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When you don't work outside the home...

October 19th, 2022 at 11:04 pm

When you don't work outside the home it can be tough.  I say that because I've been there, done that.  It's a really tough thing.   How so?  The lack of respect and validation and feeling of self-worth can be hard to maintain.  I write this for two reasons. 

One a friend talked to me about how she felt being "only" a mom.  She had done her phd as well in biology and now she was "only a mom."  She feels like she needs to work to find herself outside of the kids.  I told her I totally get it.  That it's really hard to go from an important "job" to not having a job.  It's really hard still for me to be in a group of people and not work full time and have a "career".  I have a "job".  I like what I do.  But I still feel embarrassed at times.  I told her I do still feel judged.  I have definitely felt lesser at the company holiday party when people say "what do you do?"  And I hear "why don't you work?"  The answer now interestingly even though I started my own business is "I take care of my kids." 

I usually get a gasp and silence but i decided after I started my own business I no longer needed validation from anyone. I only needed my own self worth.  Maybe it was after 40 I give a rat's behind about anything. I now say random stuff like I could care less what my kids do as long as they are happy and productive.  I pulled them out of gifted programs because they weren't happy.  We turned down a choice school opportunity because I thought my kid would struggle making friends. 

Yes I say all those things now and I sometimes I mention working but often I say I don't work and I'm free.  It's still a bit weird that I don't use my phd, but at the same time it took a long time to figuer out I hated it.  I told my friend I achieved pretty much everything a parent could want.  Excellent test scores, grades, extracurriculars, and acceptance into every school I applied to. I got into every top program both in undergraduate and graduate school.  My resume read like someone who did everything right and yet I detoured and found my zen with my kids, new job, and life.  

But then again I am married to guy who also quit his 1st career and found his zen.  His resume also reads "accomplished everything parents want" then quit job, moved, changed careers and let wife not work and raise kids.  If we lived the way everyone else expected us to we'd be a "high power couple" climbing the ladder.  But instead we meander our way on 1 income, driving crappy cars, and working at jobs that are fufilling.  Maybe it's my husband's acceptance.

The second reason I wrote this?  This weekend he was trying to recruit someone to work for him.  The guy asked "how do you do it?  how do you have a family and do a start-up?"  DH "my wife does everything."  And the accceptance of it works.  At the same time we both committed to this short term insanity knowing that it was his dream to start a company (yes when I met him he wanted to do this no lie).  He wanted to make a mark and build his own company and he passed on one about 15 years ago and regretted it.  This time I said he had to do it, and we knew it was not going to be easy.  And now at the startup?  When anyone asks I just say I stay at home.  I am definitely not embarrassed because we wouldn't be doing this if he was pulling his weight at home.  I know my worth and contribution right now.

Maybe it's age.  But truth it is still really hard to be "non-working" spouse.  To be the partner who takes the step back and follows and supports.  But at the same time you have to look at yourself and say it's enough. That you know what you are truly worth and give yourself a pat on the back.  It's okay to be happy with a "lesser" role.  So to all my friends struggling with finding their place and being okay with it.  

You have value.  You are amazing and can do anything you want.  A career doesn't define it.  It's just money or a job.  The title means nothing.  Who you are is defined by whatever you want it to be.   And it's not "less". What you do is work.  And you do not have to work outside the home to have a job. (wish someone had told me that at 30!)

4 Responses to “When you don't work outside the home...”

  1. mumof2 Says:

    I feel the same, I stayed home with the kids until they were both in school, then I went to work and my hubby stayed home with them, did all their school stuff, he was in his element, I then went back to college and worked and he took care of the house and kids until our DD got really sick at 14 and needed 24/7 you the word here is we supported each other and our dreams...until sickness took over for both of us but we still made it work but neither of us ever felt less than as to me being a parent is the most important job and we had amazing kids and they loved that no matter what was going on there was always a parent there to cheer them on...success is what you make it....I don't think a college degree or loads of money makes you successful!!

  2. CB in the City Says:

    I was a single mom. I would have given ANYTHING to stay at home with my kids. It was truly heartbreaking for me to have to work and leave them in the care of someone else. So I say, yes, be proud of what you're doing! And be glad that you can! A lot of the women who may come across as judgmental may also be envious.

  3. rob62521 Says:

    Excellent post! Sadly society values us based on our jobs. I'm glad you have your priorities where you want them and know the happiness that comes with that!

    I worked in education for over 30 years. People will "tell" me I need to go back and work or sub or whatever. Honestly, I have no desire to. I worked hard, gave it my all, and the stress about did me in. If I had to, based on need, I guess I would, but would hope I could find something else.

    Good for you for doing what is best for your family!

  4. GoodLiving Says:

    Gosh, I could write volumes in this response. I was able to stay home with my child until he went to kindergarten and then the marriage broke up. I was a single parent for many years and worked hard because I needed to support my child. Child has grown and launched and I find myself in my second marriage and my spouse has retired due to burn out and is taking care of me. They also find issues with how folks view them due to most people think you are your job. If you don't have a job then who are you? You're smart, that's what! It's all about priorities and there's some freedom in being able to achieve your dreams or supporting your spouse in achieving their dreams. Please don't sell yourself short, you are rich in all the other things you do in supporting your family, it's such hard work.

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