Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'm a SAHW

A stay-at-home-wife, for those of you not versed in the lingo. Although that's not the title I prefer. I like queen of all I survey. Head gardener. Master chef. Home decorator. And if you must call me a SAHW, call me a SAHW extraordinaire. Might as well. Why not?

What separates me from the SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) is the lack of children. I'm sure some think that this makes me selfish and lazy. The truth is that I'm a headcase. And I'm weak. And I struggle just to get up in the morning because I sleep so poorly at night. But I also got to be there for my mom for three weeks when she got out of the hospital. And I'll get to be there for my husband while he's working his way through nursing school. In a me, me, me culture, I like those things.

I spent high school preparing myself for a career in music. I saw myself as becoming a music history professor and not getting married until I had a masters degree. Then I met the guy who'd become my husband. I quit music school and got a bachelors in creative writing. I got married at 21--I still don't have a masters degree. What changed? I realized there are things more important than having a career. Like all the other SAHWs and SAHMs out there, I realized that family was more important. Yes--I'm a feminist nightmare.

An article has been circulating among my friends on Facebook (alas, I'm back on Facebook) about being a SAHM. I wanted to write about being a SAHW. It's not the same--I know the work I do isn't nearly as hard as what moms do--but I don't think it's without merit. Some women want careers, and more power to them. But I realized that for me that hardest and more rewarding work I could do was being at home. It was so unlike anything I'd planned for myself. Seven or eight years ago, I realized that all the work I'd ever done composing music and writing poems didn't measure up to the music and poetry in vacuuming the carpet in my tiny apartment. And when I'm on my own, watching the dogs run about the yard or tending my garden or cooking dinner, I get that feeling again.

I used to be most apologetic about my lack of gainful employment. I was embarrassed, but it was outweighed by my fear of getting a job. Once I became Orthodox, that started to disappear--seems that self-worth in the Church isn't measured by your career choices. Nice change of pace. I still think about getting a job or starting some sort of career, but then I think of being there for Mom and the desire dissipates.

Someone else on Facebook posted this today:
“Do whatever falls to your hands,
in your circle and in your situation–
and believe that this is and will be your true work;
nothing more from you is expected.
It is a great error to think that you must
undertake important and great labours,
whether for heaven, or, as the progressives think,
in order to make one’s contribution to humanity.
That is not necessary at all. It is necessary only
to do everything in accordance with the Lord’s commandments.
Just exactly what is to be done? Nothing in particular,
just that which presents itself to each one
according to the circumstances of his life,
and which is demanded by the individual events
with which each of us meets.”
St. Theophan the Recluse from “The Spiritual Life”
So I keep a vegetable garden and cook and take pictures. When people I know need help, I'm free to be there for them. I go on vacations. I think of having foreign students stay in our house when we're on our feet. I have "Cook It Your Own Damn Self" dinners on Thursday nights (the only time I get to eat mushrooms because Chris hates them). I love my family. I'm there for my husband, my parents, my friends. I don't want to fly in the face of feminism--I just want to be happy with my life. And I am.


Pelagia said...

God Bless you and what you do!

Jonelle said...

I'm a SAHW too. The part-time job I did have for 5 years ended last year when I was laid off. I was having panic attacks before every shift, so my boss actually did me a favor by letting me go.

I sometimes get the urge to look for another job. But then when I have bad days (like today), I'm thankful that I don't have a job.

THank you for writing this, Chandler :)

LSB said...

I love you, my beautiful daughter! Thank you . . .