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I’m a stay-at-home mom, and recently I was at a small family get together when someone said, “Women need a career to hold on to.” I turned to my husband and sarcastically said, “I’m happy holding on to your career.”
That’s when everyone got all uncomfortable and said, “No, no, what you do is so important too, I don’t know how you do it, blah, blah, blah.” And I just laughed it off and told them I was kidding and we all changed the subject.
I don’t believe that anyone needs a career to hold on to. I mean, we all need sources of income, but your sense of self-worth doesn’t need to rely on it. Your career isn’t always going to be the fire and fury that fills you with exuberance. Some people are lucky enough to have careers that they are passionate about. I’m really happy for those people. But that’s not always going to be the case. What people need are passions. People need something that makes them feel fulfilled. People need something to look forward to. People need to feel like they are good at something. If that happens to be your career, well buddy, you’ve got it made. But sometimes it’s just going to be a hobby, or maybe it will be a person (or people).
I don’t have a career. But I have my fire and fury. My fire and fury are my children. They grow and change every single day and they’re amazing. I must be doing something right because they are incredible little kids. But I can only take some of the credit. They’re their own people. They make their own minds up about their interests and their dislikes and how to deal with certain situations.
And then I have my writing. Maybe one day it will be my career, but I just consider it to be something that I love to do. It’s my hobby. And I can spend any amount of time I want on it at any given time. Because I have that freedom.
But I don’t have as much freedom as some people may think. People that don’t live it just don’t believe that taking care of a household is a ridiculous amount of work. They think, “It must be nice to sit in your pajamas all day doing nothing.” No, honey. Three lives depend on me at all times. I have to keep three living, breathing, existing things alive at all times. It’s all on me! And then I have to clean, and cook, and take care of myself, and buy groceries and fix things and the list goes on and on. It’s a lot of work! I don’t get breaks. I don’t get sick days. But I love it. I feel fulfilled. Sometimes I have my meltdowns (like any person has in any profession or non-profession) but then I straighten myself out and look around and think, wow. I did all of this. This is amazing. I’m amazing. And there is no better feeling than that!
But I have to admit, I’m getting really tired of people insinuating that staying home with three kids isn’t enough to “hold on to.” I’m tired of people asking, “So what do you do?” And then when I tell them I’m a stay-at-home mom, they say, “So when do you plan on working again?” Do people really not see why that’s kind of obnoxious? What if I was like “Oh, you’re a teacher? Awesome! What job do you plan on getting next?” I know that’s not completely the same thing but, on some level, it kind of is.
Recently, I met a man, and someone asked him what he did for a living. He sheepishly said, “I work at Costco.” To which I responded, “That’s awesome! I love Costco! I want to work at Costco.” But then he felt like he quickly needed to explain that it’s not his forever career, and that he is trying to get into sports journalism, which is really cool too but I didn’t think he needed to explain that to me. But obviously, somewhere along the line, someone made him feel ashamed about where he is in life.
We don’t need to be ashamed of what we’re doing. We don’t need to offer any explanations to anyone about our futures. So long as we’re doing the best we can and we’re happy, that’s enough to feel proud about. We all have different roles and different paths in this thing called life and we need to embrace it. And we also need to encourage people for doing what they do instead of making them feel like what they do isn’t enough. It is enough.
Eventually, I will “get a real job.” When my kids are older and in school and I don’t have as much to do at home, I’ll need something to keep me occupied. But right now, though I don’t have a “job,” I work. I work my ass off. And I have that to hold on to.