A reader asked us to give more information about the writers of StuntMom. My mind has been going in so many directions - who am I? Short Answer: My name is Rebecca, aka StuntBec. I am 35; live in Rockland, Maine; have 3 children: Beatrice (almost 5), James (almost 3), and Henry (almost 1); and I stay at home with them.
But no, that's not really me. Who am I? When I asked myself this, a lightbulb lit up, for this is a part of my frustrations: How do I now perceive myself? I'm not just a stay at home mom! When I taught writing, as a prompt for my students, I would ask them to write about a proud moment in their lives. You wouldn't believe how many women wrote that giving birth was their proudest moment. I feel a secret guilt that this is not the case for me. Each birth was amazing, incredible, painful. But that's not what I would rank as one of my proudest moments. It's biology. I am not the universal mother. I love being a mom, I love my children like I never imagined I would, but I'm still Rebecca, too. I'm a stay at home mom because my husband and I just happen to think that it's for the best interests of our children, and for society in general, for one of us to stay home and, simply put, raise them. I don't define myself simply as a mom. So, why can't I quickly list more information about myself? Where did my identity go? Did one of the nurses whisk it away, along with the afterbirth and general mess, after I gave birth to my daughter? Sometimes it feels that way.
In a psychology class that I took in high school, we were instructed to pick one word, whatever came to mind first, to describe ourselves. At the time, epileptic surfaced first. I struggled with seizures for many years. But I've been seizure free, sans medication, for going on 9 years. Thankfully, that label is a thing of the past. In college, it was easy. I was an English major. Grammar and Victorian literature were my specialties. This label lasted until I finished graduate school, in 2002. But now that I'm 35, it seems a little silly to use a degree to define oneself. And let's be honest: although I still read books, I haven't picked up and reread my comfort food of literature, Jane Eyre, since the birth of my second child. My last paid job has been teaching English as a Second Language and also Basic Reading and Writing (a pre-GED course). But even that label is gone, now that I've moved to Rockland. What is my identity now? Stay at Home Mom just doesn't sit right with me. And I know, we've talked about this before, when trying to come up with a new label for SatHM.
When I was out taking my parents' dogs for a walk this morning, it finally dawned on me. I remembered a conversation I had with my mother, a few months after the birth of my first child. I worried a lot, at that time, about dying before my children were grown. I asked her to be sure, if I died, that my children were raised to be compassionate people. It's not that my husband isn't caring, but he's just not the best communicator. I sometimes think important messages on life would be lost if it were solely up to him to teach them.
So my main goal, what defines what I do with my children, is to teach them compassion, and to be productive, cooperative thinkers. The world needs more of them. The word compassion, alas, has suffered much abuse these days. Our compassionate conservative president (the one who consistently cuts funding for those who need it most) once told us, to help our great country, go shopping at the mall. Spend some money. Anyone else remember this speech? It haunts me, for this mentality is just what I feel is wrong with our society today. Consume. It's good for you, and good for the country. He didn't tell us to volunteer at a soup kitchen, or be a literacy tutor, or even to spend a few extra minutes in the day reading or playing with our very own children. Nope, just shop. So many people don't question this mentality!
Anyway, I won't get sidetracked. But I feel that my role as a stay at home parent is to teach my children an awareness of the world and people around them. So I'm making the effort to teach them a foreign language, so that they understand and appreciate that the rest of the world does not speak just English. For the global perspective, I'm not telling them to finish their suppers, because people in China are starving (how many of your parents told you this, night after night?). Sadly, that's about the only global talk I ever heard as a child. I'm instead sharing stories I've gathered from my multinational students. They hear of Mohammad, who at age 10 experienced the worst scare of his life, when he and his father were taking a herd of camels across the desert at night, and were surrounded by a bunch of lions. They hear of Tichote, and his childhood in Sudan. After a relative called a homeless person a bum, the family discussed homelessness, and how it's not just about people being lazy. Perhaps these messages are lost at such an early age, but why wait? Am I putting the weigh of the world on their little shoulders? I do keep the horrid details at bay, but without a knowledge of other people, how else could we nurture a compassion for others? This is my main "intension." Wish me luck.
So, readers, writers, tell us about yourselves! Why did you make the decision to stay at home and take an active role in raising your children?