Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mothers' choices

Thanks to Cathy for inspiring this post.

Only Son is 29 today. When he was born, I was at a time in my life when frankly, I could not afford to raise a child without going back to work. I had just finished LPN school and Only Son's father worked part time at a grocery store. There was absolutely no money to spare before our child's birth, and certainly none afterward.

Of course I wanted to stay home and get to know my son. I did not have that choice. We stuck it out for less than a month, then I went back to work, full time. I hated that I had to do that but we could not pay our bills otherwise. Our mortgage was less than $200 a month so it wasn't like we were living high on the hog. I remember I lost a $20 bill and we had to do without food that week as that $20 was earmarked for food.

As much as Only Son and I love each other, there always has been a distance between us that we both acknowledge and despise, but is there. I wonder if losing some of that bonding time attributed to that distance. One has to do, though, what one must at the time. We needed to eat. So I went to work.

(That was part of the reason Only Son is an Only Son. I swore I'd never have another child unless I could afford to stay home and raise that child myself. That never happened.)

So excuse me if I'm not impressed by Sarah Palin's decision to go back to work when her special needs child was 3 days old. I know she felt she owed it to the people of AK to be their governor, etc, but some things are just not worth it. And now this, chasing after the Holy Grail of VP of the US.

Simply put, there is just some work that is only yours to do. Raising a child you chose to have is one of those, at least taking the time to get to know that child. I think Sarah had the choice of taking at least six weeks to do just that. Many of us did and do not. It is a pity that the party for which she stands advances policies that will force many women into other work besides the work that is theirs to do before they are ready.


FranIAm said...

Oh Laura... there are no words.

Thank you.

Wow, thank you.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Thank you for sharing so honestly. Mothers have such difficult choices, and I can feel your pain over not being able to be the mother you wanted to be

Yes, the Republicans are already cramming Palin's "ideal motherhood" down our throats. I had not heard about her special needs child yet.

Mary Beth said...

I'm so with you! Thank you! It's a very painful decision.

I didn't have kids of my own because I knew I would want to stay home with them for at least the first few years, and I only wanted to have them if my partner were 100% on board with that.

When I met my life partner, he had two kids from previous marriages and was nearly 50. He was NOT up for that merry go round again.

I helped raise the then 9-year-old and feel that I have done my work. I am grateful that I HAD A CHOICE in this matter, which was mine only because of other women (who did NOT have a choice, or good choices) who worked hard ahead of me.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Laura, I think it's natural that, when you sense distance from your child, and you were a working mother, to blame on being a working mother. It's not necessarily the case. It might just be b/c you and he are different personalities.

My mom goes there sometimes. She gets upset that we "are not close like mothers and daughters are supposed to be." She blames it on the fact she had to go right back to work. Really, I think it is just b/c we are way different people. I am more like my late grandmother than my mother, and we all lived across the road from each other and my grandmother and I were more naturally at ease with each other.

I know you can always say "what if". But the fact is, you had to do what you had to do to help feed Only Son, and Only Son can't help but understand that. We all have to do things we have to do and can always say "what if" afterwards, but these were the card we were dealt and this is how we played the hand, and there's no goin' back!

Put your mind at ease, friend. You did the best you could at the time you were doing it. Being an only child myself, I think that mother-child relationship tends to be a little more on the distant side anyway b/c only children are too easily entertained solo!