Today I had someone ask me if Jacob is going to be in kindergarten next year, and after I said yes she asked with a hint malice," Well, what are you going to do with yourself then?"
You see, I am a stay at home mom. Not because I believe I am better than anyone else, or find that though we have sacrificed greatly for me to stay at home with our babies that my sacrifices are greater than those of anyone else. I simply did what I thought was best for MY kids.
So many things ran through my mind in a matter of seconds. I want to snap back that I would probably CONTINUE to do the thousands of things I do every day, you know like laundry, cooking and general cleaning up for 4 other people. I would continue with the tedium of clipping coupons to scrimp since we are on one income, shopping for the best deals and sales to stretch our income, agonizing over bills and sticking to a budget to buy those groceries, spend bits and pieces of time with my kids, fretting over my jewelry business and struggling to make time for it... day dreaming about creating something with my hands like painting or drawing.
On top of all of those things struggling to get out of bed in the morning because of unbreakable cycle of insomnia... which makes my debilitating fibromyalgia pain and chronic fatigue syndrome much worse. Developing a new heart problem which contributes to the fatigue. Grappling with system crippling allergies that keep me locked inside on the most beautiful of days, and knowing that because of all of these illnesses that I can no longer work and contribute to supporting my family causing depression and anxiety. Knowing that if a dear friend of mine with most of the same illness as me (only worse) is having a hard time getting disability so my chances are very slim... hating that I once was a nurse but can no longer do the job I loved even if I really wanted to and that this was NOT how I planned the last half of my life going...
In mere moments I was knocked down and belittled, angry and confused as to why this person that I haven't seen in almost 6 months would want to verbally snipe me... if only she knew, CARED to retain or bothered to read my status updates, (though I guess honestly despite all this I try not complain on Facebook much because who wants to read that?).
I have been working in some capacity since I was 10 (family business, paper routes, ice cream stands, groceries stores all before I was 18), I have paid my dues as a productive member of society until 14 years ago when I became a stay at home mom. I don't deserve the implications that I sit on my ass all day eating fritos and watching soap operas.
I wanted to respond in kind, I wanted to hurt her back but as unhappy as I felt at that moment and have been feeling for over a year I realized she was probably so much more unhappy than me for wanting to make me feel less than for staying home with my kids at first by choice... and then later out of necessity for health reasons.
I did not glean an ounce of joy from realizing that she was more than likely jealous of the lifestyle she THOUGHT I was living. It didn't make me feel superior that she was most likely very unhappy.
I don't need to match someone else's guidelines or validate my choices... and I certainly do not matter less because I do not or can not hold a job outside of the home. Despite all my unhappiness and longings I still would have left a very lucrative job as a licensed practical nurse in California 14 years ago to move back to John's hometown in Iowa to stay at home to raise Anna myself. I matter, I have and will continue to make a difference if only for my family.
In those moments that probably only took up 30 seconds I replied with a slight smile, in a soft voice, "Yeah, who knows." I let it go.
Long story short (TL;DR) , not every circumstance is an opportunity to level the playing field. Sometimes we need to show a little kindness and walk in someone else's shoes. And sometimes the kindest thing we can do is keep our mouths shut. I really wish for a time when women lift and support one another instead of "sweeping the legs" out from under them Karate Kid style, for very personal choices and very valid reasons that are diminished to presumptions. I hope we can be kinder to each other as humans as a whole because we really never know what is going on behind closed doors and closed hearts.