My Mary Tyler Mom Moment
If I’m being totally honest, I’ve always been kind of judgemental about stay at home moms.
I always thought having a baby would be a lot of hard work, but part of being a “good” feminist was that even as a mother, you’d have to continue to push boundaries in the workplace. In my mind that meant trying to be in a top leadership position where you can make real change.
At least that was what I envisioned for myself after I had Virginia.
However, a little over eight months in the game I haven’t worked a full work week since Ginny Rose was born. By all accounts, I’m a full-time stay at home mom. But when I meet new people or even meetup with other moms I always say I’m a freelance filmmaker who hasn’t gone back to work yet. I felt embarrassed about my new job title and I didn’t want my current motherhood status to define my career status or ambition.
But, earlier this month I got a taste of the working mom life. I was scheduled to speak to a group of high schoolers at Adobe’s headquarters in NYC. The students were watching Dream, Girl as part of their tech-focused summer camp with Adobe. I was slated to share what I had learned in the process of making the film.
I got up in the morning, breastfed, showered, got dressed, packed my bags, passed off Ginny Rose to my friend Ashley, and kissed my childcare obligations behind.
The sun was shining, the trains ran on time, and I felt like Mary Tyler Moore ready to kick up my boots and get to steppin’. I couldn’t even remember the last time I was in Manhattan.
I felt free as a bird.
And I couldn’t believe my husband got to do this every damn day!
At Adobe I gave a passionate and emotional one hour presentation to the young women in the room. I always cry in front of high schoolers they are truly my emotionally achilles heel- seeing all their bright eyes speaks directly to something in my heart and reminds me of why I created Dream, Girl. I truly want every high schooler in America to see the film.
Afterwards I gathered my things and hurried home to my little girl and to alleviate Ashley who had somehow conjured the superpowers to watch both our kids at the same time.
While on the Brooklyn-bound R, I saw a mom step onto the train with her two young boys. She looked exhausted. Her hair was a mess and she was wearing the mom uniform, a baggy t-shirt and black leggings. My heart swelled and tears welled up in my eyes. I’m sure her day was 100% harder than any work day I’ve ever had.
I broke down and cried thinking about how hard it is to be a stay at home mom. How my judgement and previous skepticism was insane- thinking that stay at home moms and full time caregivers are some of the hardest working people on the planet. They don’t get a break, they don’t get time to get dressed, or decompress, or to “take a minute” or a lunch break, or a bathroom break. All they do all day is give, and give, and give, and give. And when they feel overwhelmed or tried or “over it” they dig deep down and give some more.
And no matter what happens with my career moving forward, and what accomplishments I have in my past- I’ll never be more proud of the time and work it took to stay at home with Ginny Rose.
Through sleep deprivation, battling postpartum depression, staying sane during hours of crying spells, to figuring out how to not starve to death while breastfeeding– this is hands down is the hardest job I’ve ever done and yet somehow the most badass thing I’ll ever do.
And when I meet a new parent on the playground I won’t hesitate to tell them proudly, I’m a stay at home mom.
Written by Erin Bagwell
Copy edited by Diana Matthews