Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Came Early: Santa Made Me a Housewife.

I recently made a life-changing decision: I consciously chose to leave the workforce. Yes, I did it on purpose. And no, I don’t have another job lined up right now. It might not be a permanent change, but for now I’m going to to prepare our house for sale, manage the move, get us settled into a new house, and then reassess the situation. And right now, I love it.


It's time for some real talk about women, work, and how we define ourselves, y'all.

The most uncomfortable thing about leaving my job was my fear of what other people would think. Like it or not, we’re defined by our work. When you meet someone new, the first thing they ask is “What do you do?” If I wasn’t working outside the home, would they assume I’m stupid? Would they think I’m a sad, repressed person who has no life? Would they think I’m lazing in my nightgown eating chocolates all day? I was honestly afraid of this.I’m literally the only childless stay-at-home person in my friend group, so I don’t have a personal frame of reference.

But I decided not to live in fear of other people’s opinions.

And this choice makes sense for us for so many reasons.

The first reason is that my job wasn’t working for me anymore. My position at the library had snowballed into three times the job I was originally hired to do, but without a corresponding pay raise or an extension of my hours. It was nearly impossible to do all my work in the allotted time. I was always anxious and snappish when I was at work, and I came home brittle and angry. To add insult to injury, my paychecks were painfully small.

The second reason, believe it or not, was money. When we took a hard look at the numbers, we saw that I could add more value to our net worth by quitting my low-paying job and spending the next few months repainting, doing home repairs, and staging our condo so we get a better price when we sell it.

Mind blown, amirite?! It’s crazy to think that you can add more value to your household by NOT working outside the home. But if your paycheck is low enough, it might be true. I keep finding little examples of this. Like yesterday, when I groomed our dogs and realized that we used to spend more money on dog grooming than I earned in a day. Cha-ching! Not working outside the home is paying off.

The third reason is warm, fuzzy, and impossible to quantify but infinitely valuable: Quality time. When we were both working, my husband came home from work and said Hi, then went in opposite directions to do chores and run errands. We usually didn't eat dinner until 10:00, and we usually ate crap food from a box. Real food? Ain't nobody got time for that!

But now when he comes home, everything is already in order, so we can spend more time together. We eat dinner at dinnertime. Evenings are *gasp* spent relaxing. And best of all, WE’RE NOT EATING CRAP FOOD OUT OF BOXES ANYMORE. I can’t begin to tell you how happy that makes me. 

Before I left the library, we considered all the options. One of those options, of course, was to hire someone else to help around the house. It would've taken the pressure off of us at the end of the day, but it didn't address Problem #1. It hardly seemed prudent to work at a job that made me sad so I could pay someone to do the things that make me happy.

Because here's the crazy thing: I actually enjoy cooking and cleaning and general domesticity. That shouldn't be a surprise, since  a significant portion of my blog is dedicated to home decor. I'm more Martha Stewart than Marissa Mayer, and I'm okay with that. Furthermore, I'm lucky to be married to a dude who enthusiastically appreciates what I do at home, and his gratitude makes me glow. I don't feel like a downtrodden domestic drudge; I feel valuable and appreciated. Maybe it's just an extension of newlywed bliss, but right now my passion is making our house a happy home.

Not everyone shares that passion, and I know my passion raises some eyebrows. I was especially aware of that two weeks ago, when a friend asked me if her journalist buddy could interview me. Why? Because she’s writing an article for Cosmo about women who embrace the Lean In movement, and women who have chosen “an alternative to the movement.” At first I just laughed. I didn't realize that being a housewife is so radical these days! But I was game for it, and I enjoyed our phone interview. She kept repeating one thing I said that seemed to resonate deeply with her: “It seemed foolish to work a job that made me unhappy so I could pay someone else to do work I love.

I suppose that line sums up my experience right now: Right now I'm doing what I love, and it makes me happy.

9 comments:

  1. Well, I'm happy for you. Doing what you love is important, and so is loving what you do. I don't see anything wrong with women or men who are embracing traditional domesticity.

    I love our set up right now. I love working part time because I get both worlds. I plan meals and shop (because I enjoy it). My husband cooks (because he enjoys it).

    But...will you change the name of your blog (real important life questions over here)?

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    1. Thank you! It sounds like y'all have a good thing going, too. I like it.

      Haha, I wondered if anyone would ask about the blog title! I've been going around in circles on that one. Some hold the opinion that the title "librarian" is conferred upon one by virtue of holding an MLS degree. For now, I'm going to keep the name because people recognize it, because I do hold an MLS, and because I'm honestly not sure if this is a permanent situation.

      Six or eight months from now, when we're settled into a new home, I may seek out a part time library position at a different library and try something similar to you and Bigbad's setup. You make it sound tempting.

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  2. I loved this post because I just knew it was your authentic voice. I was recently at some corporate training entitled Women Leading Powerfully, and a big part of it was about women eliminating the "shoulds" from their lives and being PRESENT. I realized that I have a very different struggle from you... I want to be a corporate diva, I love having a maid to do my cleaning, and I can't stand people pushing me to get engaged, married, have kids, be what I don't want to be. (Although, I do love to cook and bake and decorate, and even dabble in sewing, so my friends consider me very domestic.) I was also incensed by this woman on Fox News who said women belong in the home because they are more suited to it and men need to feel important by earning all the money. Woof.

    Do you know what I want? I want your glorious domesticity and talents to be appreciated. I don't want people to act surprised when they find out you are a housewife without kids. I want people to understand that I live with my boyfriend "in sin" and have no plans to change my arrangement. I don't want people to act surprised when they find out I am the main breadwinner and that we've discussed Dan staying home part-time if we have kids. And I want people to stop judging my highly-educated friends who choose to be stay-at-home moms OR childless professionals.

    I want people to just accept that aside from equal pay for equal work, we've managed to win much of the battles we've fought to win as feminists... women are making CHOICES for themselves, and they are reaping the benefits of those choices. Am I right?

    I LOVE THIS POST because it shows how far you've come and how wonderful your present life is right now. It's glorious and perfect and you're blazing your own trail. I love love love it, and I celebrate our differences because we're finding our own imperfect perfection.

    #endrant

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    1. My cheeks are blazing right now from all your kind words. Thank you!

      But honestly, you said it so, so much better than I did. As long as we're making choices that authentically reflect who we are and what we value, I don't think we should be judged for our professional choices or our relationship choices. Period. Women belong WHEREVER WOMEN WANT TO BE. And I'll staunchly defend your right to be a corporate diva!

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    2. We should so get coffee sometime and be awesome feminists! LOL And we must have a mini-book club party when the last Selection book comes out.

      I just added Fairest of Them All to my Goodreads wishlist,

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  3. I agree completely. If you can afford not to work...why would you? I previously worked at a job I loathed. It made me feel like a shell of a human and I felt unappreciated and dumbed down by it. Due to cutbacks I lost my job a year ago and by happenstance am more financially stable and more emotionally stable than I have been in years. This is not to say I'm never going back to a 9-5 and leaving the gypsy life that I have lived the last year. But it has worked for me...and I feel like it's a waste to live a life you loathe

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  4. I am so happy for you! And I totally agree! I myself made the decision too! It was for a few different reasons, but some of which were the same. It is awkward to get the "What do you do?" question, but since I sell on Etsy and have a space at a local mall, I tend to answer with "I'm an antique dealer."

    Being a housewife does not make you "less of a woman" or "anti-feminist", feminism is about being equal, and doing what you want to do, and if staying at home and taking care of stuff at home is what you want, the do it, and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise!

    xoxo
    -Janey

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  5. Girl, I don't say this too often but anyone who gets butthurt about your situation is just jealous. I mean, I love and appreciate you and I'm jealous haha! (Jealous in the nicest way possible, though, no bad vibes here!). I think it's awesome that you have this opportunity and ps I'm working parttime let's get coffee sometime and pretend like we're slackers PLS :)

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  6. That's fantastic! It's such a scary jump to take, but chasing your happiness is totally worth it! Congrats!

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P.S. All trolls will be fed to the bookworms.