When my husband and I moved two years ago, we decided that I was going to take a step back in my professional life. In Miami, I had been constantly working and/or stressed – I rarely had a chance to enjoy other aspects of my life. While I miss working in football, it was the right decision.
Since we moved for Eric’s job, we realized that I would be unemployed for a couple months. I cannot believe the negative reactions I received from people, especially women, when I told them I was not working but looking. I was being judged for not having a super-planned career trajectory. I found a job about three months after we moved, which really wasn’t too bad.
Now, I have a part-time jobs (work 25-30 hours per week but no benefits) that is rewarding but not all-consuming. For the most part, I can set my own schedule and take time off as needed. I’ve been able to go to England, Las Vegas, Chicago, Florida, and visit my family in Michigan as I please. I’ve been able to schedule doctor’s appointments and car service without feeling like the world was going to end because I wasn’t at work. I feel that I’m living life “in the moment” and have even been able to pursue some hobbies, such as blogging, exercising, and joining the Richard III Society. I can enjoy a night out with my husband without having to worry about my “golden handcuffs” a.k.a. cell phone.
Still, I am given a hard time for not working full-time outside the home. I am not the torchbearer for the women’s rights movement. Don’t judge me because I value my life outside of work more than a career. After having it both ways, I prefer to be married to my husband rather than my job. I am happiest when I am spending time with Eric or my family and understand that I am blessed to live this life. (P.S. I don’t just sit on my butt when I get home – there’s laundry, cooking, cleaning, car service, bills to pay and home maintenance to do. This arrangement really helps my overworked husband because it would never get done otherwise).
Almost two years later, I am still asked what my career goals are. When I respond that I’m content with the way my life is and my ultimate goal is to start a family, I have been met with more than a few sideways glances. Anyone close to me knows that it is my intention to be a stay-at-home mom when the time comes. That is why we’ve waited a little longer to have kids. I cannot believe the venom I have heard against stay-at-home moms (ironically, from people who were raised by good stay-at-home moms). Again, I am not obligated as a woman to have a fancy career. This is my choice along with my husband. Don’t tell me I’ll be “bored” or “regret it.” Don’t tell me that I will “lose a piece of myself” or I could “do so much more.” “You can always go back,” I am often told. Am I a failure if I don’t!?!? People who say these kinds of things generally don’t know me. Just because they would be bored or unfulfilled doesn’t mean I will be. Maybe this is what will make me happy and is best for our family.
As I was preparing this post, I came across this from BuzzFeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mikespohr/things-you-should-never-say-to-a-stay-at-home-parent. My favorite comments are “do you ever think you’ll get a real job?” and “don’t you wish you had your own money?” First, being a parent is a job, and it one of the most important ones a person can have. Unlike “real jobs,” you can’t call in sick or have a vacation from being a parent. Secondly, marriage is a partnership and my role as a stay-at-home mother (you can also insert stay-at-home dads anywhere in this entry – they probably really get it) will be just as important as my husband’s role as the breadwinner. My husband will be able to work hard with the peace of mind that his child(ren) are well cared for by me. It’s OUR money.
Trust me, we’ve thought long and hard about this decision, and it makes sense for us. It’s a personal choice for OUR family. Not to justify myself, but stay-at-home moms are quite valuable, with an estimate worth of $113,000. In addition to childcare, stay-at-home moms cook, clean, chauffeur, pay bills, do laundry, and manage the household.
I’m not trying to start a debate about working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. I’m just really tired that my family’s decision is being met with disdain by some. I fully realize that some women need to work to make ends meet. It is wonderful for women who chose to (or have to) work who are also satisfied with their careers. There are also some women who are so fulfilled by their careers that they don’t necessarily want a family – that’s okay, too. Instead of tearing each other down for the personal decisions we make, let’s support one another. Don’t force your values on me, and I won’t force my values on you.