“Do you work?”
It’s a common and innocuous question.
Instead of just answering that I stay home, I often find myself launching into a detailed explanation, a justification, of why I no longer work a paying job.
I spent four years in college . . . I don’t regret one day of those years nor do I feel they were a waste. I grew so much in that time and was afforded a safe place, a space somewhere between childhood and full on adulthood that I know is an immense privilege, to grow up and into myself.
I spent ten years in education for which I’m immensely thankful. Those ten years taught me so much. They weren’t without a few tears but also brought a ton of joy (and lifelong friendships). In those first years of teaching, I thought I would return to school, earn my masters, and work my way up the admin ladder. Then, five years in, I had my son, and in the weeks following his birth, I realized that my desires had completely flipped. The desire to work my way to the top was replaced by a deep desire to stay home. It was five more years before I was able to transition from teaching full time (and then some) to working part time for my family’s business. Another two and half years passed before I was able to fully realize the dream of staying home when we brought our daughter home from Bulgaria.
So, no, I don’t go to work at a job that pays. But I do work. Probably harder than I ever worked in the years I was paid to show up and do a job. That’s not a play for sympathy . . . not in the least . . . but I am determined to stop apologizing and justifying the fact that I stay home.
And I’ve come to realize some very important truths regarding being a stay at home mom/wife:
- It needs no justification. Unless you are directly affected by my choices, I owe you neither justification nor explanation. No, not everyone is afforded the privilege of being able to stay home (so please don’t send me an email or comment about how you were not able to . . . I fully realize it’s a blessing), but also, we work hard to make it work. And we do the things necessary to make sure I can continue to stay home.
- It is not less than. What I do . . . day in and out . . . cleaning, laundry, cooking, grocery runs, taxiing kids, helping with school events, being available to help my husband with whatever “stuff” comes up (on the rare occasion the need arises) . . . it is not less than . . . it is important. We glorify careers. We see them as “more than”, while performing household duties is somehow “less than”. But both have value and purpose.
- And to the last point, just like having a career isn’t for everyone, staying home is also not for everyone. We are not all called to the same things. We do not all have the same talents and giftings or the same desires. What you decide to do or not do is between you and your spouse and God. Period.
- It’s hard. My children do have chores, but the lion’s share of the housework is my responsibility, and the never-ending cycle of tasks that come from staying home can be mundane and tedious and exhausting sometimes. It’s a 24/7/365 kind of job, and sometimes it can feel like all I do is wash clothes and dishes and clean floors and feed people (these people eat so. much. food.), but hard does not mean horrible. AND it’s also an incredibly precious gift and blessing to be here in this place, at this time, helping to create a safe and happy home for these people.
- Finally, it doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m not June Cleaver, and this isn’t Leave it to Beaver. So if we order a pizza sometimes or the floors don’t get mopped one week, the world will not stop spinning on its axis, and my family won’t cease to function well . . . honestly, they probably wouldn’t even notice.
So the next time someone asks me if I work, I can give a witty answer . . . “I’m the CEO of my home” . . . or I can be humorous . . . “I’m a domestic goddess” . . . or I can simply say, “I stay home.” No explanation or justification needed.
This isn’t exclusive to my life or situation. Too many of us walk around making justifications and offering explanations when they absolutely are not necessary. There are times when we need to explain things to those closest to us, but also, we need to normalize not offering an explanation to the whole wide world every time we make a choice or decision. Likewise, on the flip side, sometimes we need to let people’s yes be yes and no be no without demanding an explanation or justification.
Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.