Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Double Life

Editorial by Shaila Creekmore, Illustration by Brittney Guest as printed in the January 2010 issue of Jonesboro Occasions Magazine.   

   I lead a double life. Maybe I’m not even who you think I am.
   To some, I’m the photographer from Occasions. That girl who catches you in the middle of a conversation or with a mouth full of food and asks, “Could I get a picture of you guys?”

   To others, I’m Samuel and Tyler’s mom: The mom in car line, helping at the school class party or on a play date at Chick-fil-A.

   Occasionally these two lives cross, but only on rare occurrence.

   Three days a week, I’m your typical stay at home mom. I drop off and pick-up Samuel from school, clean house and watch Sesame Street with Tyler. I often attend a Bible study with a group of other stay-at-home moms and then go with our brood of children to lunch. Twice a month I attend MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers, enjoying time of fellowship, learning from each other and sympathizing with the struggles of being a mother. I put on jeans and a T-shirt or my mommy suit (those comfortable two-piece outfits that every stay at home mom has) and run errands, buy groceries or meet friends for a play date.

   The other two days, I’m your typical working mom. I rush around the house to get myself and the boys dressed and drop them off at school and make my way to the office. I answer e-mails, return phone calls, mark off items from my to-do list and run to meetings. I often meet friends or business associates for lunch, or use the hour to run quick errands without children in toe. I end the day by picking the boys up from school and quickly getting home to prepare dinner.

   On many nights, I quickly eat with the family and then rush to cover one of the countless social or philanthropic events around town. Although I am often invited to eat at events, you’ll rarely see me do so because our family rule is that we eat together as a family every night. Upon return to home, I give baths, brush teeth and tuck boys in bed. I also slip out of my mommy role most weekends for a couple of hours to cover large formal events or benefits for one of the many Jonesboro non-profits.

   I love my mommy days at home. It gives me time to watch my boys grow and share in their lives. But at least twice a week, I get to be something other than Samuel and Tyler’s mom. I am able to continue working in my degree field and building my portfolio, work on projects, meet and talk with interesting people and have adult conversations.

   I have the rare opportunity to be a mom in both worlds. Those two worlds, however, often hold a lot of animosity for each other. The first time I became aware of these negative feelings was before I became a mother. On an early episode of the Dr. Phil show, a studio full of moms verbally attacked each other. I watched in amazement as these women yelled and screamed at each other from across the studio. The working moms accused the stay-at-home moms of being lazy, having no initiative and being selfish for keeping their children at home instead of giving them the best early education possible. Stay-at-home moms called the working moms self-seeking and questioned why they even had children if they were going to let other people raise them.

   While I’ve not been around women in real life as opinionated as these women, there are little snide comments and disapproving looks that you occasionally see in conversations among women. But as a mom who lives in both worlds, I can easily say neither life is easy, both have their negatives and positives and moms on both sides are doing their best to provide the best life for their children in the best way they know how.

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