I work part-time, so I don’t fit in with the real Stay At Home Moms (SAHMs). I stay at home the majority of the time, so I don’t fit in with the working moms. I’m 40 with littles, so I don’t fit in with the young mommies of littles, but I’m in a completely different phase of life than most of my close friends, whose kids are tweens and teens by now. I can’t join many of the Bible studies or moms’ groups, because many meetings take place during my work hours. And then there are the groups who make the assumption that childcare is affordable for everyone, so they don’t provide that benefit.
Here I am, by myself on this little island. The Island of Misfit Caregivers. I’m alone with these two tiny humans (4 and 1.5) for 12 hours a day, five days a week. I don’t get a break because the only childcare we can comfortably afford is consumed by my working hours. My husband truly does not comprehend what I do, and I just don’t have the energy to defend how hard I work anymore. I feel lonely and misunderstood a lot of the time. I feel ISOLATED. And because I worked full-time for the first two years with my first child, I often attribute these feelings of isolation to being a not-so-SAHM.
So I was surprised when a working mom of one of our new studio families used the word “ISOLATING” to describe how she feels as a working mom.
There have been many times during the year and a half that I’ve been at home that I’ve thought, “I should just go back to work. This is too challenging, and I feel like I’m failing, and maybe I wouldn’t feel this way if I could just do what I know and get away from these people.” (No offense babe, but husband included.)
But it turns out that just as I feel isolated and like I don’t fit in anywhere, so does this mom who’s working outside the home five days a week. Here we are, on opposite ends of the parenting spectrum, but feeling the EXACT same feeling. ISOLATION.
Then I thought, such is probably the case with SAHDs, parents of adoption, parents of loss, single parents, parents of children with disabilities, nannies and family members who take on the task of helping to raise children who aren’t their own, and the list goes on. Everyone is isolated by their own unique circumstances.
One of the many blessings of my Kindermusik family is the community that helps me to see that, though we all struggle with different circumstances and different life challenges, we’re really all on the same island. We’re all stranded in the midst of this beautiful, tumultuous, parenting sea, dealing with demands and expectations beyond our control, and we all wonder how much easier it might be if we were on the other side.
Perhaps if there were just someone else who was exactly like us, in exactly the same boat, we might feel better.
Though we might not be in the same boat, we’re all living on the same island. We’re all misfits, and that makes us a community, bonded in the joys and challenges of parenthood. Our common feelings of isolation create a community of support through which we lift each other up and make each other stronger.
Who runs the world? Misfit caregivers. That’s who.