“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abraham Lincoln*
*Widely believed but never proven. Who originally said it, doesn’t take away from the meaning.
This is my all time favorite quote. It has so much positivity and can hold so many meanings.
I come from an area in our country where people have lived on hard times for a long time. Northeastern Ohio is the heart of the rustbelt and for as long as I can remember, the people in our area have worked hard, for little money, but for a lot of pride. Growing up, a lot of my friends’ parents worked in factories, at manufacturing jobs or “drove truck”, and had never gone to college. A lot of my friends didn’t have anyone in their whole family who had gone to college (my mom was the first college graduate in our family) but if you did go to college, it was most likely to become a teacher or a nurse. Growing up, getting a job at GM was setting your family up for success and still today, fighting for your union rights is honorable. People here still go to high school football games every Friday night whether they “know” anyone on the field (we still go to a game every chance we get) and if you get sick, you can guarantee the people in town are going to throw together a golf outing or a beef and beer, to raise money for you and your family. Where I’m from, the economy has always been bad. You can still buy a 3 bedroom house, move in ready (although maybe not updated), for $39,000 but just because real estate is cheap doesn’t mean it’s dumpy. There is so much pride here. People care about their lawns and support their teams (even though the Browns still suck!). They love their neighbors and traditions. They scream I-O if you scream O-H, even though they don’t personally have a connection to the state college. When I was younger, I used to wish that I came from a “more interesting” part of the world and tried for a long time, to distance myself from “back there’. But now, when I think about the values and character that I want my children to be raised with, there is no better place than Ohio for that to be accomplished. My home. My husband’s home. Where our first son was born and where he vehemently defines as his own home although he only lived there for a fourth of his life. There is a work ethic and a responsibility and a kindness that I have not seen in any other culture, anywhere else I have lived. And it’s not just me who sees this. When I was running races a lot in New Jersey, I met an older runner who was born and raised in NJ and I’ll never forget what he told me when he found out I was from Ohio. He said, “The people of Ohio, they’re simple people. They aren’t the most educated or worldly people, but they are the most kind, giving, and polite people I’ve ever met.” And I was proud. Because he was right. Ohioans may not be much when it comes to worldly matters or society, but they are the best at what they are. And I’m so proud of that.
Another way that this quote holds meaning to me is because I’m “just” a stay at home mom. I know a lot of women are insecure about this but I am, most definitely, not one of them. I am so lucky that I get the option to stay at home with my children and I am grateful to my husband every day. He is the one who gets paid for his job which provides us with every single thing that we need or want but I do everything else and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m not trying to say that Josh comes home from work, takes his boots off and kicks up his feet because he doesn’t. He is a very involved parent and helps me with anything that I ask of him, but when it comes to the weight of running our household, I carry it. It took a few years for me to get to the level of comfort that I’m at with my life choice but now I issue no apologies. I used to think about the women of the 50’s who were stuck in the house doing the mundane things that I do by choice. The women who hated their lives and ended up starting a revolution to change things. But the difference is that I have a choice. I’m not expected to, or pressured to stay at home and care for my children and husband. I do what I do because it’s what I want to do. That alone, is the definition of liberation. I also used to think about my responsibility as an intelligent person. Aren’t I wasting my ability to contribute to society? But parenting your children is one of the largest contributions to society that you can make. I am raising 3 amazing, polite, kind, smart people who are going to grow up and make a bigger impact than I ever could have made myself, and part of the reason they’ll be able to do this is because I give my all to be their mom. When my kids grow up, I can’t see how they’ll ever wonder why I didn’t want more in my life. What I hope they see is that no matter how important society ranks my purpose, no matter how many working mothers pity me for not having my own life or dreams, Parker, Theo and Ruby are my life and my dreams. They are my purpose and my want and being their mother fulfills me more than anything I’ve ever done in my life. Seriously. Like, I was born to be a mom. And in the end, I hope that they feel that even though I was only a mom, I was a really good mom.