Eight months after I wrote this post, I made a spur of the moment decision to finish my degree. I caved in to the fear that my husband’s income may not always be there, or be enough. I also have other interests to pursue personally. But in the absence of the fear of financial instability, this is still the life I would choose. I am thankful to be enjoying it in the now and hope to not need to rejoin the workforce till my youngest children are older.
After four months in the grind of what most American adults have to endure every day, to one degree or another, I have spent the last two months adjusting back to life at home as wife and mom. I have heard many titles and descriptions for what I do, and I don’t really like any of them, or the fact that people feel they have to make it sound more important than they think it is. My chosen profession, while the oldest known occupation for women, (no, not that other one), has in modern times fallen in value to most people, even to many of us who practice this art. We find it easy to believe the overwhelming message our culture sends us in countless ways, both blatant and subtle, that we are of less value, less intelligent, less desirable, and most certainly unqualified for any significant employment in the outside world. Even if we finished our formal education and have a framed degree on the wall, not having used it for many years won’t get us a great-paying career any time soon.
I usually leave my identity off most of my writing because I don’t want people to hear me through any filter they might have about my age, gender, or occupation (or lack of one in their eyes.) In a way it seems I have succumbed to the belief of being devalued, although on an intellectual level I say I reject this.
As a teenager, no one suggested I might find myself in an internal conflict about family and career. The message all around me, both in school and in the two-income families of all my friends (of those who had both parents at home) taught us that we could and SHOULD have it all, and be able to do it with excellence. Some women can, and I do really admire that. I am thankful for the choices, although the ability to make the choice between home and career is decidedly swinging out of favor for those who would wish to stay home instead. I have a choice to sacrifice – income, or precious time with my children. In all the miles I walked at work in those four months, my heart ached for what I was missing with them. Since I’ve quit, money has been tight and the stress has returned, but I wouldn’t trade back. As slim as our financial siutation stands, I do still have a choice. I know many mothers don’t. And some are better moms for being in the workplace. This isn’t a treatise on why I think ALL moms should stay home, because I don’t. I just wish it was easier to do so, and more respected.
I know what the working world is like. I’ve had 30 different paying jobs in my lifetime so far, since I began working at age 14. For those who are making a living doing something they truly love, living out their calling and passion, that’s a gift! I don’t know many women in the work world enjoying this situation. For me, the entire structure goes against the natural rhythms of life and nature . I live on an intuitive plane that finds it very hard to adapt to strict schedules and monotonous tasks. People believe housework is this way, but I find it much more rewarding than any repetitive task done in the workforce. Working 40 hours a week, I lose time and energy to nurture the things that matter most. I appreciate being home more than ever before and love the occupation of being fully human. I really believe both men and women were born to live a life this way – rather than being trapped into an economic system that requires most of your mind, body, and soul to survive; gifts we were all given for so much more. I am looking forward to the day that my husband can be as blessed as I am, and am immensely thankful he values my job as much as I do, so that I may be true to my heart and spirit.
One day when my family is grown and gone, I will decide what to fill my life with then. I know for certain I will never be bored. Life is too full of things to learn, do, and experience – and no matter where life takes you, people need love and nurture. What do we do when all the caregivers have to, or choose to work for a wage? We pay people who don’t care an even lower wage to fill the vacancy in day care centers, senior care centers, and group homes for the disabled. I have worked in all three capacities, and the callous treatment I’ve seen in each situation breaks my heart.
When my father-in-law had open heart surgery, when my 18-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery and chemo for months, when my daughter (a single mom with a baby) had emergency surgery, I was able to be fully there for all of them. I didn’t have to miss work, or lose an income, or be at work worrying how they were doing at home on their own. What exactly have we bought into as a culture?
In contrast to fluorescent lights, concrete floors, constant droning of machinery, striving for productivity measured by a computer, and sleeping while the beautiful sun is in the sky, I share these pictures of a few things that bring me joy. Just a few.