Copyright Courtney Vallejo 2016. All rights reserved.
Growing up, for the majority of my childhood, my mom was a stay-at-home mom. In the eyes of the women’s rights people, she was wasting her college education and her teaching credential by staying home to do laundry and bake cookies. But really, she was using that credential and degree to teach myself and my sister. I would assume she would agree, that she was using her education to make better people for the world. She was hoping we would become the kind of people that would love and inspire and create and invent and pursue our dreams at whatever cost. Growing up, people would ask me what I wanted to be, and it wasn’t until I started the Momnipotent book series, that I remembered, I would tell people I wanted to be a mom. Sadly, that answer was met with hostility. Their responses would include such questions as, ” You just want to be a mom?”, ” Don’t you want to “be” something? or “No, I meant what career do you want?”
I would like to say that their comments didn’t matter and that I stayed true to my dreams, but their opinions swayed my dreams. I decided I needed a “real” career. What really fulfilled me was taking care of others and being of service, but since that wasn’t “good enough” I got a Bachelors in Journalism. My family promoted higher education and so I spent $80.000 on a Master’s in Film Production, because I didn’t know what to do with a journalism degree in the Los Angeles market, and although my college advisor warned me about just going to school for the “extra initials,” I decided it would help guide me into Journalism. While my program was amazing, and I loved pretty much every moment of it, including my internship at the Cannes Film Festival, today I am left with a $470 a month student loan bill and no “real career” to pay that bill.
Later in life, my search for a career (and really a means to provide for myself) lead me to teaching. If only I had listened to my mother when she told me to become a teacher years ago! So now when I’m at a work event for my husband and people ask me, “So what do you do?” my answer is, “I’m a stay at home mom.” And because I’m not secure in that answer, 1. because I don’t feel like I’m good at it half the time and 2, because society doesn’t consider that a “real” career, I quickly follow up my comment with “but I’m a teacher by trade.” That of course spurs conversation about where I teach, which leads me back to the part about how I don’t “work”, because I’m home with me kids. Later I’m generally asked if I’ll return to teaching when my kids go to school, I don’t plan on it, but if I answer no, they look at me like I’m crazy. What I’ve realized is that I forgot my dream of being a mom, and since becoming a mom, I got disillusioned with the constant cleaning, laundry, cooking and thankless jobs and started to assume I was wasting my time and also losing who I “was,” and wondered if I needed to regain myself?
Recently between my MOPS group theme of “Be You Bravely” and the Momnipotent book study I’m leading for my parish’s mom’s group, I’ve began to reevaluate my dream of being a mom. What if I stopped thinking about all the ways I’m “missing out” on a making a difference in the world, and started focusing on making a difference in my own world, inside my home? What if I gave it my best effort? What if I showed my kids what it means to be served and loved, as my mother showed me growing up? In the book Momnipotent, the author Danielle Bean says “One of the casualties of our failure to acknowledge our uniquely feminine characteristics is our own happiness.” What if I reclaimed my happiness, by serving my family? What if we reclaimed our dignity as mothers? What if we started our own revolution?