At church a few weeks ago they handed out a flyer for a women’s meeting, where we would learn to make homemade freezer jam, as the first in a series of classes on how to be a more effective homemaker. Now, I like that kind of thing. In theory, because I like to cook, but hate to clean, and I rarely have the kind of time I need to do the cooking I’d like to do. But anyway, I’m sitting there staring at this flyer thinking I might want to do this.
Then I started thinking…oh yeah, but what happens when it comes up that technically…you’re not a homemaker. You work. You’re going on a business trip in a few weeks even, and you’ll have to explain your absence. Then you’ll have to tell them what you do. And if there wasn’t judgment for the working, when they find out you write books filled with naked Italian men and sex on the beach, you may just end up being shunned!
My friends, I didn’t go.
Would any of that have happened? I don’t know. I don’t know why, in my mind, when I consider getting plugged into things like that, the nice, friendly women in my church suddenly morph (in my mind’s eye) into starched collared ladies in ankle length skirts saying words like decorum and propriety. (not that there’s anything wrong with ankle length skirts!)
My fears of being judged don’t really come from things that have been directed at me. It’s more a fear of being judged in a hypothetical sense. It is, however, to an extent, based on conversations had with people pre my ‘career woman’ days, and from blog posts that show up in my Facebook feed, posted by friends.
The thing is, I know judgment comes from the working mom, and the stay at home mom. I’ve been both. I’ve felt that sting of inadequacy when I was a homemaker and nothing else. Felt that little burn when someone would say “I’m doing it all.” and I would be exhausted thinking, “and I’m not!?” It would get even worse when I saw that there were people who always had clean houses, and homemade dinners. I didn’t manage it even when my sole focus was my household. Being a homemaker is awfully depressing when you, frankly, aren’t that good at it.
Then writing came along. I personally am happier with a job. I’m good at my job. I get it done. In terms of what I do professionally, I’ve always been quite happy with how I manage my commitments. Yet again, the inadequacy creeps in with my personal life.
I have a friend who is always posting links to a blog that talks about making a home being a woman’s highest and most fulfilling purpose. And I of COURSE click on the link to read EVERY post and grind my teeth and get all defensive (as you do). And I dismiss it, because while it might be some people’s highest purpose, is clearly isn’t mine. *hmphs*
Only then I see pictures of the bread someone baked and the jam they made, probably because they WENT to that class, and I wonder: Am I doing enough? Am I blowing this because I’ve got a job and I’m not focusing 100% of my attention on my kids? No, in fact a good percentage of my brain is on that afore mentioned naked Italian. And I like going on business trips. And I like when writing gives me an excuse to blow of making dinner.
Heck, no wonder other people will judge me. *I* judge me. I was asked at my first conference how old my daughter was, and when I told the person they said “Oh, I NEVER could have left when mine was that little.” And I’m sure it wasn’t meant to seem like a jab, but all I could think was WELL WHY COULD I? What’s wrong with me?
Actually, I think I judge me more than other people do. I think I’m so afraid of judgment, and heap it on myself so darn much, because I’m afraid of someone external VALIDATING the internal thrashing I give myself on a semi-regular basis. And then I think back on the days when I was a stay at home mom (yeah, I still stay home, but I LOCK myself in my office) and think about how I judged myself then. How I felt like I didn’t *do* enough. How I wasn’t doing it all. How the answer wasn’t really there.
I’m still not doing it all. I’m doing as much as I can. And I think the judgment, whether from me or others, real or made up in my mind to give myself something to angst about, is so completely unhelpful.
I do believe every one of us has a purpose. But none of us has the exact same purpose, not really. And we can’t live someone else’s life. No one loves my kids more than I do. No one wants them to have the best more than I do, so knowing that, I guess I have to put the shame-game away and realize that even if someone DOES judge me, it doesn’t matter. My husband supports me, my children are happy. They don’t know from having me make homemade jam. (I am, for the record, not vilifying homemade jam. I like homemade jam. If you make it…send me some.)
BUT what they do have is a happy mom who is following her dream, and hopefully showing them that anything in life is possible is you persevere and work hard. I’m sure I make mistakes. I’m sure I sometimes spend too much time in my fictional world. But hey, we all make mistakes, right? (please say yes…) Life would be easier if we embraced that. If we walked with confidence in how we lived and didn’t worry about what other people thought. If we didn’t feel compelled to put ourselves down.
I’ll have to work on that and let you know how that goes. In the mean time…Jam? Please?
Maisey Yates is a USA Today Bestselling author of sexy, angsty, funny romances and a terrible housekeeper. When she’s not writing books, you can find her reading them. If you CAN find her beneath the massive pile of unfolded laundry. Maisey has three kids (5, 4, & 2) one husband (who is a much better housekeeper than she is) and not a single dull moment. You can find her on twitter, Facebook and her website.