Last week I had a conversation with my sister-in-law that has continued in my head. Of course, it didn’t continue in person because we were interrupted by children, but that’s another post.

So, we’re talking, or attempting to talk as I may have mentioned, and she tells me what she is learning since quitting work to stay home with her three children. She tells me that she used to take pride in her identity as a nurse, but now she is learning to take pride in just being herself. I answer, supportively I think at the time, that it is hard to value what our culture does not value. But inside I’m feeling grateful that I have a legitimate job, that I am a clinical psychologist with a Ph.D.

We don’t finish the conversation, as you may remember, and I’m left feeling confused. I notice that my ‘supportive’ response arose from a slight feeling of superiority, yet later I begin to feel that it is she, who doesn’t seem to need legitimacy, who is actually superior to me.

And it gets worse. I come to realize that actually I have nothing. There is nothing remotely legitimate or even romantic about a 47 year old mother who is trying to do something creative. At a recent dinner, my friend tells me that she is going to change her work schedule to be more available to her son in the evenings. I tell her I’ve cut back my psychology hours to make films…and blog. I feel like an idiot.

No. I take that all back. We don’t make value judgments, do we? It’s wrong. We just make different choices.

Different choices. Diversity. Tolerance. Curiosity.

I talk that talk, and even walk that walk on a good day, but sometimes my mind rages on, obedient to its conditioning–measuring, comparing, assessing, criticizing–quite symmetrical in its displeasure with self and other. Would that I could be free of it all!


4 thoughts on “Illegitimate

  1. UMOUM says:

    Well I think you’ve pretty much said it all, when you pointed to your appreciation of everyone’s individual choices. As to wanting to be free of it all—How can we possibly be free of our own humanness? Sure, it makes our life imperfect, but it also makes it forever interesting and challenging. And without those, where would we be?

  2. Unmartyred mom wannabe says:

    I can so relate to this entry! What is legitimate and what is illegitmate? And aren’t we all struggling to feel that what we do and what we choose is the “right” thing for ourselves and our children? I question these things on a daily basis and I love how you so succinctly described these feelings. And I don’t know if any of us can ever be completly free of it all. I think it’s just part of the process and is always changing on a daily basis and even from moment to moment. I’m just glad that I’m not alone in it all. Thanks for a great entry!

  3. PROUD Husband of the Unshackled, and Legitimate ONE! says:

    Oh boy!!! I had a strong reaction to the questioning as to whether it was legitimate or romantic that you are spending time as a film maker or as a psychologist, or as a mother for that matter.

    I think that, whatever we do, we have to be keenly aware that we serve as role models for our children, whether we like it or not. It is thrust upon us. So, the fact that our daughter sees her mother as an artist, I have pride in both wife, mother and child showing their unique artistic skills.

    The mother tells about her life as an actor, she sings in the house, she is off to dance class, and our daughter is in the school musical, pining for singing lessons, and life in the theater.

    The father goes off to marathons, and the daughter talks about how, one day, she will be a world class runner. Of course, that all changes when she gets the theater/artistic bug from Mom.

    But, you never know. Acting season is over this week, and summer track starts in two weeks.

    Whatever we do is legitimate because it adds to our child’s world of growing up. I can remember fondly of my mom’s gefilte fish, and our daughter can remember the artistic struggles of her mother, and it will mean a lot in the years to come.

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