I'm writing about something that's a sensitive topic for me, one that I could struggle over a lot and get down about it. Instead I'm choosing to make light of it and see the possible funny or fun side of it.
I'm a stay at home mom and presently also a homeschooling mom. The only income I make is the savings to our family from not having 3, soon to be 4, kids in childcare. I did not heroically give up ivy league degrees, law school, or being a doctor or nurse to stay at home with my babies. My job, if I had one, would not cover the expenses of nannies, daycare, preschools, and after school child care for 4 kids.
When my husband and I were married 8 years ago we quit our jobs to go overseas and learn a foreign language together. We didn't marry each other for one or the other's impressive careers and earnings. Almost immediately we found out we were having our first baby. After about 6 months we returned home and Jeremy started back in his old career in the same job. I used the time to complete my interdisciplinary bachelor's degree in "ministry" and humanities, when I was about 8 months pregnant. At the age of 33 I had my firstborn baby girl. In the early years of our marriage we could afford college classwork, Chinese language tutoring, and other schools or classes...
It is now 8 years later and I am expecting our fourth baby at the age of 40. It has been over 8 years that I haven't had a job. The last time I looked at a job description requirement or talked to a hiring specialist, most are not asking for 8 or more years of stay at home mom work experience. I have filled pages and pages of my journal with career ideas and options for the future, and still don't know what I'm doing with my life. Here's some of my options, and these are not jokes, they are very real options and goals I have thought about over the years:
1. I can get a job at my local grocery store. In fact, it happens to be the same store I worked at for my first job at the age of 15, serving coffee, breakfast and fried chicken in the deli, bussing tables and washing dishes.
2. I can work at a coffee shop. They may even let me bake pastries since I've had over 8 years of experience baking goodies for my family.
3. I can always try at starting my own business since I've had over 8 years experience of being the only boss and no business is going to hire a stay at home mom anyways (though I know nothing about selling things to people).
4. Write a book and get it published (that was my husband's idea).
5. Teach English as a Second or Foreign Language (if my bachelor's degree is good enough, I don't know much about that but I'm sure someone could tell me).
6. Move our family again, to Western China this time, or in the Himalayan Mountains, and start a cafe or bread & breakfast hospitality business with my husband (he could work remotely and continue his I.T. work over there).
Being a stay at home mom these days is not only unheard of but very difficult. The whole world wants to shame her and it's difficult for her to feel that she belongs, contributes to society, and is smart. And of course, there's the many voices saying that all of that is actually true - you don't belong, you are not smart, and you don't contribute a thing.
Re-entering the working world is one of the scariest things I can imagine. I wonder if it is as difficult economy-wise as it was in the early 2000's and if it has gotten even worse since then. Is it as difficult now as it was back then to find jobs and to actually be hired, and what would I do in an emergency?
The truth is that my life, instead of being devastated, is absolutely blessed. I am so lucky to have all these sweet children and my husband who actually loves me. Oh I know, everyone would tell me that real women can do both - have a successful career and have children at the same time. Shouldn't have to choose between one or the other. Financially though, we did have to choose. It's fine, they can think whatever they want to about me. But they still can't take away the fact that I have a beautiful and amazing family.