Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cookie cutter moms

It's about 5 degrees outside.  My mom is probably making a hot soup or stew from scratch for tonight, and everyone will gather around the dinner table and fill up by lamplight.  It will be cold and windy and snowy outside, but warm at home.

My life is not like this, by my choice.  I am at work this cold night, till tomorrow afternoon at 4 pm.  Josh is with my in-laws, and Rob is planning on playing basketball with the guys from the firehouse.   Yes, I could be a stay-at-home mom...we can afford it, if we really wanted too...I could make chicken broth from scratch and serve a lovely homemade dinner to my husband on these cold nights.  I could make a warm, comfortable, home-centered life, enjoying my son every day, making a wonderful home for my husband.  We could spend a lot less money if I really put my mind to cooking and shopping and meal preparation.  We could sit at home and play games with friends even the evening and our life could center on our home and our family.

It doesn't.
And it won't.

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for a family.  We are not all the same.  If day care and public schooling and a 2-career lifestyle is what works best for my family, there is nothing wrong with that.  If Mom staying at home and caring for home and family and homeschooling is what works best for a particular family's needs, then there is nothing wrong with that, either.

What we as moms need to let go of is believing that there is only one way to have a good family.  That there is only one right way.  There is no formula that produces a perfect family or well-adjusted, loving children.  There is no recipe that produces a good marriage.  Every family is different.  Every relationship is different.  What we need to do, instead, is recognize that what works for one mother may not work for another, and what one child needs is not what another child needs.  We need to be flexible, adaptable, and willing to step out of our box to try something new. 

For my family, we very quickly came to the conclusion that Mom staying home was not going to be a good thing.  Instead, for us, Josh going to day care two days a week, Mom working 36 hours a week, and staying flexible as far as future schooling goes is what we need.  It may not be what your family needs, and that's a good thing.  We're not asked to be the same; we are only asked to raise our children to be loving, independent adults.