A few weeks ago, my daughter had a career day at school. When I asked her what she wanted to be, I was only half listening, since in my head I was trying to figure out what dress up we could repurpose as “Doctor” or “President” or “Nobel Peace Prize Winner”.
“A MOMMY!” she shouted.
I have been a stay-at-home-mom for 6 years now. I wipe tushies and noses and hands. I do laundry, then some more laundry, then do all the laundry again. I take kids to ballet and swim and doctor’s appointments and baby signs and birthday parties. I cut coupons and make lists and menu plans and 12 trips to the grocery store and then still end up serving tacos and spaghetti two nights a week.
I wear a lot of yoga pants.
“Oh,” I said. “A mommy,” I said. “But wouldn’t you like to be something else AND a mommy?? You don’t have to be JUST a mommy.”
I flinched when I said it. The words floated out of my mouth and hung right in front of my face where I thought about how it was a stupid thing to say. I know better.
Being a mom isn’t just keeping children alive – although some days that is all I seem to manage. We can’t just feed and clothe them, we have to raise them up and impart everything we know into their empty heads. We are turning small squishy lumps of need into tiny humans who then turn into actual real humans and grow up to be, well, everything. We teach patience because one day they’ll need it while discovering the gene that cures cancer. We teach kindness because one day they might build hospitals for villages in need. We teach the alphabet so they can write the great American novel. We clean up a zillion finger paint messes so they can become great artists. Someone right now is wiping the butt of a future president.
I want Caroline to know that she has the option to be whatever she wants when she grows up, especially right now when she’s capable of dreaming about future careers without worrying about their practicality. I remember telling my mother I was going to be a ballerina marine biologist and her saying “That is a great idea”. I want her to find a passion and explore it and love it and then change her mind. I want her to change her mind a million and one times before she actually finds a career. I want her to reach for the stars…or the bottom of the sea…or the top of a mountain…or wherever it is that super successful and happy people reach. Because as cliche as it sounds, I only want her to be happy.
I don’t want anyone to ever tell my daughter she HAS to be a mother or that she can ONLY be a mother, but if she wants to be a mother – even if she wants to be JUST a mommy – then I would be very, very proud of her.
When she came home from career day, I asked her what her friends dressed up as. “Logan was a motorcycle guy!” she explained, “And all the girls were princesses!”
So maybe Mommy is a bold choice for a 4 year old after all.
And hey, I must make being a mommy look like a lot of fun if it’s something she’s looking forward to. Although it might just be because she wants to be the boss.