I spent the weekend at a dance convention with my daughter. It took place in a hotel where we were staying, and was set up so that the hand’s on necessity of moms was minimal. As a writing mom, this was a heavenly situation. I could take her to a thing where she could develop her talents, and have lots of uninterrupted time to do some serious revision.
I set up Saturday morning in a small cafe off of the lobby, plugged in my headphones and got to work (there’s no way I could stay in the hotel room – TV temptation is too strong in those kinds of situations for me). After about 20 minutes, a woman took a seat a couple tables away. She was soon joined by another and another, and it became clear that these women had dance mom affiliation. Every once in a while, I would overhear their conversation.
“But the mall doesn’t open for another half hour.”
“Do you think we can spend the whole time in one mall?”
“Well, if we add in lunch, I think we can stretch it until we need to get back.”
I dismissed them and kept working. After all, I had a whole novel I was restructuring. But then they sat there for another hour, talking about apps they liked on the phone, checking what time stores opened, and asking each other if they thought they’d like to shop there too. One finally said, “I’d like to see that store but I don’t want to go alone.”
There were a group of beautiful women who clearly cared about their daughters and their daughters’ abilities, dreams, ambitions and goals, who didn’t know how to spend their time if it didn’t mean:
A. They weren’t doing something with/for their daughters.
B. They didn’t want/know how to do anything ALONE.
I don’t know anything about these women except what I saw and occasionally overheard. For me, having a total of 10 hours over two days when I could pursue my passions without any mom-guilt was a blessing. For so many, it was a complication. Even worse, a weekend wasted in waiting.
Raising children is ABSOLUTELY a noble thing. Caring for those who we have stewardship over is a valued necessity. But I can’t help but feel sorrow for people who have so invested themselves into the well-being of their children that they no longer know what to do when their children don’t need them – for however long the time.
Secondly, why is being alone BAD? Perhaps they looked across the cafe at me and felt the same sorrow – that I didn’t have people to show pictures to, to share my ideas with, to go shopping with. Maybe they are extroverts and that sitting around and socializing was just what they wanted and needed. But that a woman wanted to go look at a store, had a car to get to the store, and didn’t want to go alone is still with me.
I recently wrote a blog post about success in solitude, so obviously this idea has been on my mind. But as someone who has a husband that encourage me to chase my dreams, to do the things I want, as someone who is raising three children to be individuals because they want to, because the things they are working on make them happy, because that is where their interests lie, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the woman who didn’t feel like she could go to a shop alone.
At my job, we help college students with a required project, encouraging them to resist the temptation to complete the project in something affiliated with their major. These college students have the tendency to think always and only about their major, and fail to hone skills that make them interesting and diverse. In talking with them, I often say, “You have a major, you are NOT your major.”
Moms are moms because they are caring for someone who needs care. I am a mom, but I am not only mom. I am Tasha, I am creative, I am hardworking, I am made up of so many entities that help me when I am being a mom, but that also help me when I am writing, and when I am chatting with my husband as his wife, and when I’m discussing life with a friend. I have passions that allow me to feel complete and full, thereby allowing me to give to my children. What I want to do and what I need to do FOR MY OWN WELL-BEING don’t always align with what others want to do and need to do to align with their own well-being.
There are absolutely times when moms must sacrifice. But if that sacrifice becomes too commonplace, we risk a whole group of women who no longer have the courage to be who they want. And our children need strong women who know what we want if we are ever going to have a chance at raising them to pursue what they want.