SAHM No More explores the the ups-and-downs of navigating a new world of parenting, transitioning from married stay-at-home motherhood to a full-time working, divorced motherhood. And there are a lot of adjustments being made—a lot of adjustments and not a lot of sleep.
The thing about parenting is that a lot of it has to do with compartmentalizing. Obviously, you don’t want to divide your whole life into discrete entities that have nothing to do with one another. That seems vaguely sociopath. But it can be nice to have things separated. There’s the side of me that eats the leftover mac and cheese off my kid’s dinner plate and there’s the side of me that interviews authors who I respect and emulate. I’d like to keep those two parts of me far, far away from each other.
For the most part, I’m successful at doing this. I don’t feel like I’m compromising either my “mom” self or my “work” self. It’s just two sides of the same person, two different worlds in the same gravitational orbit. But sometimes, when it seems like those worlds are going to collide, I am forced to confront the fact that not everyone in each world might be so comfortable with what’s happening elsewhere.
Mostly what I worry about is not what anyone from my professional world will think about my kids and my life as a mother. Mostly what I worry about is what will happen when my kids or, for that matter, their friends Google me and discover that I am eminently searchable. I worry that what they might find would not gel with the idea of what a “mom” should be doing. And as much as I hesitate to say that there are things that any mom “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing, I’m very aware of what would have embarrassed me to death when I was an adolescent. And I’m afraid that I’m guilty of a lot of those things.
I am a writer and an editor. Much of my writing is online writing and I write a variety of pieces, including somewhat confessional non-fiction writing. On this site alone, I have written about things like the time my (now ex-) husband ran out of the delivery room when I was in labor with our second child because he thought staying there would ruin our sex life. I’ve also written for other sites on such topics like the time I suffered a miscarriage and the period in my life when I dealt with crippling anxiety. I worry what my children will think if they read these pieces. I worry that they will have questions that they might not feel comfortable asking me. I worry that they will feel like they don’t know me in the way they always thought they did.
There is also the fact that, because much of my writing is online, I frequently get a healthy amount of comments on my posts. Many of these comments are positive but even when they’re critical, they’re usually respectful. Except, of course, when they’re not. And, wow. Then they’re really not! Perhaps one of the most memorable comment exchanges was on a post I did for another website between two anonymous commenters who called themselves “PP McWeiner” and “Sexlord” as they argued over whether I ought to check myself into a mental hospital. I must admit, PP McWeiner had some good points, but that’s not really the issue here. The issue is more that I’m concerned about how my children would react to seeing anonymous commenters suggesting that their mother be fired. It worries me that they wouldn’t be able to understand that these attacks aren’t personal. Of course, even I sometimes take these attacks personally, so I know how easy it is to get sucked in.
I trust my children to have good judgment. I know that I’m raising them to be thoughtful people who have open minds and, for the most part, I’m not afraid of revealing a new side of myself to them. I always try to be respectful of their privacy when I write and I know that plenty of parents share far more details about their kids through Facebook than I do through my writing.
I have also shown my kids some of the things that I’ve written online. They are always sweetly proud and supportive. My boys are excited because they know that I am passionate about what I do. But there is still the little part of me that dreads the day that they Google me and come up with the story about their father running out of the delivery room.
Oh, well. My mother once showed a bunch of my friends a picture of me as a baby, naked and in the bath. And I survived without too many emotional scars. I think?