Married to the Empire

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

About work

I used to teach English. I've taught 9th graders and 6th graders. I liked both for various reasons, but I quit almost 8 years ago to be a stay-at-home wife. I was frequently sick when I taught, not to mention stressed out and without a life, so this really was a wise decision. I received a lot of flak for it, though, at the time. Apparently, it is not PC to be a SAHW these days, especially one without children. I often received the ubiquitous question I think most women who stay home are asked: What do you do all day? My smart-aleck response usually includes something about bon-bons and soap operas, but the real response is far less interesting. I clean the house, do the laundry, shop for groceries, take the cars in for service when necessary, run various errands, cook meals, watch for sales on necessities and a few of our wants, take the cats to the vet, handle the finances, and anything else that needs to be done to keep our household and our lives running.

Yeah, I know; lots of other women do the same things while holding down full-time jobs. Good for them. If that's what they want to do, more power to them. Truly, I'm happy for them! But when I tried to live that life, I was a constant ball of stress and illness. I'm not good at multi-tasking, which is really essential to trying to do it all. I can't even talk on the phone and do something else at the same time! So, I've chosen a life in which I don't have to be stressed all the time. It's what works for us.

I did start substitute teaching this school year. I did that back when I first quit teaching because we weren't ready to completely give up a second source of income, but I phased that out after a couple of years. I subbed this year initially to make sure we had plenty of cash to sock away into our savings. We were going to spend Christmas 2006 in London, and we wanted to pay cash for everything. Mission accomplished! Then I didn't sub at all for a while.

This spring I was asked to tutor at a local middle school for a couple of months to prepare struggling students for the reading portion of the TAKS test. (This is the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. In other words, the big-stakes testing that labels each school according to how well the students perform each year.) I worked 3 days a week for about 2 months. It was a good experience, but my husband and I learned something from that. We both like it better when I'm at home! He said I was grouchy the whole time since I was working 3 full days, then trying to fit in my weekly bible study group, church staff meeting, laundry, cleaning and errands into the other 2 days. (I'm not counting weekends here, and yes, my husband did help me.) And don't get me started on our food budget during that time! Let's just say there was a lot more eating out and buying over-priced convenience foods.

Lesson learned: I'm a SAHW for a reason. Our lives are just all-around better when I'm able to be at home to handle things, rather than running around trying to do everything in a Sherry Bobbins way (that's a Simpsons reference, btw). Sometimes it's good to be reminded of how good we actually have it!


JunkMale said...

Haha, couldn't help but notice your name. We in the JunkFamily are also big Star Wars fans, although perhaps not as big as your husband.

More power to you for your not-PC decision to stay at home, even without kids (gasp). My wife has done the same, and this was agreed upon even before we were engaged. It just makes life easier. I really don't know how two income couples manage life. Maybe they have better management skills than we do. Or maybe they're just unhealthier ;)

Ewokgirl said...

Hey, thanks for reading! Interestingly, my father was one of the ones who was most upset over my decision to stay home. I think he saw it as a waste of my expensive, private university education. Nevermind that my mom has always stayed home...

I wanted to tell you that I've read your blog before, and I was really touched by your story of your engagement and marriage. I'm really impressed with how maturely and graciously you handled the situation with your parents.

Dana said...

Good for you! You have to do what works for you and your family, not what society tells you.
I would LOVE to be a SAH ANYTHING! Unfortunately, I make more than twice what my husband does, so if one of us were to stay home,it would be him. (pout) Now that we are in the process of adopting two foster kids, I REALLY wish I could stay home. I'd like to home-school them (no offence meant towards your previous career), and I can think of HUNDREDS of things to do if I were home. I'd increase my greeting card business, make more bread, and do more volunteer work.
Plus, LOL, our house would be neater!