Good morning, Mommy. MondayMonday. Back at it!
I heard a woman on a radio show last week talking about married women and careers. Specifically, she was a religious woman talking with a conservative radio talk show host, and she was saying that she didn’t understand why a woman would want a career other than the career of building a beautiful marriage and family. Her voice was dripping with sweetness, the kind that lets you know she has no faults, and she knows she’s right, and you are an unworthy lesser person if you disagree.
Now, just to be clear, I am a woman of deep faith, and I am mostly conservative, and religious woman though I am, I was filled with a sudden wave of angry heat listening to her syrupy sweet voice. It raised up in me suddenly, and I gritted my teeth at the radio.
“What about the woman and man BOTH building the marriage and family??” I fumed. “What if we don’t have a choice!”
I thought about my own life. I love my family, and my family is my number one priority, and at the same time, I have appreciated having a career outside the home! It’s also true that I’ve cried more than once in airports and taxis and hotel rooms for the pain of being away from them, but if I had stayed home I would not have had an automatically pain-free perfect life.
I raged at the radio, and I’m still fuming.
Religious women, it seems to me, get this line of guilt tripping too often, with the implied thought that somehow God wants you to stay home too. Ugh.
I’ve known other woman whose feminist friends guilted them about wanting to give up their job to be a full-time mom, like they were a lesser woman for wanting to stay home!
Let’s just be clear:
No matter who you are, no matter what your faith or your politics, you can work and still be a good mother and wife.
It is possible to work and have a healthy marriage. It is possible to work and raise loving, balanced kids.
It is okay to want to work. It is okay to enjoy your work.
It is okay to take a promotion. It is okay to decline the promotion. It is okay to take a demotion to spend more time at home.
It is okay to be a great employee, but, when the need arises, to blow off your work to give your marriage and kids an extra dose of TLC.
It is okay for your husband to stay home.
And it is okay to work part time. And it is okay to quit your job and stay home and love that.
All this is true.
Life is not simple math. It is not 2 + 2 = 4. It is not “If you’ll just stay home and be a good wife and raise your kids you’ll have a happy life.”
No. Life is a complicated calculus with uncountable variables. And variables that change constantly, what’s more.
Listen to your gut. Listen to your kids and your husband and your heart. Build the life that works for you.
Be brave enough to change something if your life isn’t working right now. Be honest enough to admit if it’s not working. If it is working, be strong enough to take pride in that, even in the face of outside disapproval.
All of life is work. Glorious, radiant, relentless work with rewards spilling over, rewards enough to swell your heart and life with love and laughter, but still work, no mistake.
And worth it.
So please, don’t be guilted into feeling like you are a lesser mother, or a lesser wife, or a lesser woman if you have chosen to, or have to, work outside the home.
I know you. I know how much you want every day to be your best. I know how much you want your marriage to be strong, your children to be happy, your family to be close.
You can build these beautiful things and work outside the home. Yes, you can. Your family, your math, your life.