I got so many "congrats" and "you'll do great" and generally awesome and supportive replies. For those, I am so thankful.
What I should have written was, "After 5 years out of the workforce, I got myself a PAYING job."
Because I already HAVE a job. A full time, 168 hours a week, no overtime paid, no sick days, job.
And I love it.
I quit my (paying)job one week after we found out I was pregnant with B Child Number Two, and haven't worked a day since.
It has been over 4 years. I have been blessed every day of those four-plus years by my husband; he supports me as a stay-at-home mom both emotionally and financially.
The number one question we get when people find out we are a one-income, five-member family is, "But how do you do it?" We are just as flabbergasted by the question as the asker is flummoxed by the answer, "We. Just. Do."
The whole answer is, more accurately, "We. Just. Do. Without."
We don't go out to eat as often as we did before kids #2 and #3. I only get my hair did when it is about 3 months post-decent looking. I am in desperate need of new summer clothes. Jeremy needs a new pair of tennis shoes (his one and only extravagance).
Our kids live in a safe, comfortable house.
Our bills are always paid on time.
We have ample groceries each week... until the day before payday when it mysteriously disappears.
Thanks in large part to three generous grandmothers, our kids have cute clothes and new shoes as soon as they grow out of the old ones.
But we don't have a whole lot of extras. And sometimes it's hard.
Last week I had lunch plans with friend that I had to cancel because we just didn't have any disposable funds. The same weekend a sweet friend of mine I haven't seen in years came in town from out of state. She and two other women I rarely get to see invited me to dinner in Little Rock, and I had to decline because I didn't have enough gas to get there and back and last the rest of the week.
*side note* Heaven help me if Jeremy reads this ultra-transparent post. He is anti-sharing. He's just plain stingy with our life story. ***
There were so many factors involved me in applying for a waitressing gig at a small local restaurant. Namely, we need extra money. And truth be told, I could do with a little social interaction with people who don't pick their noses in public (dear Lord please don't let those people pick their noses in public).
So this is the real reason I'm so irritated today:
There is someone in my family who has never, and I mean NEVER, seen the worth in my Priority Number One Job; that of being a mommy. In fact, this person, when told we were expecting B Child Number Three said, "Well, y'all have really bad timing, huh? You didn't have enough already?"
To be fair, it didn't start with motherhood. I have never been ambitious enough, dedicated enough, or moneyhungry enough for this person's taste.
So, I've been told weekly for FOUR YEARS that I ought to get a job to help support my husband (oh yeah, I'm a wifefail too. A burden on my knight.), who should be able to come home and put his feet up and be handed a big glass of beer. Forget that he would rather come home and play with his kids in the back yard and fix us dinner later. And that he doesn't really drink beer all that often. Or ever in front of his kids.
Call me masochistic, but I was really happy to be able to tell this person that I'd finally taken their advice (because before I was ungrateful for these gems of wisdom) and had become a contributing member of society. For an entire day this family member was excited for me. "Aren't you happy to get away from those kids?" "Don't you feel so much better when you're actually doing something?" Because surely I get tired of lounging in my robe, popping bonbons, dealing with those kids and perpetuating the "stay-at-home moms are lazy and rich" fallacy.
The glow of approval dimmed more quickly than I thought possible. Just this very morning I got a phone call from this person, wherein I was told that I surely don't want to be just a waitress for my whole life and that I should apply for a Pell Grant and go back to school to become a teacher.
(Ironically, my childhood dream of being A Teacher Like My Mommy was never good enough for this person either. Because teaching is what stay-at-home moms do when they are bored, or forced to work, but it's still not a Real Job.)
(Also, I've never been able to pinpoint what a Real Job is. Sometimes it's a checker at Wal-Mart, sometimes it's a bank teller, sometimes it's a hotel manager. I could not make this stuff up.)
(And, my high school aspirations of becoming Savannah B, Doctor of Psychology were never good enough either. Because talking about feelings doesn't fall under the Real Job umbrella.)
So, when I informed this person that no, I do not intend on being just a waitress for my entire existence, and yes I plan on going back to school in the future, but that no grant or scholarship would pay for babysitting while I go to class and besides we have made a decision that I. am. a. full. time. mother.......... it took all the luster out of my new exciting little job. It took the wind out of my serving-others sails. It knocked me down a notch on the ladder of worth. (Such an odd notion, that finally getting a job makes me less of a person because it's not the right job.)
**another side note** Last night, each of the 3 other waitresses made it known they were $42 away from making the car payment, or that they needed to make $121 to complete the rent, or that they had to pick up an extra shift to pay the light bill.
And I stayed silent. Guilty that this is just "bonus" money for our family, and wordlessly, immensely grateful for my husband's job, and for every other tangible and intangible blessing in my life. ***
Mostly it just reaffirmed that this particular person does not know me at all. They don't know how much joy I find in my Real Job of motherhood. They don't know that we plan on me staying home until our kids leave the home. (And I've avoided telling this person that we'll be homeschooling in the fall. I'll save that reaction for another rant-tastic blog post!) They don't see how I could even entertain such outlandish dreams of writing (for pay!), or of becoming a doula (that's not even a real profession!) or of building up my photography business (it's just a hobby!).
After I got all huffy and puffy and righteously indignant and started writing, I realized how insignificant that one phone call was, and how unimportant that one person's opinion on this particular matter is.
I am surrounded by people who know me. People who are genuinely happy for me and my new, fun, three-evenings-a-week job. People who are proud of me. People who love me. People who support me (and by extension, support my husband and children). People I don't have to explain myself to, people I don't have to convince that I have worth.
I read this tweet from my friend Kyran, and it went straight to my heart:
Those are my kind of friends. Those are the people I choose in my life.
Because, what good is it if you are required to play small?