the she series: a seesaw of working and moming

I’ve known this female for as long as I can remember. As I child I knew her as being cheery and accommodating, having a meticulously clean home and someone who shared my love for the color purple.

The most interesting thing in reading her responses was that I thought of her more as a working mom, but she emphasizes more her stay-at-home mom time. I’m sure my perception is partly off since I mostly saw her on random family visits and as a child, but she has had quite a successful career in my opinion.

I also remember a huge painting that hung in their home. At one point I learned she was the one who painted it, but only now reading her responses did I find out she also studied art in school. Women and their hidden talents!

Insecurities and Parenting

I’m always insecure with my self esteem. Sometimes, I don’t feel good enough, pretty enough, and most important smart enough. I believe this comes from the way I was raised by my parents. 25 years of brainwashing. My father used to always say I was “wet behind the ears”.

I want equality for men and women. It’s only fair and it’s only right. Women can do so many things, wear so many hats, and are so important to society. I felt unfairly treated as a female by my parents. They allowed my brother to do so much. My sisters and I had many limitations. Was it because of culture differences? Maybe. Was it because my father was controlling? Yes. Was it because my mother played favoritism? Definitely, yes.

Now at 56, I’ve been living my life as married-with-children longer than I was living with my parents. With some help from my friends (plus professional help, and the support of pastors and elders within my church), I realize that I am important, successful, smart and strong. It has taken over 30 years of my adult life to get here.

My most difficult times of being a woman/mother is being a parent to adult children. It is ironic that you raise your children to be honest, decision-makers, and responsible. It is exactly those qualities that have come back to bite me as they are adults with their honesty, decision making. Laced over all of that is the dilemma of menopause. I’m hot, irritable, forgetful, itchy and tired all the time. There’s no more libido either. And, I can’t help it. Hormones!

Motherhood and Family

I was raised upon the traditional family structure and it turned out that my husband and I raised our family upon a traditional family structure as well. I considered myself lucky to have been able to stay home with the kids. I think it’s important for the family’s development that at least one parent is home. I know that’s not necessarily the case for many people, nowadays. I’ve witnessed many households that are untraditional. Whether that comes from the definition of a 2-income family, homosexual or lesbian headed homes, or the rise of homeless people, I find it important to consider the nurturing of children to come from a positive home front. Traditional or nontraditional…parenthood has massive responsibilities.

Motherhood. Great for some. Not for others. It’s a humongous task that doesn’t come with any instructions, return policy or do-overs. A girl is taught to be so many things…a woman is constantly changing and reforming to accommodate others…especially men.

I didn’t necessarily like being pregnant. All 3 times, I was so “green” for the entire 9 months. When I got pregnant with the first child, I was so busy helping my hubby with a 7-Eleven franchise, I thought I came down with the flu. I went to the doctor only to be sent home with a stupid grin on my face–I was pregnant.

Women, all around me, were loving the prego months. They glowed. They shopped for little clothes and decorated their nurseries. I guess I did that too, but I had mood swings that got in the way. My only “ha ha” moment was that I woke up one morning very hungry. Hubby had just come to bed after working so many hours at the store. I woke up when he came in and couldn’t go back to sleep because I felt hungry. So hungry for the first time in months. By 4:00am, I got up, got dressed and slipped out of the apartment to get a Grand Slam, at Denny’s. I ate every morsel and washed it down with orange juice. I returned home, got back into my PJ’s and slipped back into bed. Hubby never knew I was gone. I remember going into a deep sleep with a smile on my face.

Education and Experience

I think it is important to have a complete education. Goodness knows there were times I thought I didn’t need to, but in a way I’m glad my controlling father insisted that I finish school. Yes, it is important to have a college (or trade) education even if you plan on being a housewife or stay-at-home mom. It is a security to know that you have something to fall back on.

I had pretty good grades from elementary to high school. I was accepted to UCLA, but was forbidden to go. Instead, I was encouraged to take my acceptance to CSULA. It was closer to home and I commuted. I didn’t regret this choice by my parents. I started out at CSULA for a couple years then made a detour to Pasadena Art Center. I wasn’t happy there, so back to CSULA I went. I wrapped up my degree in Graphic Design, got engaged, and chose to walk down the wedding aisle over walking for graduation.

The degree helped my resume. When my two oldest children were young, I got a job as an H.R. manager, but ultimately decided to stay home with them instead. When my youngest was little I got a job as an optician, but stayed for only a year. Though my mother-in-law was glad to help us out, she strongly suggested I stay home to raise our three children. My son was only a toddler and was the poster child for the “terrible twos”.

When my youngest started kindergarten and my oldest was in middle school, I thought it was safe to try working outside the house again. The degree and all my experiences helped me land a position catering luxury boxes at Angel Stadium. No, I didn’t need a degree to serve in the food industry, but the degree was needed to let the company know that I was interested in management. I catered with Aramark for 13 years, serving many VIPs and celebrities during that time. I’m lucky that my husband can support the household, financially, so that I could retire at 52. Though I never had a career and a corner office (that use to bother me like I was a failure), I got to retire from working. It was always good to have a degree as my safety net. Just one slip and it would have had to catch my fall.

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