I interviewed more than thirty suburban moms for this post. Some I know personally, some are acquaintances, some I have never had the pleasure to meet in person. These women are working moms, work from home moms, stay at home moms. Bread winners, business owners. Boo boo kissers, household managers, and generally just badasses. The span all sorts of different family compositions: single moms, divorcees, married couples, foster and adoptive moms, and everything in between. One thing is for sure, they cannot be placed in a box. A box that before I moved to this suburb and having my own children, I too mistakenly placed most mothers.
I did not take it easy on these mamas. The questions I asked were not merely surface level. They are as follows:
Describe your role as a mom.
Do you think women can have it all? Can men?
What is one thing you are most jealous about someone with a different role?
What is something you love most about your role?
Now here’s where it gets really interesting.
As different as each of these mamas may be they also have more in common than I ever would have thought where it really counts. They stay up at night worrying about their babies. They love fiercely. They are exhausted. They never give up. I am so pleased to be able to share with you some of the beautiful things these women opened their hearts to share with me.
1. Describe your role as a mom.
“Being that my husband is a surgical resident my role as a mom is pretty heavy – I am responsible for ev.ery.thing. For my daughter 100% of the time. “
“Bringing structure to the family.”
“My role as a mother, I play both mom and dad. My job it to teach my son things dads are supposed to do, as well as things a mom is supposed to. My role is to teach him about God, how to love, care, be passionate, be athletic, be sympathetic, how to ride a bike, and how to treat people. Along with many other life lessons. My role is to take on a two person job of raising a tiny human.”
“My daughters are now 25 and 22. My role as a mother today could best be described as a guide. My girls are working toward finding the best version of themselves and where that fits in the world. They have questions (oh so many questions, lol), major decisions to make, and occasionally some doubt creeps in. My job is to be the one person they can count on no matter what. To be a sounding board, cheer on their victories or encourage them to pick themselves up, dust off and try again. Or more importantly, just remember their social security number and be able to tell if a chicken is thoroughly cooked via FaceTime.”
As responses poured into my inbox, I found myself more emotional than I expected to be. And I am emotional about everything so I have no idea why exactly I was surprised. These women are amazing! They really do coordinate the lives of their families. They are so different in some ways, but so similar in others. If I am honest, I really wish FaceTime had been available when I was learning to cook chicken!
2. Do you think women can have it all? Can men?
“No. I work a full time job (currently with an infant in tow). It seems unacceptable for me to work late because I have a household to run & kids to raise. I am always the 1st on call when the kids get sick, hurt or in trouble. I constantly rearrange my work schedule to accommodate others. Can men? No. My husband often talks about how much he misses the boys when he works long hours.”
“At the risk of sounding sexist, men absolutely can have it all. In my case as it seems in a lot of others, not much changes for them. Meanwhile we bear them, wreck our bodies, die trying to get it back, work full time running a business, wash bottles, wash clothes, but all the things and survive. They maybe have full interaction with a child for an hour each full day. It’s a struggle for women but men is a minor adjustment. I can still remember being busy at work on a Saturday while my husband was watching the then 5 month old baby and he called me “there’s no clean bottles”. So….wash them? I never understood that phone call but it’s the epitome of the difference of the change women experience vs men. I’m often jealous of women who have men who cook or help clean on a regular basis”
“I kinda think I have it all. It might not be all to others, but it’s all to me. My husband loves me unconditionally, my 4 kids are happy, we are debt free & financially stable, our families are close, and everyone’s healthy. Add in the love of God and the we are living the good life (at least we are in our opinion). Sure we have dreams and goals but that just means our “all” will become bigger when we reach those goals.”
Ok, so this question was divisive. There are some topics that just are that way. I would be lying if I said I didn’t throw this one in there because I was super curious what women, like me had to say about it. I think it’s a particularly interesting questions because what “having it all” means to each person is as unique as his or her fingerprint. Most of the women I talked to did by in large NOT feel like they could have it all. Of course this is a very small sample size, so take from that what you will.
3. What is one thing you are most jealous about someone with a different role?
“Meaningful adult interaction”
“I miss having help every day. I think being a single mom is lonely mostly because I can’t end the day with anyone after my kids go to bed. I just try to survive every day, and after they get into bed I’m so drained. I just find ways to have self-care. So, I think that’s what I would be mostly jealous about is having that person to decompress with. And, the help. Cause let’s be real it’s hard doing it all alone.”
“All I wanted was a family that wanted to spend time with our kids and not have to beg them just so my husband and I could go on a date.”
Each of these three mothers is describing a vastly different experience, but in my humble opinion it comes down to one common theme. We all need HELP! There is a reason every other Instagram post is about finding your #mamatribe. Or about how it takes a village. It quite literally does.
4. What is something you love most about your role?
“I get to be with my kids all day and watch them grow and develop. It’s easy to find things to complain about but it is such a blessing to be a stay at home mom!”
“I have learned I am capable of so much more than I ever thought I was. I never saw myself as a full time stay at home mom and have a full time career at the same time. Although I dream of the days I get to quit my job, I do believe I’ve learned and grown from it. There is some beauty in the struggle.”
“I love that I am able to take on a two person job. I am blessed with my job to be able to do this. What I love most is the thought that one day when my son is older, he can say that his mom did it all on her own for him. He’s my motivation.”
I want to thank each mom who took the time to answer my questions. Even if her words don’t appear here in print, they all influenced this post. Yes, each woman has a different story to tell. And, I have no doubt that if I got to go more in depth with each one of them I would discover even more tenderness and toughness than I got to see thus far. I hope that when the image of a suburban mom comes to your mind, whatever image you previously had in your head, you now have a woman made of strength, courage, and tenacity. A woman who will do what needs to be done for her family. Maybe a woman who looks a little like you.