November 27, 2010

Be Authentic

Some recent comments on my post on the three books that have impacted my life, have led me to write this post. 

Never apologize for the choices that you have made in your life.  Be authentic.

When my oldest son was born I had to go back to work when he was 7 weeks old.  We knew it before we even had him.  Our first child had died after her birth in March 1984 and I wanted another child really bad. We waited about 8 months until I got pregnant, knowing that I would have to work after the baby was born.  I was fine with that as long as I had another child.  I wasn't willing to wait another 3 years to have a baby in order to be able to afford to stay home.  Fast forward to the day before I went back to work after he was born. 

I was picking our son up from our church nursery after the morning worship service.  The minister's wife was in the nursery holding him and as she handed him to me she said "so tomorrow mommy is dropping you off at someone else's house to be raised."  I just stared at her and made a comment that we needed my income.  Her reply was that I needed to bake my own bread.

Okay, now at that point in our marriage baking bread was not going to be the money saver that was going to allow me to be home full time.  Also, I needed support and not criticism at the time.  What I should have said was this.  "My husband and I agree that my working is the best for our family and we would appreciate that people not stick their nose in our business."  I didn't say it as this was the minister's wife and she intimidated me.  My husband did make a comment to her later about "not criticizing my wife."  I wish I had his boldness.

One year later I had quit my job to stay home with my son.  In order to be able to afford to stay home I babysat a little girl who was the same age as our son.  So the minister's wife criticized me again by saying that I should be home and focusing on my family, not someone else's child.  I responded with "mind your own business."  She was so dumbfounded and didn't know what to say. I walked away making no apologies for my life nor did I ever apologize to her for that statement.  I always greeted her at church with a smile and put that moment behind me but I was shaken up for quite awhile.

It is very emotional to stand up to people for what you believe and to also realize that you don't have to justify what you do to other people.  But in saying that, I realize that we as women are alway seeking approval or validation for what we are doing. No one can live your life, but you.  There will always be people who will judge others and want to give them unwanted advice. 

I'm home number one because I want to be home and number two, it happened earlier than I had expected due to the loss of my job.  I had job opportunities but I turned them down as I saw my situation as an opportunity to finally be home full time.

By being home full time and living on one income, I have made friends and acquaintances uneasy. I make them uneasy as for years, in my circle of friends and acquaintances, we would tell each other that we wanted to leave the rat race and be home for good.  Now that I am doing it, it makes them very uncomfortable. The majority of these people really choose to work, whether it is due to retirement money, extra money or really the real reason is that they love their jobs.  Own it - and don't feel bad because you are living the life you choose to live whether you hold down a full time job or whether you are home.  You may be working full time because you have lost the majority of your retirement due to the recession.  Your family may need the extra income and you provide a vital support for your family.  Maybe you enjoy your job and would not enjoy being home full time.  It's okay.  Don't seek to justify to others why you work.

In the alternative, if you have made the switch to being home full time, don't justify that to others either.  It is really no one's business the choices we have made.  When people ask me what I am doing these days, I tell them that I am home full time.  They think it is temporary and I tell them, that this is my new career.  I am home for good and am very happy.  I usually get a "I wish I could do that" and I respond "I wish you could too." and then I move on in the conversation. 

Just live your life ladies and along the way you will always encounter people who will feel that they owe you their opinion.   Don't seek justification for the life you are living, whether you are working outside of the home or you are home full time.  Enjoy your life, even if you are working and don't want to work.  Perhaps you are home and unemployed and want to have a job.  In the meantime, enjoy the life you have and "Bloom where you are planted."


Lyn said...

I posted a bit more on the previous post to clarify a bit.

The biggest thing I wish is that women who work would not think that because we are home we think we are better in any way. I surely don't. What I have I wish for many who desire to be home but say they can't. The thing is, I know that some of these women can be home if they downsized their life a bit and gave up the pursuance of the perfectly decorated home, the new car, expensive clothing, the life of "stuff". I find that people who work for things are never satisfied with what they have and never will be. I don't live my life competing with the Joneses, as I simply don't care about such things.

And also, for the women who reply with "You're so lucky" (which I've heard a hundred times) is for them to realize that it takes sacrifice and hard work to live on one modest income. We don't sit home eating bon-bons, contrary to what is believed by some. There are many things at home that need to be tended to, and I have often heard that women who come home think they are going to have much free time, and they don't. At home there is always something to do.

As for that minister's wife, goodness, shame on her. It was very tactless for her to say what she did in the manner that she said it. It's good that you and your husband did speak up to her and hopefully she listened so she would never make the same mistake of inserting her foot in her mouth again.

Lyn said...

For those who want to be home but feel like they can't, here are a few options (some of which I do or have done):

*Stop extra spending beyond food and real needs and pay off any debt.
*Bank the 2nd income for savings or use for paying off debt
*Live in a home that is based on one income, not two
*Sell the 2nd car, or sell the only new car and buy a good used one
*Be willing to live in an apartment, or other housing if cheaper
*Keep entertainment at home - don't go to expensive movies, plays, activities for you or for the children
*Skip any vacationing (this is not a need, it's a want)

These are just a few ideas, but some can save BIG money.

Beyond a simple place to lay one's head, food, basic clothing, basic transportation and money to keep the simple home going, not much else is a real need. Ask - "What do I truly want? Money, material things, or my time (which cannot be replaced)?

I hope I haven't shared too much but maybe it might help someone else out there.

Maureen said...

Where does The Ministers Wife get off making a cruel statement like that, my blood would have boiled at that. Glad you eventually put her in her place.

I work because my Hubby has a serious of illnesses which could put him out of the workforce with very little notice, so it is imperative until we have pensions or savings that I work.

That is a personal matter, and if anybody dared criticise me over this choice I would put them firmly in their place.

Sharon said...

Hi Martha,
I found your blog through Maureen's blog. I was dumbfounded when you wrote what the minister's wife had said to you...both times! I cannot believe the nerve..Wow. I'm not sure I would have known what to say at the time, but I'm sure I could think of plenty now! In any event, I'm so glad you are enjoying being home now, and I'm so looking forward to reading more about it!


Martha said...

It all comes down to this:

We can be hard on each other or we can be supportive of each other. That comment from a minister's wife happened in 1985 and it has stayed with me all these years. I use it as an example of how a comment can hurt someone and not be affirming.

I have had to work over the years to help put my husband through his Master's Degree and to also help to put food on the table. I am grateful and thankful that I can be home.

I know women who are working because they need the health insurance for their family or because they have lost most of their retirement due to the recession and they must contribute financially to their family's future plans.

I mentored a young woman who was working full time and had a small child. She desperately wanted to be home. I encouraged her to not put her happiness on the back burner (until she could be home full time) and treasure the time she had with her child.

I also mentored a woman who took medication for depression and told me that there was no way in the world she could tolerate being home with her children. She needed to work. She asked me for advice on raising kids when you work full time.

In neither situation did I tell them what to do. I was just being a friend and encourager to each one.

We all make choices and sometimes those choices are made for us. Surround yourself with supportive people and you will thrive.

Wonderful comments ladies. I really appreciate hearing from you.