The kids were gone for a few hours, and when they finally returned, their smiles were bright, and their cheeks were glowing... from both the sun and the massive ice cream cones they'd eaten. And I'd missed it.
When you are a mom of little kids, you can choose to stay home all day for no particular reason. You can cancel plans and play on the floor all day. Now, keeping my son home for a lazy day would be an unexcused absence.
Full-time moms are so hungry for economic independence that many of them are willing to take on any challenging job they can encounter. The problem is that society is still taking baby steps on this topic, either not offering mothers a chance, or giving them inadequate options.
In my 16 years of being a stay-at-home-mom, I've had my share of tough days. It's not easy to be the primary caregiver of three kids. Especially with a husband who starts his long commute into NYC around 7 each morning and usually doesn't get home till past 9 each night.
"I work from home" provides no information. "Nothing," while tempting, belies the truth. "I work for my husband," makes me feel like I've set the feminist movement back 60 years and I'm riding shotgun with Betty Draper.
Your gender does not define you. Neither does your job or car or bank account. Be kind and brave, be a good friend and a hard worker and treat everyone with respect -- those are the qualities that will define you.
I love my husband dearly. I'd marry him again if I could. Sometimes I wonder how we even found each other in this crazy, mixed-up world. In fact, I'd make a list of all the things he is doing right, but it would be too long and too gushy and I'd lose my street cred.
My husband and I are a team for many reasons, but primarily so that the children can't outnumber us. You want to get drinks and talk about your cheating arse of a boyfriend? Great! Grab a sippy cup and use your big words so the children won't understand you.
Hiring someone whose work history has a five-year or more dark spot may feel like a mighty risky thing for you to do. I'm here, as an undesignated SAHM spokesperson, to tell you that you should take that risk. Your company needs her. You need her savvy and her flair.
I fear I sold my daughters a bill of goods by telling them that they could "have it all." As I wish them a Happy Mother's Day, I hope the gains women have made since my own mother was deprived of a college education will make them happy as well as accomplished mothers.
This Mother's Day, we can all do three things that will bolster mom's value and support gender equality. We can stop making throwaway negative comments about mothers. We can acknowledge that mothers do real work, and we can value that work more highly.
Downshifting is a perfectly valid choice when you feel you also have the option not to take it; when you have all the information you need in order to make an empowered decision; when you have been given (or have earned) the tools to really choose.
What will help revolutionize our lives is learning to listen to each other. To help each other. To understand that while every parent is in a different situation, we're all struggling to do the best thing for our kids, our families and ourselves.