I recently read a book, “Seductress” that explored women through the ages who defied social and cultural norms. Women who were fierce, bold, and daring. Exactly the opposite of what I feel most days. But, when I really consider my life, it has not been as conventional as I suspected. I may not go through men like water or abandon my children in pursuit of my own wild interests but I have made certain choices over the years that I can look at now and see as bold in their own way.
I have been a stay-at-home mom since my youngest was born almost eighteen years ago. Many of my friends went back to work after the children entered school. Being part of the first generation of “latch-key” children, I knew that once they hit middle and high school, that was when I needed to be home the most. In this economy, it’s a gift that I am able to make this choice. I know this. And I try to let my gratitude win out over my guilt, but it’s a struggle. But it is also a gift that we made room for. Made sacrifices for.
Not only is being one of the few stay-at-home moms within my circle a struggle but so is answering the question “What do you do?” I used to be able to say “I stay at home to raise my girls but I also do graphic design work and I write.” Well, the graphic design work is few and far between these days and claiming that I write leads to the inevitable awkwardness that ensues when asked where can they find my books. And recently, I’ve had people make rather snide comments about stay-at-home moms having too much time on their hands and that’s why they rule the PTA with an iron fist and try to out-Martha-Stewart each other on a regular basis. One was a stranger in a bar and I felt blind-sided and woefully inept at coming up with an appropriate response on the spot like that. The other from a good friend who momentarily forgot that I was one of those moms, minus the PTA and Martha Stewart tendencies.
In the spirit of being bold I am declaring that I am a stay-at-home mom instead of meekly and apologetically admitting it, which I am sad to report, has been my usual MO.
In that same spirit, I am also declaring that I am a writer. I didn’t say author which depends upon publication. I am a writer, a person who writes. A person who must write. John Cheever said, “I think that endeavoring to be a serious writer is quite a dangerous career.” I have been endeavoring just that for over twenty years and I didn’t go the usual route. I did not get an MFA nor even a Bachelor’s degree. Instead, I went to art school, earned an Associate’s, working in that chosen field before realizing that writing is something I needed to do. And I have been doing it ever since, on my own, reading and writing voraciously. Dare I say, fiercely. Going after this dream in my own way, on my own terms. Boldly.