Did you read this piece yet today? It's another defense of stay-at-home-motherhood that plays nice about both sides, for the most part, and urges us to reconsider this rising notion of a one-income family as a luxury. It fired me up. The comments really fired me up. And I'm excited to dig in.
For the 10% of my audience who isn't actually family or friends, I want to start by saying that I've been both a working woman and a SAHM. For the purpose of making this short and to the point, I'll skip the whole argument that we all work and that the terms themselves are far too simplistic. They are what they are though. I dropped my kid off at day care for three years. And now I've been home for almost two years marking off the days as my own boss and changing a lot of outfits that were soiled by snot and pb&js.
This is all to say, I now have strong opinions when I read these blog pieces with impassioned women and men who want us all to know, to understand what it really is like, "working" or not. The ones that make me cringe are the ones that are defensive. One retorting back an eloquent response to the offensive comment made in the grocery store. One spouting back the real life schedule that displays how draining it is to be at home. That angle in today's piece (really, if you haven't read it, go read that first) wherein the writer wants us to truly see that she sees essentials and values where someone else might quickly label those things as luxuries.
Man, we all sound a bit whiny don't we? In an effort to make ourselves be known, to be seen, I think a lot of us come off sounding a lot like a little kid: "You guys. It's so hard. It's so hard!!!"
I've done both for enough time to know. They are both difficult in very different ways. They also both have perks in very different ways. And I am not the woman to read if you are looking for someone 100% convinced that one way is better than the other. In fact, I think that's a bunch of malarky. I really do. Here's what I hope I am here for: Encouragement. And I'm going to try my best to give you some today. You up for that?
YOU, my friend or sister or previous co-worker or far away Internet friend, YOU do whatever you do. You stay at home. You work part time. You work full-time. You stayed at home but now you work. You worked but now you stay at home. Whatever it is, you are here. HERE is where we start.
And here, you have difficulties and perks. We already agreed on that above. (Okay, I said that & you probably agreed). You have days that are long because you balance so many needs in your life. Your need to love on your family. Your need to provide financially (and not just in a paycheck sense). Your need to thrive as YOU. Your need to feel security, to find peace, to be free!
Some days really are hard. I've been there, girl, more times than I can count. I have literally hung my head and cried. I have asked myself what in the world I was doing and where I was going and if I was ever going to make it there. Not only have a hung my head and cried. I've woken up just to cry too. More than once. Mothers hardly get sleep anyway. Sometimes I don't cry. I call on Jesus. And it looks like this:
Two nights ago my 5 year old was angrily reading at the table, furious my attention was not 100% directed on him. I offered affirmations that I could hear him as one of my twins flung dinner, beans and rice, and the other was sobbing about something I couldn't begin to figure out. My husband is traveling this week, so in the absence of our one-glance camaradarie I just stood up from my chair, leaned onto the table where kid chaos was bubbling up to a crescendo and I said, Jesus, I know you see this.
I did the same kind of thing when I was working though too. When I forgot to bring shoes to day care for Thomas. When I got yet another call that I needed to leave work for my sick kid. When I was so tired that I embarked on a game of testing my body's limits to digest coffee.
But things being difficult is actually not at all what I want you to know today. We already know there are difficult things about life. Let's put on our big girl pants and deal. And then also laugh about it with a friend from time to time. (Tears are fine too.)
So what am I getting at? It's this.
There's one thing you should know about your choice, decision, or commitment to either work or be at home and it's just two words. I was just trying to be helpful. We already have enough to remember. Here it is.
Own it, girl.
I know the writer of the article I linked to wanted to argue that we are calling the wrong things luxuries, and to that point I want to laugh. Heck yes, SAHMs have luxuries. Are you kidding me? Imagine this hypothetical scenario. No one is allowed the option to stay home with their kids. We are on literal lock-down. All the peoples work. No choice. It's automatic. Then, bam. You can. You can nap if you need to. You can walk over to your coffee pot and make more coffee. You can be your own boss. You can snuggle your kids ALL DAY if you want. You can read for hours to your kids. You can, and I've done this, shaved parmesan cheese onto your lunch. (Okay, yes, you can do that at work too, but it's just so darn convenient at home.)
Before you start throwing things at me, don't. I'm NOT picking sides. I'm just saying this. We have little luxuries, all of us. You want to call them perks, call them perks. Let's not argue semantics. Let's just all agree that there are VERY GOOD and AMAZING things when you work and also when you stay at home.
Working women, I think of you gravely, jealousy when I go to the bathroom and all three of my kids are right outside my door. Usually banging.
This is where I want to lovingly grab you by the shoulders and say OWN IT, to shout it happily with you.
You owe NO ONE an explanation, a defense, a list of reasons, of examples, of excuses. You do what you do because you and your husband decided that it is best for your family. You need to own the good things too. You can afford a bigger house? That is awesome! You get time with your littles? Yay! You have extreme peace because by you and your husband both contributing financially you have thisstinkingclose to having your house paid off. That is incredible!
You need to OWN the perks, the luxuries, because they really, really are there. Be grateful. Acknowledge blessings. And be proud. Hold your head up high. Choose joy in seeing all the good that is sprinkled throughout your day because of how you are specifically providing.
In all seriousness, you need to own the good for another reason. You need to own it because you will have to own the consequences as well. Sitting down at an interview with no experience for five or fifteen years. Calculating what you need for retirement and realizing starkly how short you've come up. Saying goodbye to a loved one and wondering if your time really was spent as it should have been.
When we expend our energy in convincing others that they should see that what we do is good, we all too often usurp energy that would be better spent in fully owning the choices we've made.
We don't get to be all things and dang if that doesn't frustrate me sometimes. I'm sure as sugar missing out by staying at home right now. I'm not oblivious to that in any way whatsoever. I own it. I see it. I acknowledge it. But I also am united with Paul in what we need to do for our family right now and I am happy to be doing that, perks and poopy diapers and all.
Can I urge you not to feel shame, ladies? Don't let all this defensive noise about stay-at-home-motherhood or working roles make you question what you do. You know what you value, you know what you want, and you know how to love on your family. Go after it. Be happy about it!
When someone hints patronizingly that you have the luxury to have a really nice car or to stay at home tickling your kids, you should smile and think to yourself Heck yes, I do!