*Let me preface this op-ed with a disclaimer: I am NOT addressing those women that HAVE to go to work and earn a living. The greatest responsibility we have as parents is to hustle and make our situations work in the best interest of our children. If staying home is not an option, then take control and make your family proud*
“So, what do you do ALL day?!”
I swear to God, if ONE more person asks me that question…a donkey kick could be in their future.
Yes, we all know how very BUSY you are. What… you have a job, maybe a husband, a household to run and kids…of course you have the weight of the world on your shoulders (I never know how typed sarcasm comes off?!)? But why is your circumstance any more difficult than anyone else’s? Does the mere presence of a job outside of the home necessarily mean life is more difficult to navigate than not working outside of the home ? Don’t be so sure about that. You don’t have 3 appointments a week sometimes; you’re not fighting with pharmacies and insurance companies and hospital collections departments constantly; you’re not counting pills and prescriptions weekly; you’re not trying to keep an UBER clean home to ward off infections (and no, I don’t have a cleaning lady); you’re not incessantly emailing and/or calling your nurse practitioner/doctor at the first sign of a sniffle; you don’t have to keep reminding yourself to take your pills at 3 exact times throughout the day to keep your levels consistent; you don’t consider where you’re going, plan out what to eat all day, what pills not to forget every time you leave the house (even when you’re home); you don’t have to factor in a solid 20 minutes of down time where you can sit down and curl up into a ball to deal with agonizing pain EVERY morning after you take your morning meds (because they’re so toxic that they kill my GI tract); you don’t have to field peoples’ asinine questions about what your schedule looks like if you don’t ‘go to work’. Among other things, you just “don’t”. You wake up, get ready (and maybe a kid, or two, or 3) and off you go to work.
So yeah, to me, that sounds like a hell of a lot less stressful than my morning. I don’t assume you’re less valuable as a mother to your family because you go to work; just because I don’t bring home a paycheck is my mere existence immediately deemed less valuable? Some people value money, others value dedication to our children, yet while others value their own independence. Value is subjective. You may very well be much more valuable to your family than my role would be, but that’s specific to your circumstance.
You don’t need to say the words but I know you think I’m wasting my talents, my abilities, my intellect, my degrees, my strength by staying home. We’ve all read those “stop mommy guilt” articles and blogs. But it never seems to resonate. Obviously, every woman has an opinion about it and mine is specific to my own experiences but one is not superior to the other. You are not a better example for your children than I am to mine. Sorry, can’t buy the argument that you are. And in that same vein, I’m not in a better position than you. Our lives and our choices are subjective; what works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for the other.
So why can’t we accept ourselves and in turn, support each other in the decisions we make rather than step on others as we try to do what’s best? I’m trying to make the best decisions for not just myself, but my family too. Just like my husband does; he doesn’t make decisions that are solely in his best interest. He’s not selfish (more to come on what type of man I married…let’s just hope you catch me on a good day though!). That’s the great thing about being in a ‘family’ – we are a unit. And the 3 of us LOVE the way this dynamic works for us, right now. Who knows? That may change. As our son gets older and our circumstances change, I may seek to take on other ventures and guess what? THAT’S OK TOO! Of course, I’ll continue to keep my attorney licensing current and up to date. In fact (cue the hypocrite claims), I’d like to take on some different responsibilities at some point. And of course my family dynamic will change. I’m not apologizing for my vantage point here: being a ‘feminist’ and championing women’s rights doesn’t mean you can be everything at the same time. My husband can’t be everything at the same time so why do we put such pressure on ourselves? I can’t be the best attorney, best mom, best volunteer, best patient advocate all at the same time. And neither can you. See, the thing about time is that it’s finite. There are only 24 hours in a day. So, if I start working then by simple calculation if I have to be somewhere between 8am and 5pm, then I can’t bring my son to his basketball lessons (yes, I’m that crazy, cheering mom and he LOVES it!). End of story. I’m not a worse mom because of it but I’d be a different mom. That’s it. And as for right now, I don’t want to miss those moments. I don’t. I want to be available for field trips and go the extra mile planning his party. I want to be the one who drops him off and picks him up. Me. And the fact that I made those decisions and my husband supports me and encourages me to do what makes me happy means I’m the ultimate feminist.
Here’s what I do know:
I’ve, literally, been on my deathbed multiple times in a few short years. Not one of those times did I ever think ‘God, I wish I had more time to go to work. I wish I had dedicated more time in my life to the office and cultivating a career.’ Not once.
What I did wish for though:
‘God, please give me more time with my baby. Please don’t take his mother away from him. I need to play outside, I need to volunteer at his school. I need to cheer and yell and scream and cry at ALL of his games. I need to be the one who raises him. He needs it too. Please God. Please God.’ Begging, crying, on my knees, day in and day out for weeks at a time to get the opportunity to raise my son. So I don’t take this for granted. It’s an honor to have been able to stay home and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
So, yeah, I think I’m an excellent example for my kid. And for anyone else who doesn’t feel like explaining what our day could possibly consist of if we don’t bring home a paycheck too. I’ve learned that those who judge me for the decisions I make aren’t happy with the ones they’ve made (be it guilt, envy…whatever). I’d prefer to stand up and assert every woman’s right to make their own decisions so if you’d knock me for it, please take it elsewhere ’cause this mom is good with her decision. Real good. That said, if there’s anyone willing to offer a fabulous out-of-work attorney a job… HA!
When I lay down at night, I smile because I’m right where I want to be and I just soak it all in….and breathe.