with your life?  Apparently nothing worthwhile.

According to society.

Which would account, I think, for a LOT of the depression among mothers in the world. For the vast neglect of the needs of the small children of those mothers who are made to feel that caring for and being there for their children is NOT ENOUGH. It's not a good enough example (?!?!). If all you're doing is being a mom, then you are a .. failure.

And what if you're a single parent? I think the pressure is even bigger... to "make something of yourself."

Well, trust me, I have hopes and dreams, but have we become so deluded that we believe that raising children (really raising them, I mean YOU, not a nanny or a babysitter or a daycare) is not worth anything? That you are... "nothing"?

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I was 19 years old, shortly to be 20. I knew as soon as the second line appeared that her father would not be involved or helpful.
I had a choice to make, and I made it. I made the choice to be grateful for her existence. To take joy in the experience. To never let it be known that yes, sometimes, kids are a burden. That being a single parent is fucking difficult and sometimes even soul-crushing.
SHE is worth it, and I was bound and determined to make the decision to show her that.
And I've done my best. You know how? Maybe in a different way than some other mothers, and I'm not here to tell you that if you busted your ass to go to college when you had young kids, or that you worked 3 jobs to get by that you were doing something wrong. We ALL have different situations.
But in my situation and my life, the best way I could be there for my baby was to live with my parents for a while, not go back to work until she was old enough to go for a few hours between breastfeeding sessions, and take a part time job close to home where I could actually go home and feed her on my breaks.

From there, when she was 2 and a half, I got a job waitressing, because the hours were flexible, and the money I could make per hour was far better than any full-time desk job I could find. Really.
I had people telling me I was "too talented" to be "slinging pancakes". That I was doing a job beneath me. That I should get an education and reach my potential.
Meanwhile, I was working 5 hours a day and spending the rest of my time nurturing my relationship with my daughter. To its full potential. Learning how to be the best mom I could be to her.
It was worth it.

I won't go over in tedium all the choices I've made over the past 8 years of my life as a mother, but I will say that all of them (as far as work, living arrangements, etc) were made with the best interest of my children and our family unit in mind. ALL of them.
Is that not worthwhile?
Does that make me lazy, unmotivated, unsuccessful?
Because that's what people are telling me.

Men are telling me, they've worked hard to become successful in their careers, in their lives, they make good money and are good at what they do, and they deserve a woman who is just as ambitious.

I want to say....
so here I am saying:

I have worked hard to become a good mom, and I continue to work hard at it every day. It is and always will be the most important thing in my life. ALWAYS. I have other dreams that I strive to work into my life every day. If an opportunity comes up to chase those dreams that won't interfere greatly with my life with my children, or damage our relationship, I take it.
I nurture my love of music both through work opportunities and by doing little things like taking voice lessons when I can, going to karaoke to keep away the stage fright and strengthen my performance abilities...
I keep music around the house constantly and it is something that binds my family, and has for generations.

I am good at what I do. I'm a good singer, I'm a good pianist. I get good jobs because I am a good pianist. I feel happy when I sing. I use my voice to soothe my children, to sing my babies to sleep. I use my hands to wash dishes and clean house and cook healthy meals and apply ointment and bandaids to scrapes and bruises, I exercise and dance alone when I can, and sometimes I dance at home with my kids. I use my arms to hold my kids when they cry and to cuddle them when we have quiet moments together.
I may not be rich or live in a nice house, but I work hard to keep the house I have in order, safe, and comfortable for me and my kiddos. I may not be the best accountant in the world, but I manage to keep my kids clothed and fed, and when I have surplus, I usually use it to take them to do fun things that will be treasured memories for all of us.

I am ambitious. I am successful. I have beaten many odds, I have fought severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc... alone. While raising two kids, alone.
And I have not failed, we are still fighting. We are still together. We are healthy. The kids are happy, smart, safe, and loved.
And as they get older and spend more time out of the nest and out of my care, as older children will do (*sniffle*), I will then spend more time using my hands and my arms and my voice and my body and my ambition and my brain to succeed in other things.

But when I am old and dying and looking back on my life, I know one thing for sure:
I will not regret spending these years being a mom. I will not regret being "unsuccessful" or "not ambitious enough" for the shallow minded men and women of this generation.
I will be glad that I spent the extra hours with my babies while they were babies. I will be glad I saw their first steps, and heard their first words.
I will be glad that even though we struggled financially, constantly, they always knew I was there for them and that somehow, I would find a way to take care of them. No matter what.
I think they will be glad, too. I think they would rather say "my mom was there for me. I have so many good memories with her as a child", than, "my mom had such a great job and a degree, and I only saw her for like an hour a day but she could pay for swimming lessons and dance lessons and soccer camp and expensive clothes and a pretty car".

I think.
I hope.
That is what I believe.

I also believe that in all actuality, a man or woman who doesn't believe that, is not worthy of me, and in fact, is not all that successful in life after all.
I won't be the one with regrets later, even if your comments and insults hurt now....
I will look back and be satisfied that I did the most important job in life that one can do, and did it as well as I possibly could. On my own, no less.
I have screwed up, I do screw up. I make mistakes. I have fallen down and had a helluva time getting up. I have had to ask for help. I still sometimes have no idea what I'm doing, except that I'm doing my BEST.
But any of you out there who haven't screwed up once or twice in your endeavors...? Let me know and I'd love to take a class or two from you.

I am ambitious, I am successful, I am driven. I'm worth it. My kids are worth it.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is great that you remain strong and devote so much of yourself to your children. Even through tough times it seems you have remained selfless and given them all you can. Your kids are lucky to have such a caring mother. You are Wonder woman! :) Thanks for sharing!
    -Kate Godfrey