Right now it would be hard for me to find a more gender conforming role as is my current life as wife and stay at home mother.
For a long time in this relationship our roles were reversed as I was the breadwinner while Mr. Wolff studied and managed the household.
I always thought I’d be more comfortable in a traditional role, I’ve played the part of full time worker and mum building a work life while my other children were small. It was immensely difficult, being pulled in multiple directions and never quite enough time or energy to go around. It’s a lot of work and I have a lot of respect for those of us who do it without losing their mind.
This emotional tug of war though led me to idealise being a stay at home parent. I was never silly enough to think it would be easy or that I’d have lots of time to do as I pleased. But I did think that I’d finally be free of that pulling, the conflict between where I am and what else I “should” be doing. In my case it doesn’t turn out to be true. There’s the feeling that perhaps I should be working to move us in to a better financial position, but when you take in to account the costs of childcare it becomes a lot of sacrifice for little gain. This is probably different for people who managed to get life in some sort normal order and got a degree or qualification while they were young and before they built a family. But there’s something more to the whisper of disquiet that has come with being at home, dependance.
As someone who has been independent and responsible for myself better or worse for a very long time there’s a certain unease to putting your financial security in the hands of someone else, even if that someone is my wonderful husband.
The feelings that accompany this are somewhat like being squeezed from two sides. The first being societal expectations and norms. Not too long ago as a stay at home mother the societal pressure would be to do just that with a smile and no deference to myself or my own life desires. But now as it is increasingly normal for families to have both parents working and for women to build their careers it’s almost a feeling that you are a disappointment for not trying to live it all at once. A feeling of being looked down at for being at home with your child. That and the ever stupid pitting of women and mothers against each other for their choices or in many cases circumstances beyond their control. This pressure can also be largely self inflicted in the form of the ever looming mother guilt, compound by assuming that others even have time to judge us.
The other direction closing in and pushing is that of the desire …….not being able to achieve your desires, financial constraints and lets face it time constraints can close the door to personal dreams. Losing yourself is such a risk in this case but I think that it’s something that all too often happens (working or not). The reality of life is that not all of us get to work a job they love, have all the things they want and yet even still we can be incredibly blessed with the life that we’ve been given.
The only thing to do is keep going and try to find the value in ourselves and not the things we have or do.
Ever onward one foot in front of the other…