I was so tired when I put together that post last night that I don’t think I even remembered how much that whole subject touches a nerve with me. But Jennifer and Steve’s comments refreshed my memory.
When I tell people that this next baby is a girl one of the more common comments I get is, “How great, you guys are all done then!” Ahem. No. But a more annoying offshoot of that comment is the thinking-aloud calculations of when I can go back to work. People know I’m “doing the stay-at-home-mommy thing” while my kids are little but, hey, in a couple of years this next little one will be ready for pre-school and — hallelujah! — I can finally get back to that cubicle and resume my life! Whew!
When I explain that I have no plans to get back to work I’m usually met with confused looks and furrowed brows. Oh…because I’m going to have more kids? Err, maybe I just don’t have any offers right now. Or, uhh, is it because…? For some reason it is totally inconceivable to most people that I just don’t want to go back to work. Even if for some reason I could not have more children, I’m still not going to polish up the old resume and jump back into the corporate world. I’m married and I want to be a housewife.
I’ve actually had to work quite a bit over the past year, something I just put a stop to a few weeks ago. My husband and I were still getting our business off the ground and I had to help pick up slack if it was going to work, so I worked from home as the webmaster, online marketing specialist, bookkeeper, HR manager and general jack-of-all-trades. As work goes, it was actually pretty fulfilling and fun. I hired a close friend of the family to act as a nanny for my son, then about a year old.
Most of my friends expressed envy that I had such an “ideal” situation — I could WORK, mostly from my house, and have flexible hours to boot. What more could a woman want in life? I was living the dream, I had it all!
I remember one day in January I was particularly swamped with work and knew I had a long week ahead of me. I’d just gotten off of a contentious phone call with a vendor and hit “Send/Receive” to find four new emails from our employees, all containing requests for me to do something “urgent.” I was tired. I walked into the kitchen to see our nanny, Maria, grilling up some lemon-herb chicken and veggies for her and my son to eat for lunch. They’d just gotten back from the park and looked refreshed and energized. After lunch they were going to read one of his new books about dinosaurs and then go explore the little greenbelt that runs through our neighborhood. I didn’t have time to eat with them, I had to get back to work.
As I shuffled back to my office I thought, “I’m outsourcing living!” I was working while paying someone else to live my life for me. What’s next?, I half-joked to myself, I’m going to pay Maria to go get a massage for me since I’m too busy? Maybe she could read that Groeschel book I’ve been meaning to get to and tell me if it’s as life-changing as everyone says it is.
I’d always thought that I didn’t want to work after I was a wife and a mother, and this experience proved that it sucked as much as I’d thought it would. When my husband came home that night we had a long talk and both agreed that it was time to change. No matter how financially painful, we had to hire someone to do the work that I had been doing.
And when I tell people of this new development they often assure me that this is just a temporary thing that we have to do while we have small children, that I will be able to safely return to the workforce and put that ‘ol education to good use again in no time at all. You’d think that I was telling people I was going to prison or something.
Sometimes I feel like I need to get a t-shirt, or maybe a forehead tattoo, that says “Dear World: Short of unforeseen financial tragedy, I am not going back to work. Ever. Get over it.” For the first time in my life I have the freedom to explore whatever interests me, read whatever books I want, try out little projects I’ve always been curious about, see the world in a whole new light through my children, and arrange my schedule however I’d like. For me, that’s priceless. No title or paycheck could ever replace that.
[I have actually written about this before. Here is an article I published elsewhere in 2003 on this issue (it’s aimed at a socially conservative audience). At the time I wasn’t even married but, now that I am, my opinions haven’t changed a bit.]
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