Recently, an article made the rounds on the mommy-web (by that I mean a few Facebook groups I occasionally get updates from...) and it predictably ruffled some feathers. The title? A Stay-At-Home Parent Is Not A ‘Luxury'
The piece is the author's point of view after (repeatedly) being told, “Well, you are lucky you have the luxury to stay at home.” She finds that comment offensive, and struggles specifically with the word "luxury", feeling it implies that what she does is nonessential or an indulgence.
Now, I won't even begin to stoke the flames of a stay at home vs. working parent debate (both roads are good, and hard, and admirable, and challenging...in my mind there is no debate because there should be no comparison, only compassion for the different paths we take that may actually be more similar than we think. But that is an entirely different soapbox for me to stand on another day). No moms have a role that is nonessential, or an indulgence, so the author's point there is valid regardless. But this post did get me thinking about the word luxury, as it pertains to motherhood in general.
I have to be honest, that if someone told me that being a mother- stay at home or not- was a luxury, I may not be offended exactly, but I would think they maybe didn't hear me correctly.
"No, no, I said: 'I'm a mom'...Not queen, or lady of leisure, or person who chooses when and how long her own bathroom breaks are."
I tend to associate luxury, with fancy, or glamorous, and I can assure you that 3.5 years and 2.5 kids into this motherhood gig, the number of times I've associated any of those words with being a mom is the same as the number of perfectly flattering jeans I own: zero.
Being a mother is not a luxury. Motherhood is not luxurious.
Right? I mean...it can't be. It's too messy. And tiring. And unpredictable. Yet tedious.
But wait...Here are some other synonyms for luxury: Grandeur. Magnificence. Splendor.
So, taking your almost two year old to the park as a special after-"school" (read: daycare) surprise, only to have her throw an epic public tantrum the minute she gets near the mulch because who knows why? maybe you suggested the swings, when allll she wants to do is the slide, you terrible monster....Well, that's not fancy, or glamorous or luxurious. (But it was my evening yesterday, thankyouverymuch).
But watching that same almost two year old reach for your hand before deciding to try the jungle-gym steps on her own, then beam with pride as she braves the tunnel and the big-girl slide (backwards, on her belly of course, because why not?), then run back to the steps grinning and signing "more, more!"...Well, that is grand. And magnificent. And downright splendid. (And so was my evening yesterday. At least for a few, blessed bright shining moments.)
If luxury means "the habitual indulgence in, or enjoyment of, comforts and pleasures in addition to those necessary" (and dictionary.com assures me that it does) then motherhood is indeed a luxury. Or at least it should be one. Because yes. The Land of Mom is full of so many basics: necessities, must-dos, essentials...but in addition to those is the opportunity- the frequent, regular, habitual opportunity- for indulgence in the pure pleasure of being with and soaking up the deliciousness of our kids.
So while I know I don't live in the lap of luxury in the typical sense (I think that would involve sleeping later than 7:20AM, and may even allow for a hot meal eaten with two hands once in a while...) I am blessed with the extravagant comfort and pleasure of a family, who if I'm open to it, I have the luxury of delighting in every (very early) morning, and every (very late) night.
Courtney is the mom of two wild animals disguised as tiny blonde girls. She's equally passionate about building authentic community and enjoying a nice Coke slushie. Bonus points for both at the same time. Connect with her on her blog, Bowdenisms or @Bowdenisms on instagram