Long, long ago in the early 90’s, if anyone had ever suggested to my bra-burning (Ok I totally never burned a bra because my bodacious girls need support but if I was like an B cup, that thing would’ve been torched.) career driven, feminist self that I put my gazillion dollars’ worth of education on the shelf to be a stay-at-home-mother, I’d have jacked them. However, one thing my young self did not understand is that sometimes circumstances make your choices for you.
In the nearly eight years I’ve had offspring dependent upon me for their survival, circumstances have dictated that I take two tours of duty in the role of stay-at-home mom. One turned out well, the other, well…it’s not looking so good.
My first tour was in Turkey. Prior to the arrival of The Turtle, I was a hard-working broad teaching a full-time schedule in two languages every day. I taught up until I was due when, thanks to the Turk’s job, we moved from the third largest city in Turkey to a village in the middle of bumble. Post-birth of the Turtle and stuck in a remote seaside village, unless I tied on a headscarf and sold tissues to passing tourists like a gypsies, (Why gypsies, why the tissues? Is phlegm really that prominent with those visiting your country?) there was absolutely no place for me to work. It was rough but with the help of my lord and savior Martha Stewart and the interweb, I made it though and by the end I’d become a pretty bad-ass Turkish mother. It wasn’t enough to turn me though and after our repatriation two years later, I ran back into the workforce like my ass was on fire.
This second time around I didn’t voluntarily re-up. I was drafted. And due to my time back in the saddle as a working stiff, I’m not at my top-mom-form like before. I probably should’ve trained before returning to the trenches but it all went down too fast. My recruiter – aka, The Turk- sucked me in by suggesting I was just taking a few weeks off to get the Nugget through surgery, but now it’s morphed into an open-ended tour. In the time since I’ve arrived on the Front,(aka-school pick-up, the playground, the library…) it’s become clear that being a stay-at-home mom in Turkey is vastly different than doing it American style and might I say, dear reader I suck at American stay at home moming and here is why:
- I don’t have enough exercise-wear.
In Turkey, you never left home. Ever. You might go out for a walk but the standard mom uniform was a floral scarf jauntily covering your bad hair day and a sweater vest. (I never got down with either but I highly enjoyed the low fashion bar.) Here in the U.S. every damn day at school pick-up those mothers are in color coordinated work-out gear. For the love of God, I even overheard one mother mention she was wearing a yoga-dress. I don’t even understand what that is! Do you really need your bare ass to kiss the sky in the downward dog? While it’s clear most of these mothers did not just dash over from the gym, in their matchy-matchy Sporty Spice outfits even the old gals that jiggle with the giggles look good. I can’t rock that look. I tried. The Turk laughed. Guess I’ll just wear my jeans. Thanks.
- I hate playgroups.
In Turkey, the closest thing to a playgroup was the people you might run into on the beach or at the playground. The kids would play, you’d chat and you’d never see them again. No planning. No organizing. No exchange of numbers. That is social interaction the way I like it. Here it’s a whole different story. Pretty much if you don’t want your kid to be like one of Warren Jeffs’ kids raised by sister wives on the tundra of Utah, then you have to go to playgroups. The bigger issue I have is my geriatric memory. I’ve become quite skilled at signing the Nugget up for forced fun only to totally forget. So far since July I’ve signed him up for seven events. We’ve attended none. I suck.
- I don’t enjoy mom-talk.
Back in Turkey I’d get together with the women in my building for tea but it was just a gossip-fest and though I spoke Turkish, I could bow out at any moment with the old, “Me no understand.” Here, my world is overloaded with mom-talk, from the playground to the library there are millions of Chatty Cathys waiting to pounce. (Full disclosure – sometimes on the playground I speak to my kids exclusively in Turkish so people think I don’t understand English and therefore won’t talk to me. All’s fair in war I tell ya.) Sure, I can talk babywearing and extended lactation like a hard-core Earth mama. I also get bonus points for being able to simultaneously talk toddlers and elementary kids thanks to the gap between my little Turks, but that does not mean I enjoy it. My soul needs politics and fart jokes. I want to banter about the business of books rather than the business of boobs.
- I don’t like to play.
How can American mothers spend so much time playing with their kids? You’re totally screwing those of us who don’t. Turkish mothers do not play with their kids. That’s grandma’s job. There are things to clean and meals to cook. Ain’t nobody got time to visit the Island of Sodor and chat up Sir Topam Hatt every damn day. Sorry boys, my playtime is tight. You want to set up a Lego man war room, hit me up. I can orchestrate a deadly attack of Ninjago on Chima that would make Collin Powell take notice but I’m only giving you five minutes.
- I actually enjoy going to work.
This is what got me in Turkey too. Staying home blows. I like having conversations with other grown-ups that have nothing to do with poop schedules (though I will admit, I’ve had a few poop schedules discussions at previous jobs and there were no infants or toddlers in the subject line). I like to accessorize – not just consider my hair-tie bracelet to be my accessory of the day. I enjoy mocking workplace authority figures after Eddy Haskelling them to their faces. (I never claimed I was a good employee, I just said I liked to go to work.) While I’ll admit, visiting Target during off peak hours is a joy only understood from experience, it doesn’t compare with having someone give you money for showing up every day.
Regardless of my suckage, I’m here now and I’m going to make the best of it because my Nugget needs me. This is my ‘Nam man but if I’m to make it out alive, I’m going to need more yoga pants.