One of the saddest bi-products of our digital age is the prevalence of inflammatory prose. It’s everywhere we turn. Individuals tweet their opinions, blog blatantly, or post their statuses with impunity. Their words cut and maim and disillusion with complete apathy. Some individuals even profit from the sensationalizing of their bogus views through the hits the ads on their blogs receive each time someone checks out what they have to say. Television does the same as networks concoct “reality” situations to hook viewers who have to tune in just to see what those “real” people will get up to this time. We think we’re getting somewhere as a civilization when in reality we’re still showing up to watch the beheading/hanging/feeding of the lions for the cheap thrill it is. We can pat ourselves on the back for not being the victim/contestant/subject matter before our eyes. And it makes all of us a little less than what we should be.
Yesterday I let myself get a little incensed after reading a blog written in reaction to another blog that was truly offensive and obviously staged for effect. That made me angry. That anyone could put such words out into space knowing they were blatant untruths was painful. And then I disappointed in myself for falling straight into the trap. I found myself reading the offensive blog and felt ill. In wanting to see the cause of the all the upset I probably earned the woman a few dollars of revenue via her blog ads and that really hurts. So, as I explain I will not put a link to her site. She doesn’t deserve it. But I will share what she said.
“You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.”
Amy Glass, Thought Catalog, Jan. 15, 2014
Wow. You only have to take a look at history to see that exceptional married women with children are there in number. Marie Curie, Queen Victoria, Emily Murphy, shall I keep going? That anyone could write something so ridiculously self-absorbed and argumentative then publish it as their enlightened opinion is pitiful proof of the prostitution inherent in sensationalism. And our society seems to thrive on it. We sell our integrity, thoughts, private lives for attention and money. We want to be seen and talked about.
What exactly is exceptional? It’s the remarkable, the unusual, the noteworthy, the uncommon, the atypical, and the extraordinary. And in a world increasingly preaching the need for identity outside of marriage and motherhood, the choice to embrace motherhood and marriage in an exceptional way is gradually becoming all the more exceptional, especially when people are continually taking time to attack and deface it. Because we only attack and belittle the things we fear or don’t understand.
The very exceptional Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, wrote this in 1746:
“Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.”
I believe that with all my heart. It is part of the reason I chose to be a stay at home mother. I’m not a stupid person. I could have chosen to be anything if I wished. None of it really seemed worth the effort. So I got married and became a wife and mother. And every day I woke up and chose it again and again, and I was determined to do it as well as I could in the process. And while feeding, clothing, caring, teaching, laughing and loving may increasingly seem unexceptional to our society, the things I have learned and mastered along the way are definitely exceptional.
I learned you cannot force another human being to do anything without destroying part of your own humanity. I learned that yelling to get your way is selfish and lazy. I learned that words are some of the most powerful things we possess. I learned that children are entire worlds unto themselves. I learned that love is priceless and eternal. I learned that it’s easier to become your best self when your focus is on someone else’s well-being. I learned that joy cannot be bought or even engineered. It happens when we least expect it and surprises us every time, and we can miss it if we aren’t there when it occurs. I learned that when we try to be the best mother and wife possible, we usually become so much more than just a wife and mother. Parents acquire a multitude of skills by necessity during that journey and become truly exceptional, because a stay at home mother creates a single income family, and money is tight. You cannot afford to buy your solutions to everyday problems. You must teach yourself things that professionals pay other people to do. It doesn’t always come easily. But we learned as much from the failures as we did from the successes. And the amazing thing is that our children learned it at the same time. We took that journey of discovery together. And now that our children are all adults, they have the basic skills to find solutions to their own problems. That is rather exceptional.
I became a stay at home mother because I felt a sense of responsibility to these small people I had helped to create. I did not trust the world to do a competent job of teaching and nurturing them to their full potential. Deep inside that choice felt right. And I wanted my children to know it was completely possible to have a stable, loving, nuclear family with two committed parents – a mother and a father – in this world. I wanted them to know that their lives were worth taking 20+ years of mine to focus on their needs. I do not have a university degree or a high-profile career. But I can do a myriad of things very well and they bring me joy. And I do have an amazing family of incredible, gifted, talented people who make my soul sing. There are five other people on this planet whose lives I changed as they changed mine and that’s beyond exceptional.