My three beautiful children were born within a five year period during the 1980s. It was just a short decade prior when the Equal Rights Amendment was passed. During the 90s, ERA really took hold and was tested in the macro. There was a social expectation that unless you were religiously motivated to stay home with your kids you were to develop a career outside the home.
I was living in Oklahoma where the spanking with a paddle or paddling of children was readily accepted and supported in the public school systems. Daycare was a relatively new concept. I had no intention of handing over my children to a scenario like that, offering them up for potential physical abuse. I loved my full-time 24/7 job of cultivating three of the most brilliant human beings walking Earth. Home-schooling groups were very popular and well organized. Although short lived, it was quite conducive to our young family travel adventures. It was experiential learning at its finest.
People are different in the Southwest. It took some time for me to understand that heels were really hills and INsurance was actually insurance – my favorite expressions: if you were sick you were feeling ‘puny’ and if a ‘twister’ was in the vicinity you went into your ‘fraidy hole’ (aka storm shelter). Not only do they all have accents there but they are vigilant in their faith and will interrogate your religious beliefs before they allow their children to play with yours. I was in the buckle of the Bible belt, downtown tornado alley.
I’m a New Englander but I speak modified Pennsylvania. I do not subscribe to any particular religion. I was out of my element for sure. Slipping under the scrutiny fence I was fortunate enough to have been in that culture. No one there questioned my motives for staying home with my kids. It was a totally different story upon returning home several years later.
It’s tough to put ‘motherhood’ on a resume and expect to be hired for a professional position. Sure, there is plenty of work in the care-taking field but unless you are a close friend or family member that needs my help, I don’t do poop. As my family grew I worked party plans and temp jobs. I’ve worked in over twenty organizations both in the corporate world and academia but my kids always came first. In the 80s, 90s and even the early 2000s, that was not cool.
People and our environment are always reflecting back to us where we’re at in our own focus of thought. For years I allowed and felt condescension and the demeaning of my station. I was trained into the thinking that my information was just too out there. Hanging on to that idea turned into a belief and that belief inhibited my ability to freely express myself and enjoy my businesses. And, most importantly, it never felt good. Contrary to my natural state I became introverted and worked hard to fly under the proverbial radar.
Everything always works out for me and now I know better. Becoming reacquainted with meditation, dawn began to break over marble head. Some call it ‘clarity’. And then to infuse the body with Prana/life force/breath through Yoga – Divine. Here we are thirty years later and the idea of staying home with one’s children is being embraced, accepted and encouraged. Those who do choose to work are in a much better position to do so. Culturally, we’ve come a long way. No more burning at the stake. My beliefs have shifted too and I’m realizing that people really do want to hear about what I have to offer. How refreshing! My business is beginning to thrive and best of all, I’m free! I am profoundly grateful for all of it. I Am, the Closet Academic.