We have been pulled from the line of awaiting passengers on our journey homebound. A Sydney airport security officer, who’s accent reveals he is not native Australian but European, German perhaps, begins to pepper us with questions regarding our recent trip.
How long were we in Australia?
Where did we go?
What did we see?
How did we enjoy our trip?
What do you do for a living, sir?
And how about you, ma’am?
I immediately feel a little ball of anxiety form in my gut. I look downcast, bowing my head slightly. I stammer, “I’m a”…….pause as I try to choose which title I’d prefer…… fuck it, none of them seem befitting…..”I’m a housewife”.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. I heard the security officer reply, “Aaahhh, that’s the best job in the world, right?!”
Mr. Reinvention heard the officer reply “Aaahhh, that’s the hardest job in the world, right?!”
I bring up the interaction later, when we are home in the states. I acknowledge to Mr. Reinvention my shame and he confirms that he saw it by describing my body language to me. “Why?”, I puzzle to him. “Why am I like this?” He replies softly, “I don’t know”.
Housewife, home engineer, stay at home mom, lady of the house, family manager, home economist, mistress of the house, wife and mother, domestic diva.
Currently, a huge part of who I am. I accepted this new role with open arms. In fact I actively resigned from my career to fulfill this integral cog in the family wheel. When my daughter was born I cut back to working part time to be home with her more. When we decided to homeschool her I retained my part time working status and we hired a nanny to help with teaching and activities. Almost immediately after my mom died I knew that I could no longer be who my patients needed me to be while grieving and trying to put myself back together. So when I tried to initiate FMLA at my job and was denied I took that risk and resigned. I resigned truly for myself. I was in no shape to help people. I had nothing left to give. I was a giant gaping messy wound. I wanted a break from healthcare, having been in the trenches since age 18. Watching my mom die awakened in me a forgotten drive to attend to my lost and neglected dreams. Her death gave me the courage to step out of the narrow box I had created for myself. The one crafted by should’s and must’s and unrealistic expectations and skewed perceptions. I wanted to spend as much time being involved in my daughter’s homeschool process as possible. I wanted to care for my husband and help him in his business. And so with his full support, I dove into a role I never envisioned undertaking.
And here we are almost two years later. I love the path that I am on. I love being home and feeding my dreams of writing and blogging while feeding my daughter’s educational passions. I love taking care of my people and my home. There has not been one day that I miss my career or wish to return. Not one. So why is it that I retain this guilt and shame about my lack of income contribution to the household? Where is this within me? And it is entirely my own issue. Mr. Reinvention is fully encouraging. Why is my self value directly tied to my income or my career or my expectation of doing something huge with my life? Why am I ashamed of being a stay at home mom? Furthermore, why isn’t raising an incredible human a fantastic enough achievement for me?
Why is it that it isn’t enough for me to be a good human growing a good human?
To treat other people with the same kindness, compassion, dignity and respect that I would like to be treated with.
To be the most loving mother, wife, daughter and friend.
To write my little blog and hope that I am reaching through cyberspace and connecting with others.
Where did this line of thinking stem from?
I am not materialistic or power hungry.
What exactly is it that I crave to achieve?
I have the power to create whatever impact on the world I desire.
And I am doing it.
Where is my bliss, my fulfillment?
Why am I dissatisfied?
I tell my daughter that grateful people are happy people. I believe this to my core.
Yet, here I am belittling myself for not being more, doing more, having more.
It is a twisted and fruitless cycle.
One that leads to degradation of my hopes and dreams, taints my present and annihilates my future growth.
Growing up my mom taught me the following mantra:
Never trust a man. Men leave. You get your education and get a good career so that you can always provide for yourself and not wind up like me.
That’s a horrible mantra to enforce upon a child. Though I know she meant no harm. On the contrary. She was trying to protect me from reliving her own painful experiences. Coloring my relationships with men. My ability to trust the opposite sex. Perhaps that is part of where my shame stems from. Maybe fear? A little of both?
As a homemaker who also homeschools, I am a double rarity in society. Most American families must have a two person income to survive. Many women desire to retain their careers while being parents. I take no issue with others living their lives however they see fit. I just hope to feel secure enough in my own decisions for myself and my family. Rather than feeling embarrassed when someone asks what I do, I would love to proudly report that I am the sun, the center, the hearth of my family. I refuse to shirk the question. For in denying my satisfaction in my homemaking role I am denying myself. Hopefully, my contribution to our family goes deeper than any salary I could ever earn.
Does your earning potential impact your self worth? What do you do to remedy those feelings?
Does anyone have any other catchy titles for this mistress of the house?