Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles written by stay-at-home moms and “mommy bloggers,” exploring what it is to be those things. Struggling with what it is to be those things. Not liking how the world views what it is to be those things. And defending what it is to be those things. I guess since many of us now find ourselves with our children comfortably back in school, that insane need to answer the loaded question “what do you do all day?” has made some of us feel the need to champion for ourselves.
But as for me, I don’t care to tell anyone what I do all day. Because I don’t owe anyone an explanation of what I do, or why I decided to give up my career to stay home. I am aware I appear to be the bright and shiny cliché that cool people like to mock and hipsters would rather die an early death than one day become. I’m not joking. You want to see me on paper? Behold the Cliché with a capital C:
I am a married mother of two children, one girl and one boy. We have a dog named after a beloved literary character. We live in the suburbs. I drive a minivan. I love Starbucks. I occasionally wear yoga pants. I’m the Girl Scout leader for my daughter’s troop. I am on the PTO. I watch Real Housewives. I worship Target. We go to church. I drive my kids to sports-related events at least three times a week. I better my life through Pinterest. I blog about my children. I make my husband do all the gross things like kill bugs and pick up dog poop. I wear an apron when I bake cakes. I’ve borrowed eggs from neighbors. And…this one’s the kicker…I ACTUALLY HAVE A WHITE PICKET FENCE.
Guess what? I’m going to own it, because frankly, I am tired of being defensive about being a cliché. Things become clichéd because lots of people do them. Well, maybe lots of people do them because they’re awesome. So I’m not going to apologize for it anymore. I’m a freakin’ cliché, and I’m fabulous. So is my freakin’ minivan.
I think people, stay-at-home moms in particular, are afraid of others seeing us as this carbon copy of something because then that’s all we are to them. Whatevs. I do what a do and I am what I am. If someone wants to simply see me as a typical Girl Scout leader, teaching my daughter and her friends how to make Swaps or sing about making new friends, and ignore the fact that I’m also coaching her basketball team and making them run suicides, fine. If someone wants to see me as the typical soccer mom in my minivan and ignore the fact that inside that van, my kids and I are rocking out to Circe Link’s “Tiger Swami“ instead of The Lauri Berkner Band, fine. If someone wants to see me as a typical woman who gave up her career and ambitions to stay home and wipe butts, showing her daughter and son that nothing has really changed for women, and ignore the fact that doing so has ended up giving me the chance to pursue a career in writing which I always wanted but was never courageous enough to try before now, fine. If someone wants to see me as a typical suburban chick addicted to Starbucks and ignore the fact that we just got our own espresso machine so we can make fancy coffee at home…wait, that’s kind of the same thing. We just like coffee, okay. I also really like tea. So there.
My point is that I finally realized that getting defensive about how I choose to live my life only signals to others that I’m having my own doubts about it. And I don’t have doubts. I am happy with the choices I have made. I’m going to stop worrying about someone thinking I’m a boring suburban housewife, because I am sometimes. So what? I’m going to stop apologizing for what I am and answering the question, “what do you do?” with “I’m a stay-at-home, BUT I will probably go back to teaching soon now that both kids are in school.” As if somehow adding that disclaimer at the end would keep people from assuming we are rich (why would that be bad?) or that I have no ambition. I know what is true of myself, and so do the people who matter to me. And I’m going to stop caring if someone writes me off as a “vanilla mom blogger,” because sometimes I am, and I happen to consider myself in good company. (Although those people obviously didn’t read my post about how I used to make my Barbies have sex. That at least puts me in the vanilla-chocolate swirl category.)
I don’t think any of this, people seeing me as a cliché, needs to call for outrage. In general, we all get way too outraged about things that just aren’t deserving of the emotion. (In fact, just imagine me saying all these words in my best Matthew McConaughey impression…that’s how non-outragey I am about this whole thing.)
No one needs to care how I spend my Tuesdays while my kids are at school; at the same time, I don’t need to get indignant if someone does. Maybe that person is honestly just curious, the same way I would be curious about what a physicist does all day (for the record, I don’t care what a physicist does all day). But if that person is a condescending jerkstore who somehow wants to make me feel I am single handedly bringing the feminist movement to its knees, I’m just going to let him or her be a condescending jerkstore. Getting all righteous and screamy and ragey is just going to make me the person who argues with a condescending jerkstore. And who wants to be that person? Those kind of rants have a way of getting out of control, and before you know, it turns into something like the Sinead O’Connor/Miley Cyrus Open Letter Marathon Catastrophe. And then you have to pick whether you want to be Sinead O’Connor or Miley Cyrus. In other words, your hair loses either way.
Basically, I am going to approach my status as a stay-at-home mom, as a mommy blogger, as a cliché, the same unapologetic way I approach being a Monkees fan: Yeah, I am one. So suck it. End of discussion.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have been simultaneously baking a batch of apple cider donuts that I found on Pinterest as I wrote this post, and it’s time to go artfully arrange them on a plate so I can Instagram the hell out of them.