Yesterday I turned on the television hoping for a Hurricane Gustav update. While waiting I was completely focused on reviewing my sister’s resume and didn’t notice that “The View” had come on.
They are apparently shooting from Las Vegas this week, and the hosts started discussing getting “guilt gifts” for the children they left home. Guilt gifts because they feel guilty for leaving their children to work, and having a good time while doing it. Then followed several moments discussion on the guilt working women feel because they have to leave their children to earn a living.
Finally Barbara Walters summed it up by saying how being a working mom and a stay-at-home moms both have negatives. She said that either you feel guilty for leaving your kids “…or you stay home and then the kids go off to college and you say to yourself, ‘What did I give it all up for?'”
Well, that comment certainly gave me pause (true, this is Barbara Walters, who said a woman breastfeeding on an airplane “made me very nervous, she didn’t cover the baby with a blanket. It made us uncomfortable.”).
But then I realized she was right, at least technically. I might actually say those words, “What did I give it all up for?” I’d like to answer it now:
Staying in bed and cuddling until mid-morning.
Taking a detour to the train station to watch trains go by.
Being there to see all his firsts.
Playing with Lincoln Logs in the middle of the day.
Watching him eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Taking the long way everywhere so we can stop at the stop signs.
Visiting every bathroom in South Florida.
Watching his eyes droop as his naptime nears.
Waking him from a nap with a kiss and a cuddle.
Taking a spontaneous walk on the beach and watching him chase birds, giggling with glee.
Watching him take a cupful of milk and make it stick to his face.
I could go on and on. And it’s not that working Moms can’t do these things, they can just do it less frequently than I can. But I’m greedy. I can’t get enough of it.
Perhaps there are women who regret giving up their careers to raise their children themselves, though I don’t know any.
Yes, I gave it up. And I gave it up gladly. I definitely got the better end of this bargain, and sometimes I giggle with glee and awe that I get to do this. I try not to think about the day that Son leaves for college (or the military, or the Peace Corps) and I have to think about how my days won’t be filled with the wonder of him.
When I ask myself “What did I give it all up for?” it won’t be with tears of regret for opportunities missed. It will be with tears of joy as I remember all of the wonderful things I got to experience because I was lucky enough to have a front row seat for this wonderful child’s life.
I did give it up for him, and the reasons why will give me comfort as I take a back seat and watch him make a life.
So, Barbara, do me a favor. You go back to your important work of making celebrities cry, and I’ll go back to my work of shaping a human. K? K.