What We Talk About, When We Talk About Motherhood

I’m going into business for myself…I’m getting married tomorrow…It’s gonna be all right. I’m gonna settle down. I’m through with the newspaper business.
-Hildy Johnson, His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday is more than just the title of my blog, it’s also a great, classic movie starring two of my favorites, Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. (More on why my blog is named after this film, here.) But we also share more than a name; my blog and this film also offer fast paced dialogue, sharp wit and a love for journalism. Well,  at least I like to think they have all that in common…

But more than the humor, I love Russell’s character, Hildy, and the surprisingly modern dilemma she faces:

And that my friends, is my farewell to the newspaper game. I’m gonna be a woman, not a news-getting machine. I’m gonna have babies and take care of them. Give ’em cod liver oil and watch their teeth grow.

If you are like me, or have talked to any woman who is both mom, wife and employee along with a host of other identities, then you know what I’m talking about. If not well, stick with me kid; hopefully I’ll make sense of myself by the end of this.

Nearly every mom I’ve ever talked to in the past three years since I’ve become a mom has shared a similarly struggle, namely, do I work or stay at home with my kids. Whats more, this issues is made even more complicated by the million shades of “working mom” or “stay at home mom” that exist today. You can be a stay at home mom. A stay at home working mom. A full time working mom (duh, all of us). A part time working (outside of the home) mom. Etc., etc. On top of all these options, you have everyone and their brother’s opinions of working, motherhood and life in general. Oh. My. Word. Someone just make it all stop, please.

In His Girl Friday, Hildy knows just what I’m talking about. She loves journalism, but she also wants a life beyond work-a family, a home, and a new way to look at the world.

For me, motherhood has been hard and complicated and, more importantly, ever evolving. But really, that doesn’t make me unique, that just makes me a mom. We all face these same issues, but with so many option as to how we can respond to these issues, we end up creating our own special blend of choices to address our personal, professional and relational needs. As a result, “motherhood” looks slightly different for, well, almost every mom I’ve talked to. Ever

While I don’t think it’s bad that we have all these choices available to us, I do think it makes the motherhood journey fraught with hard decisions, doubt, and yes – guilt.

But here is the thing. Although our lifestyle choices might be different, which in turn means our day to day might look different, the fact still remains that we all still face the same hard questions. We all still struggle with doubt over the decisions we made/make. We all still face an overwhelming host of negative opinions and criticism from “friends,” family and media.

What I’m saying isn’t new. I currently face the same dilemma that Hildy faced, and His Girl Friday is 74 years old! But, I think we could all use a reminder that we are all in the same boat.

I mentioned before that for me, motherhood has been a journey that has included many different paths. I’ve stayed home exclusively. I’ve worked from home. I’ve worked part-time outside of the home. And now, I do a combination of all of those. Sound confusing? Yea, I guess it is, but Ive learned to embrace the confusion and the change.

I’ve also learned to not look at other moms’ choices and journey and use them to judge my own decisions. I’ve tried that, and the result is catastrophic. Because everyone’s choices range from somewhat similar to completely different, you will always, always find someone doing something different than you as a mom. If you choose to use those differences as a way to evaluate what you are doing, than you are certainly on the road to a complete break down.The good news, though, is that it is a choice.

As moms, we have a choice as to how we are going to interact with each other. Are we going to use our differences to judge, guilt and doubt, both ourselves and others? Or are we going to see these differences as a gateway into each other’s unique lives, and allow us to know each other on a more intimate, truer level? Because, once we get past the differences,all thats left are the fundamental things that make us similar. Let’s connect on that more often.

4 thoughts on “What We Talk About, When We Talk About Motherhood

  1. So true, each woman and mom have decisions and struggle with balancing the career and motherhood paths. It’s a different journey for each person. I think any mom has chosen the right path, no matter the situation, when they have children that smile, giggle and love life & God!

  2. I’m no mom, but I am a dad and ladies who are moms let me say this, us dads appreciate all your hard work no matter what it looks like. Thank you!

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