Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Work and Self esteem
This is going to be very controversial, yet I don't intend it to be that way.
I was a stay at home Mom for 15 years. I didn't want to be. When I was engaged, I had long discussions with the fiancee about my expectations of marriage. I wanted a career, I wanted to work, I was ambivalent about having children. He seemed like an active participant in these discussions and would shake his head yes in agreement. I would learn years later that this was his passive aggressive way of telling me to fuck off. What I would learn years later is that he wanted me to stay home and have babies and take care of the house and take care of him and he was going to manipulate me into doing just that. He couldn't be honest with me and tell me that is what he wanted in a wife.
I graduated from college. I paid for it all by working my way through. I had a child by the time I graduated. I also succumbed to the pressure of my husband, my family and the church and became a stay at home Mom after graduation. I hated being a SAHM. I did a lot of things to survive. I volunteered at my children's schools. I set up playdates for my kids. I participated in women's nights out with my friends. Several of us Moms organized babysitting where we exchanged kid's so we could get out during the day. I had date night every Friday night. I traveled with my husband and with our family. Yet, I was bored, found little enjoyment in my life, and no accomplishment. My self esteem was suffering.
Why was the church so insistent that this life of a stay at home Mom be so fulfilling for me, yet I found it so dull and meaningless and my self esteem was waning and I was falling into despair and depression?
First, housework is linear work. It offers no opportunity for job advancement. I had worked at paying jobs since I was 11 years old. Even though many of these jobs didn't offer a lot of advancement, there was at least some advancement. Even in corn topping, I had the opportunity to move to a position to autonomy to drive myself from field to field and be a field supervisor. As a SAHM, there is no opportunity for advancement. There is no possibility to move into management, to improve in job title, to get better at folding laundry. There is no ladder to climb.
Second, there is no pay scale. There is no pay. The job is inherently inequitable to begin with because there is no pay. The wife must ask for money from her husband, and because of this, she is in a subservient role with her husband. No matter how she sees herself, she is not in an equal role with her husband because the one with the money is in a superior position to the one giving money to the other one. These two positions will never be seen as equal in each others eyes. The wife will not see herself as equal to her husband, and he will not see her as equal to him.
Third, housework is linear. No matter how many times you do the laundry it has to be done again. No matter how many times you clean the bathroom, it has to be done again. No matter how many times you do the dishes, they have to be cleaned again. No matter how many times you vacuum, it has to be done again. When a computer programer creates a program, they move on to a new program, they do not recreate the same program over and over again. When a nurse cares for a patient, they send that patient home. When a teacher teaches a concept, they move on to a new concept, they don't teach the same concept over and over again, or they teach new students. There is improvement in jobs, but not in housework. In housework, there is no improvement.
When children are very young, there is a lot of work, but there is also a lot of down time, too. They take naps, they play. The woman also gets down time. When children are young, I see the need for SAHM's but what's the point when the kids are in school? When I hear women say it's the hardest job, I just laugh as this is so false. I'm a single Mom who works two jobs. Until these women do what I'm doing, they have no room to say such a silly thing. I've done both, and being a SAHM is boring, routine, simple.
Humans need to feel they are accomplishing something to build their self esteem. Housework doesn't fit this need. Once children reach school age, they don't fit this need, and frankly, changing diapers over and over and calming a crying child and feeding a child over and over really doesn't fit this need, either. Children do need to feel loved and need some attention, to be heard and helped with school work, but I know from experience as a single Mom working two jobs, it doesn't require a SAHM to raise well adjusted kids.
I have raised three wonderful kids that have all graduated with honors. They all worked jobs, have gone on to college, got their homework done, and are emotionally well adjusted, all without a Dad around to help and without me at home to make sure they were doing their homework when they got home from school.