Saturday, November 8, 2014

Allowing Myself to Feel Valuable

Sometimes being an adult really sucks. Aside from the bills, responsibilities and general life expectations, people expect you to have what they deem an acceptable answer to the question "So, what do you do?"

When you're a teenager nobody asks you that. As an adult, everyone wants to know. But, they aren't actually asking what you do, they're asking what you do to contribute to your household. Here's how the conversation goes with strangers:

Person: So, what do you do?
Me: Oh, I'm a homemaker.
Person: Awe, that's so nice, so how many kids do you have?
Me: Uh, none....
Person: Um...
Me: But not for lack of trying...?
Person: what do you DO?

This always results in me desperately trying to come up with an acceptable answer. Of course nothing I do is an acceptable answer because everything I do can also be accomplished by people doing those things AND bringing in a regular paycheck, thus, in the eyes of the stranger rendering me less valuable than all of the people that do what I do and contribute in a more tangible way.

This always leads to a comment about how it must be nice to get to stay at home while someone else does all the work. Which always leads to me deciding that I need to go to work.

Not for me, not for my husband, not for the betterment of our lives.

For you.

So you can stop judging me and so I can feel like society gives me some value as a contributing member of my household.

This always leads to my husband reminding of why we chose this lifestyle and how much value he places on me and my role.

Then, until I meet someone new again, that's enough and I feel valued and useful.

I do a lot to contribute to my household, and my days aren't always easy and super laid back like everyone assumes.

My days get messy.

My days can be chaotic.

My days can be stressful.

Just like yours.

No, I don't have little ones running around. No, I don't usually have a schedule to keep or deadlines or expectations to live up to. But I do do work, valuable work. My contribution is substantial. It may not be so in the way society sees things these days, but in my house my efforts, my days, the things I do, matter.

I matter.

I know a lot of people do the things I do with children and full-time jobs, and I admire them. I really do. I'm glad that they can do that and that they've made that choice. That isn't the choice that we've made. And it is our choice to make.

Here's the thing that it has taken is taking a long time for me to realize and embrace fully, it's okay not to be perfect and have a mile long list of my day's accomplishments always at the ready.

I often feel that because I'm home all day you shouldn't be able to find a speck of dust or piece of clutter in my house, that there should always be something in the oven or on the stovetop, and that everything should be in its place. When I start to feel this way, that my only value as a person is in what I do and not who I am I get bogged down and run myself ragged.

There have been weeks where I felt like such a useless waste of space because of comments that I've gotten from people that I've worked so hard and tried to do so much just to prove myself worthy and useful that I've done nothing but cook and clean all day to the point that when my husband got home in the afternoon I was so exhausted I couldn't spend time with him. That was part of the point of me staying home, us getting to be a couple. Getting to spend time together that we wouldn't otherwise.

He gets home at 1:30 most days which leaves the entire afternoon for us to just be together. If I worked outside the home I'd either be working or rushing around to get all of the household things done after work and we'd doth be too tired to relax and enjoy each other and just being together.

We sacrifice a lot to have the lifestyle we do. I bake all of our bread, make our food from scratch, we don't buy soda pop [I lost a bet], snacks, or even disposable sandwich bags. We don't have cable, we only have one car, we tried to shut off our cell phones ((long story)) and we rarely go out. We don't buy paper towels, napkins, pads, or plastic cups/plates/silverware. I make our cleaning products and we don't have any of the latest gadgets.

But you know what we do have? A whole lot more us. And in this house, that's what counts. For this house, for my husband, I matter. I have value. I am more than what I do or don't do during the day, I mean more than a paycheck.

You may not see it that way, society may not see it that way, but my husband does. And so does God. And, I'm getting better at seeing that every day.

Please understand two things: We are not on any assistance whatsoever [not that there is anything wrong with that, just putting it out there before I get asked/accused]  Second, I understand that you may not live this way or want to live this way, and I respect that. This is our choice for our family, this is where our values lie. I don't expect everyone to make the choices we've made, I understand that not everyone can or is willing to. That's fine. I respect that.

I'm asking you to respect me too. I may not have a role that our society deems valuable or important, but I have a role that I deem valuable and important, a role that I find fulfilling and worthwhile, a role that my husband loves and appreciates.

One day I may need to work outside of the home, but not today.

Today I stay home.

Today I bake the bread.

Today I wash the clothes and hang them out to dry.

Today I allow my house to remain cluttered and a little messy because truthfully, it's comfortable that way, we live here.

Today I will spend extra time with my husband cuddling on the couch and laughing about nothing or arguing about getting a hedgehog.

Today I have value beyond a paycheck.

Today I ask you to stop asking me when I'll get a 'real job' because I already have one.

It's here, at home.

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