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September 2, 2012 / daryleverett

Rejoining the Pack {the story of how being Mom isn’t enough}

Four years ago, I was beginning a job as a teacher and entering graduate school. During the previous 3 years I had been involved in multiple clubs at college, had served as an officer in one, had completed many volunteer hours in multiple ventures and had ideas to spare when asked why I should be recommended for a position. Then came my son. My husband and I made a conscious decision that I would leave work, for an indefinite length of time, in order to be as involved in this little boy’s life as I had been in all of my previous ventures. You see, I can’t give half of myself to something; when I do something I jump in with both feet and while I am involved that is my passion. In order for me to jump in to motherhood with both feet, I would need to set aside somethings for a little while to maintain my sanity. Those passions from before didn’t disappear. Every week I have reminded myself of the reason why I have put all these other things on hold.

I’ve taken a sabbatical from being a teacher for this:

Collage of mother and child activities

For much of the past three years I have felt like that last picture: a woman with a symbiote. Not a parasite–a symbiote because I need him as much as he needs me now.  Three years of not doing research. Three years without being in a classroom. Three years with no official students. Three years of not being a contributing member of society in the eyes of many in the world. Now that he’s a little bigger, I’d like to step into some of the things that I left behind while still being committed to my job as “Mama.”

As I make my way back into some of the things that I previously involved myself in, I need to share with people why I should be accepted into their packs.  I need to prove my worth. Tell them what I’ve done to deserve their approval.

What have I done? I’ve shared my life with a child. I’ve shown him how to use his hands as paintbrushes, how to cut paper, how to pet a cat, how to wash dishes, how to wash laundry, how to bathe. I’ve shown him airplanes, helicopters, Civil War battles, dragons, wild horses, goats, sheep, baby giraffe and baby leopards. I’ve taught him how to use a camera, how to use his hands to speak and how to use a toothbrush. I hope that I’ve also shared with him how to love without limits even when it’s hard or when it means you have to sacrifice. My current project is teaching him about numbers, colors and personal responsibility. The current salary is 7 kisses, 10 hugs a week with the opportunity for bonuses if I’ve shown exceptional performance in the workplace.

boy visiting a farm playing with sand and readingboy with penguin with snake with dragon with guitar with umbrella with giraffe with paint

The problem is that “playing in the rain” and “learning about instruments” don’t seem to say “woman committed to a cause” to those who read recommendation letters. They want more. They want you to document that you had done professional development, that you have been involved in the community and that you deserve their acceptance. When employers and scholarship committees see that you have spent a few years home with your child, they see a person who has left their former passions and is doing nothing. In fact, what they should see is a person who is so deeply committed to the cause of making society better that she has devoted that time in one-on-one, round-the-clock instruction and enrichment. Were I an au pair for 3 years, these same activities would gleam. I would be a committed employee who went above the call of duty to enrich the lives of my charges. The difference? No one is paying me. I’m a volunteer.

Sad isn’t it? I’ve taken all that I have learned in life and college and put it into practice to mold this little member of society and because no one hired me, I volunteered, it seems to count for nothing.

{Special thanks to Falon Phelps, Breanna Phelps, Chester Everett and Wanda Robinson for most of the pictures in the first collage}

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3 Comments

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  1. Sharon / Sep 2 2012 8:30 pm

    It is truly sad. IN light of the state of our country, it seems more people might be able to see the correlation between the beginning of the turn in the wrong direction and more women working outside the home. I am not against women working and having careers, and I might add that MANY also are very committed and effective mothers. BUT to say a woman who has decided to commit to her child and family accomplishes nothing is beyond reason.

    • daryleverett / Sep 2 2012 8:35 pm

      Sharon, I agree. I too know moms who are committed mothers and still find a way to work outside the home.

  2. sarcasmica / Sep 4 2012 1:26 am

    who says you can’t add Au-pair? it just so happens you’re related!

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