There seems to be much debate these days about the pros and cons of being either a working or stay at home mum. Googling the topic will bring up thousands of articles and blogs all fighting for their say on the topic. Some are downright obnoxious. Others written with great intention. Many points of view seem to be lined with resentment and a need to convey, in details, their reasons behind their choices. I’ve got to admit these articles grind my gears. People please, could we all possibly just do what’s right for us and let everyone else do the same? Yes our opinion matters. Yes we have the right to our opinions but do we have the right to hurt others whilst exercising this right? Mmmmmm probably not.
The amount of times I’ve found myself withdrawing from a conversation when these discussions arise; I appreciate that this is a terribly hard choice for some and the reasons for their choices all differ and are completely valid. Being the imperfect human that I am, I must admit, I do find myself being overcome with a combination of both jealously and annoyance whenever I’m forced to listen to such complaints. I want to yell “how blessed you are to have a choice!” I know it’s all relative and please don’t write me hate mail! I know this is a touchy subject for mums… to work or not to work? I’d just like to shine a light on a perspective you might not have thought of. That is, those of us (not just mums) but many of us who have not had the luxury of that choice.
One of my most dreaded moments is that ‘question.’ Especially now my boys are older and my answer is judged way more harshly. My hubby is a business man and I am often required to attend functions and dinners that are filled with amazing go getting high achievers; whom in the company of I must admit I feel incredibly inferior to. Not only do these events use up so many of my coins but then there’s the number one dreaded question that EVERYBODY asks “So do you work in the business with your husband?” “No I don’t.” “Oh so what do you do for work?” I can hardly answer with the truth can I? I have contemplated making something up, a fabulous profession that would leave people in awe of me. I’m a terrible liar though. So I find It’s just easier to go with “I’m a mum” and then to painfully watch as their whole demeanour changes from that of enthusiasm to an uncomfortably long silence as they struggle to find a response. These responses vary from “oh lucky you!” “I wish I could stay at home.” “Don’t you get bored?” “What do you do all day?” These days I get “oh your boys are almost grown. When do you think you’ll get back to work?” Now that I’m studying part time it’s really taken the pressure off. If I say I’m studying then people are usually happy with that and leave me alone.
Little do they know I loathe the fact I’m reliant on my husband for paying the bills. I yearn to have a job and often daydream whilst looking through employment websites for job vacancies. It’s been tough surviving on one income, very tough at times, as not only am I not working but our medical expenses have replaced holidays many a year. I know I have so much to be grateful for and I am so completely blessed to have the husband I do. He has never complained that the financial burden is all on him, never, not once! He is a man of amazing strength and honour. I love him to bits. (Yeah I know it’s soppy and sickening. Some of you may even be eye rolling with disdain because you can’t stand your spouse today – that’s ok. Trust me, I’ve gone through mountains of crap to finally get to this marital happy place… so please give me some leeway)
I understand that this is not the case for everyone. Those of you single mums out there, well I can’t even imagine. I guess I just want to hug you. I wish there was more help for you and I’m sorry it’s so tough for you. My heart is to create a little awareness that there’s often more to people’s story than meets the eye. It would be so great if we could all think before we spoke. Take some thought for those friends of yours who may suffer chronic illness and get to ‘stay at home’ all day, but not by choice. Please be kind.
I’ve gone home many times in tears from uneducated insensitive comments. One that comes to mind is that at a family function. I was so ill this particular day and really had to suck it up just to attend, knowing that I was eating into coins I didn’t really have and so I was dreading the days of payback that might follow. Whilst at the party my kid’s came up to me and asked for some money to go buy ice-cream. I asked how much they needed. Before I could reply, someone whom I really love a lot, spoke up and stated to my teenage boys, “Of course you can. You know it’s not mum’s money anyway. We all know she’s a kept woman.” I went home and cried and cried.
This very subject came up the other day when I was catching up with a gorgeous friend of mine, who is also a health warrior and she too struggles with ‘that dreaded question.’ She told me of a guy she knew who instead of using the common place greeting of ‘Hi, what is it that you do for work.’ He instead asks ‘Hi, What is it that you love.’ This thrilled my heart. Oh how wonderful it would be if we all took the time to find out what each of us ‘loved’ to do, rather than equate who we are by what we do to earn money. For some of you your job might be what you love, that’s fabulous, really fabulous. But it’s not the case for all of us. So please ‘keep in mind’ those of us who wish we were like you, with choices to work or not to work, but for now we are not. Maybe eventually our world will become a place where we can feel comfortable to answer honestly and to know that our uncomfortable answers will be met with kindness not judgement. So next time your introduced to someone I dare you to ask, “What is it you love to do” and to meet their reply, whatever it might be, not by patronising them but instead with acceptance, kindness and love.