I’ll admit it- even though I am a proud feminist, I used to judge stay-at-home moms and housewives pretty harshly.
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’d quickly put them in the bucket of possible close friends. If they said they stayed home, I’d put them in the bucket of “play date friends”; not women I could really connect to, but ones 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 sense of a traditional 9-5– I’ve started to gain a newfound 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 suit-wearing, conference call leading, traveling 3-days a week, power-bitch-mom- has always been my greatest source of pride, so when that’s longer my identity, what’s left?
I’ll tell you what’s left- the feeling like I’m less-than anyone who has a job that requires them to wash their face every morning.
My identity now is that of an entrepreneur. Many times feel like I’m on an island– the affirmations and encouragement I used to receive from bosses and colleagues are no longer a consistent part of my day.
It’s incredibly easy to feel the need to overcompensate for any small break I may allow myself on a given day. Slacker and Lazy are words that run through my head anytime I end a day without a monetary gain that would match my previous salary.
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 this business…by myself. Why can’t I see the value in everything I do in a given day?
Even though I’m working harder now than I ever had before, it feels almost impossible to take credit for any of it.
Am I a different person since I quit the corporate world? Yes.
Am I any less intelligent? Nah.
Am I any less hardworking? Nope.
Am I a better mom for being at home more than before? No.
So then why am I over-compensating for taking a purposeful break from the rat race to follow my heart and build my business? 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.