Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Being who you are is not a disorder

I read this line in Mary Karr's memoir Lit, but it is originally from Franz Wright's Pediatric Suicide.  This line resonates with me.  While most of the time I have what I think is a very strong sense of self and high esteem, there are times when I feel very uncertain of myself.

Right now, I've got a couple things going on in which I am planning activities....making phone calls, sending in paperwork, selecting options. And I am having to touch base with folks to keep them apprised as well as ask for their input.  Because I stay-at-home with the kids, I am able to do this on and off throughout the day---shoot people emails, research stuff online, make phone calls.

On highly productive days (and by this I mean when both boys nap), I am a whirlwind of activity and accomplishment.  But I find myself almost apologizing for my productivity.  I find that the people with whom I'm dealing, who work full-time outside the home and have kids, seem mostly annoyed with what I am doing.  When I call to update them or get their opinions, I seem to get this tone of "I work a REAL JOB and don't have time to dither with your little 'projects,' Carrie."

And yes, they are projects.....for the kids, mostly, but for other folks as well.  They are extras.  Doing them doesn't put food on the table or money in the bank.  I get that. (Which is why I primarily send emails so that I'm not interrupting people's real lives.)

But that is why I stay home.  So I have time to do all the things that make life immensely better for most people.  I mean, if everyone who volunteers stopped volunteering the world would be a far suckier place.  School volunteers and Girl Scout volunteers and library volunteers and Meals on Wheels volunteers???

I hate feeling apologetic for doing what I do.  Because it does matter.  And it is important.  And I do what I do very well.  I am "on it," just as I was when I worked full-time outside the home and was what was considered in economic statistics to be a "legitimate" contributor to society.

Maybe my persistence in getting things done, checking things off my list, staying on top of things, reminds me somehow of when I was a kid and a neighbor's granddaughter said she would teach me how to do a backbend.  She told me if I did it, she would give me a prize.  So I kept working on it, but I also kept asking over and over again if she was really going to get me a prize.  (I see this same OCD persistence in G, who seems to get on a loop of thought and cannot let it go.)

In the end, she didn't get me a prize because she said I bugged her too much about it.  At almost 40 years old, I still carry this around with me and am reminded of it at times like these, when I feel I am being annoying to others.  Not because I am intentionally trying to bug them.  But because I am being who I am.

I need a refreshing jolt of "They are just jealous" to heave myself out of this low self-esteem moment.  


Kelsey said...

They are jealous! I mean not everyone wants to stay at home, but I think there are plenty of full-time working folks who would like to be doing what you're doing.

Keri said...

I think there is an element of jealousy in much of the negativity aimed at stay-at-home moms, so allow yourself to use that fact to comfort yourself. There's a lot of truth in it.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I am so grateful for stay at home moms who volunteer to do so many things in my classroom. My job is easier because of them - I'm sure your kiddos' teachers feel the same way.