I’ll admit it- I used to judge stay-at-home moms and housewives.
I’d politely introduce myself to these women and hope that when I asked if they "worked outside the home” they would reply "Yes, of course!”.
If they had a “real job” I quickly put them in the bucket of possible close friends. If they said they stayed home, I put them in the bucket of “play date friends”; not women I could really connect to, but who were good enough for an occasional glass of wine while my kids trashed their house.
I’m seeing things a much differently these days and missing those women.
The Universe is sneaky AF, because now that I’m not "working” in the traditional sense- I’ve started to gain a new respect and compassion for people who are brave enough NOT to make money.
I don’t mean that in the- they put up with their snot-nosed kids all day and that’s brave, sense.
I mean that they’re brave enough to forgo the affirmation and validation that comes with being a financial contributor to their household. They have willingly given away a little bit of power and accepted that their opinions and decisions won’t count as much as their financially earning spouse. Before you roll your eyes- this is just my opinion, but my observations have confirmed it many times.
For all you "sole breadwinners” (BTW- that is such a bull-shit term), whether you consciously acknowledge that you have the upper hand in your relationship or not- let me let you in on a little secret- you do.
Your spouse, girlfriend, whatever- is scrutinizing everything they spend and feeling guilty if it is something that solely benefits themselves (i.e. $5 Starbucks, mani-pedi, clothes, shoes, etc.) And if they’re like me- and do splurge on that latte- they’re probably going to bust their ass on some laundry when they get back home or make sure your shirts are back from the cleaners and hanging perfectly in the closet.
You may be thinking- damn Elizabeth, I didn’t know you guys were so strapped.
Well, here’s the thing, we’re not. My husband wouldn’t think of questioning any money I spend or knowingly try and make me feel guilty for taking care of myself with a massage or manicure, but that doesn’t make the feelings go away.
My identity as a working woman/mom, has always been my greatest source of pride, so when that’s stripped away what’s left?
I’ll tell you what’s left- the feeling like I’m less-than anyone who’s pulling in a check every 2 weeks.
As I’m getting that Starbucks, I look at my favorite Barista Jenna and think, "Wow. Good for her. At least she’s working today. What the hell am I going to do?”
My mind conveniently glosses over the massive to-do list I must complete in order to have my family’s lives run as smoothly as they do, all while starting my own business (by myself). Why can’t I see the value in everything I do in a given day?
Am I a different person since I quit working? Yes.
Am I any less intelligent? Nah.
Am I any less hardworking? Nope.
Am I a better mom for being at home? No.
So then why am I over-compensating for taking a purposeful break from check-cashing to follow my heart? That’s what I’m trying to figure out every day.
Maybe this is one of those times in life when you have to run towards your biggest fear and believe that it’s a huge opportunity to learn how to be compassionate on a deeper level: compassionate to others, and to yourself.
My goal is to truly learn this life lesson:
The amount of money someone makes doesn’t mean shit.
Money doesn’t determine the amount of respect, admiration, attention, or compassion they should be given.
I’ll never look at another stay-at-home mom the same way again.
There is only one bucket now and all are welcome.