Disclaimer: This post is NOT intended for the many women who have to work outside the home. Nor is it meant for women who love to work outside the home and have zero problems doing it. Work it, girl.
Recently, I had a coffee date conversation with a friend that left me a little frustrated, not at her and not at our spouses, but over the general way both men AND women have come to view wives and mothers.
Sorry-not-sorry, I feel my generation has created an absolute debacle out of two of the most important titles on Earth.
We have allowed ourselves to buy into a false belief that women can and will do everything: work endless hours at an awesome career, raise perfect children who excel at life, volunteer their time to others, dote on their husbands, keep a perfect home.
What’s worse is that we’ve even bought into the lie that women will do all of the above in designer clothing, with abs of steel, perfect make-up, and a smile across our face as we cash a $100,000 paycheck.
The only place I’ve seen this woman is on television. And she usually comes with a closet drug-habit and a side-guy her husband finds out about in Season 3.
What I see when real-life women get saddled with a full time job, the house, and the kids—AND they’re expected to dress perfectly, make a fortune, and keep a magazine-worthy home?
They grow resentful. They grow angry.
They grow bitter.
Disclaimer #2: This is only MY opinion. It may not be your experience, thought or opinion.
Here’s the thing: Most of us go into marriage and motherhood believing it will be completely different than every other woman’s experience with marriage and motherhood.
Somehow ours will be so much better, much more pleasant, full of rainbows and sunshine and a neverending pot of gold.
We think if we want to stay home we’ll be able to, and if we want to work we’ll balance it all just fine.
We think our marriage will sustain itself, our kids will be perfect, and every other part of our life will magically fall into place.
And then some of us get here and start to question and maybe even regret all kinds of decisions we’ve made regarding our career paths.
We may feel trapped into employment because of the lofty degree we hold that comes with the insane student loan payment.
We may be the primary breadwinner or are afraid we won’t find employment if we take a few years off. (That’s actually a very legitimate concern that I don’t have time to fuss about in this blog post.)
Maybe some women think they can’t justify staying home because their children are in school full time. What would they do all day? (I could give you a list of a thousand things I do, but I get your point.)
And maybe—just maybe—they love their jobs BUT feel guilty for not being home.
After all, some stay at home moms can be VERY judgmental about women who choose to work outside the home. (Just so you know, I’m not one of them. I don’t even consider myself a stay at home mom because that implies I have a job that revolves around my children.)
Let me speak to the women who feel guilty first:
Do NOT feel guilty.
Women are so blessed to be able to work. Did you know that even as late as the 1970’s some employers were barred from hiring married women? How crazy is that?
I have mountains of respect for women who pull off careers/motherhood/marriage and do it half-way decently.
However, I can’t tell you how often I encounter women who chose to aim high career-wise, yet are surprised at how hard it is to balance full time employment with being a wife, keeping a house, setting up childcare, dealing with family stuff, etc. etc.
Many times frustration occurs because, while their husbands LOVE that extra paycheck coming in, they don’t always want to do equal amounts of household and child-raising chores that in years past were held traditionally by women.
Heads up, guys. In years past women did those chores because women weren’t working outside the home. Duh.
Women weren’t waking up at the crack of dawn just to get a little quiet time before they had to get the kids up for school, AND get dressed for work, AND deal with a full time job, AND grab kids from school/daycare, AND come home and do all the dinner and bedtime chores, AND use the weekends to do whatever odds and ends they missed during the week, AND try to squeeze in a second of loving their spouses while simultaneously entertaining children who can’t be outdoors alone anymore.
Is it any wonder studies show women are less happy than men with each passing decade?
Because my husband grew up in a family where his mother and father had traditional roles, he subconsciously expected the same, whether or not I worked outside the home.
So, when I worked full time, I found that I was still doing almost 100% of the house/child tasks as well.
Not that Clayford wouldn’t help if asked but let’s be honest, asking your husband to help kind of makes you want to hit him in the face with a chair, right?
You’re like, Can you not SEE what is going on here?!? Do you not GET what needs to be done?!?
Be gentle with them, ladies. I speak from experience: Some. Husbands. Do. Not. Get. It. As much as we want to blur the gender lines these days, that pesky biology continues to rear its ugly head.
My advice if you have to work or want a career but don’t want to be stuck with all the responsibility at home:
- If you don’t have children yet, have the talk ASAP. And then have it again and again and again, and once you have kids, immediately begin to divide chores, etc. Without a clear understanding, some men will assume you’re good to do it all. And then you might hit them in the face with a chair. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- If you already have children and/or you’ve already hit your husband in the face or are seriously considering it, have a Come to Jesus. Carry that man to the Cross and lay him directly in front of it and tell him EXACTLY how you need life to be from this point forward.
Now this is where the talk gets difficult.
When asked how I manage to stay home with four kids, the number one comment that bothers me comes from women who tell me they would ‘love to stay home, but can’t.’
Could you stay home?
I mean for some of us that’s the real question. Not if we want to but if we could afford to.
If you are paying for private school, a couple of brand new luxury SUVs, a house in the nicest suburb of Wherever, U.S.A., a golf club/gym/pool membership, and numerous travel ball teams, cheer squads, and piano lessons, then no, you probably won’t be able to stay home.
If you pile on top of that $300 jeans, a maid, a sitter, and all the boutique children’s clothing money can buy, then no, you probably won’t be able to stay home.
If you eat out often, yet spend a whopping $250 a week at the Krogers, then no, you probably won’t be able to stay home.
And in addition to some/all of the above, if you have loans and bills galore–cell phone, cable, etc.–then no, you probably won’t be able to stay home.
(On a side note, if you see someone who has all of the above and DOES stay home, assume one of three things: Her husband makes a boatload of cash—like abnormal amounts; her family has a history of trust funds or inheritance; or they are in some serious eyeball-high debt.)
The other question is whether or not your husband is willing to allow you to stay home. If this was even remotely a thought at my house, my husband would be smacked in the face with a chair before he ever used the word allow again.
But I realize some husbands are just that way. I could say something about that, but instead I’ll list the ways we as women may have unknowingly bred a spirit of hesitancy in our spouses towards our staying home:
- If you stayed home in the past and loafed in your pj’s all day, there’s probably a reason for your hubby’s hesitancy. (And I don’t mean right after giving birth or while raising those creatures we call toddlers. Honey, wear those pj’s proud. You deserve it.)
- If you want to stay home but have a monthly discretionary spending bill of $500 (another word for discretionary is Target), there’s probably a reason for his hesitancy.
- If you have a family of four but see nothing wrong with spending $1500 a month at the grocery store and eating out for the same amount, there’s probably a reason for his hesitancy.
I’m in no way judging the above examples. Hey, my dream life is to sit around all day drinking wine, reading home and garden magazines, and watching Dr. Phil.
I’m just saying that sacrifices come with being married and having children anyway, and being a one-income family in a world of two-income families only makes the sacrifices bigger.
I don’t live out this housewife thing perfectly, and to say my husband and I haven’t struggled financially along the journey would be a flat-out lie.
But these are a couple of things that have helped us along the way. If you are struggling financially or pondering whether you could live off one income, they might help you, too:
- I can’t think of the last time I bought anything full-price. If it didn’t come from TJ Maxx or a clearance rack, there’s a good chance it didn’t go on my body. And there are no daily shopping sprees for this gal. Not even close. Never have been.
- I clip coupons. I run into any and everybody at the Krogers (and always looking ratchet, btw), and there I am, my little orange coupon holder in hand, digging for my $1 off on Folgers. (Is coffee made of crack? Why is it so expensive?)
- I’ve accepted that there won’t be new cars every two years or a perfectly decorated or landscaped home. I’ve learned to replace experiences for things, and the time spent not dwelling on what I don’t have has opened up room for being grateful for what I do have.
Some of you will find that because of what you need to have, want to have, or would like for your children to have, a full-time job is simply a necessity. No judgment here. None whatsoever. Been there.
Others will find that with some sacrifice you can stay home and also want to. I hope that works out too.
My advice either way is to accept what you can’t change and change what you can.
And try really hard not to hit your husband in the face with a chair.
That’s a tough one, ladies. 😉
*Clayford has never been hit in the face with a chair, although I’ve pictured it in my mind several times.