My husband and I celebrated twenty-nine years of marriage this week. He has always been the breadwinner. I’ve always been the wife and mom who (sometimes) stays home. When I was very young, my goals included those two things: get married, have a family. Even for my day, I was pretty old-fashioned. Today, I suppose I’m even more antiquated in my ways, depending on what tribe you hang with and talk to most.
It’s rare to find women who are solely dedicated to domesticity and the rearing of their families. Even those who “stay home” are very often running some kind of side business to supplement their husband’s income. I’m convinced this is partly due to a desire to work and be otherwise “fulfilled”, and partly due to a true financial need.
My point today is not to say that working outside the home is wrong, working part-time inside the home is wrong, or that being a full time wife and mom is best. My point is only that I often sit back and watch the unhappiness of the American woman and wonder why. Why are they so angry, unhappy, so willing to put themselves out there in embarrassing ways by burning bras or sporting vagina hats and costumes while spewing hateful rhetoric? Especially while I quietly work in my humble abode, cooking, washing dishes, laundering, paying bills, nursing loved ones back to health, babysitting grandkids, mopping floors, sewing a grandchild a new doll, sweeping out the garage, watering the lawn, getting groceries, running to the bank, or many other duties that make up the “job” of what some unknowing, inarticulate person dubbed “being a stay at home mom.”
It would seem those unhappy women and I are living in two different worlds. But no. We are all Americans, living under the same system.
I constantly get asked what I do for a living, and when I say “I don’t work outside the home” (because I don’t know how else to say it) in return I always hear “oh yeah, that’s cool”, as if maybe I’ve a need to be validated – or something.
Well, I don’t have that need. Not anymore. There was a time I did, when I was young. Though determined to follow my childhood dreams of being a mom and wife, I had periods of doubt and uncertainty as to whether being up to my eyeballs in never-ending chores was my “true calling.” Those times of doubt hit hardest when I was tired or sick or both, and I just wanted a vacation in Hawaii and to be able to sit on the commode in peace for goodness sake. But now that I’ve raised three wee ones, I can look back and say I did what I was called to, and it was worth every sleepless night, every dirty diaper, every snotty nose, every bout of cleaning up the contents of sick stomachs, every desperate prayer uttered to God to save three children’s souls from Hell, their minds from the trickery of the Devil, the world, or their own wickedness, and their bodies from illness or injury. At times, I prayed all of that at once because things were that desperate. And I guess I look back on the last twenty-nine years of marriage and twenty-eight of being a parent, and I honestly feel satisfied. Not because it was easy or always rewarding and glamorous, but because I know I’ve been used by God to make a difference in the lives of my husband and children.I don’t know any other lifestyle I could live to make me feel more fulfilled. It hasn’t been glamorous, depending on what one means by “glamorous.” I’m sure it hasn’t been as successful, monetarily speaking, as it would have been had we decided to put the kids in daycare, and hire a cook and maid with the proceeds of me bringin’ home the bacon, fryin’ it up in a pan, and never letting the hubs forget he’s a man.
But it has been good.
I trust it will continue to be good, because I’m not going anywhere. Our plan was always for me to stay home until the children were grown, and then I would work and we would save up for retirement with my paycheck. But lo and behold, chronic illness struck me, and periodic illness strikes my husband. So … we are hobbling our way to retirement. I believe we will make it, and that belief stems from twenty-nine years of watching God take care of us in our weaknesses, while also working as hard as we can to provide what we can.
We are grateful to be able to live near all three of our children, all six grandchildren, and also my Mom, who will live with us until her last day on earth. To be honest, my domestic duties haven’t slowed down. I never get a to-do list accomplished for the day, because the saying rings true: a woman’s work is never done. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. If one kid doesn’t need something, the other does. And on the rare occasion that none of the kids need anything, Mom or husband pipe up with a request. At times, they all need something, which is when I tell some of them to go away (haha). Or wait their turn.
Well, I’ve been interrupted five times by one child, a husband, and an important business phone call during the penning of this blog. And now, kitchen duty calls, So onward and upward I go in my calling, with a glad heart, convinced that though the domestic road be treacherous at times, the journey ends having lived a life well, in denial of self, and in service to others.