To work or not to work

It’s hard for me to believe that there are still people out there who frown upon working moms.

It would appear that enjoying your job is worse than having one, since if you suffer in silence for the good of your family, if you happen to be one of those women who has to work to make ends meet, it is somehow more acceptable. Martyrdom is better than enjoying life, I’ve come to understand.

I’m one of those moms who has to work, but who is lucky enough to like it. I really wanted a home of our own, especially living in a foreign country as I do. I wanted a place that my kids could remember as their childhood nest. I dreamt of being able to stay here when they grew up and moved away, and have memories of Christmas mornings and school days.  I wanted a place with a tiny bit of a garden where we could stand barefoot of a Sunday morning and eat raspberries off the canes. So I worked harder. I got two jobs, and then three. And now we have our own little house, and the minute we moved in I knew we’d made the right choice. We all did. Even the Swiss husband knew it. But I lost some friends along the way who felt that I was enjoying my job too much. Enjoying yourself while providing for the family – this is a cardinal sin, it would seem.

Why is it that if you don’t work and don’t have a house, people feel sorry for you; but if you do work and achieve something, you’re tagged family-negligent?

I’d rather achieve something than let life just happen to me. Is that so bad?

There is this odd sense of nostalgia that leads many traditional families today to believe that we still live in the days of Pa Ingalls. That we can all own a farm and grow our own food, and actually make enough money to get by on that. But a life of rural sweetness is really only reserved for a select few: for the people who live in places were land is inexpensive and plentiful, and whose jobs pay enough to support an entire family. I agree, those people should be grateful. The contradiction is that Ma didn’t have a beautiful farmhouse and a life of sewing crafts; she could barely make ends meet in her nearly windowless sod house. She hated sewing and missed things in the East, like pickles and finery. I would venture to say that Ma (like Laura) would have worked had she had the chance, and bought her clothes ready-made. All the Ingalls family ever cared about was happy smiles all around no matter the circumstance.

Happy smiles all around. We have plenty of those.

This afternoon I’ll bake a spiced zucchini bread in between translations and press releases; I’ll kiss my children as they walk in the door and stay up late tonight making tomorrow’s sandwiches. But would it make me a better mom if my life looked cuter?

I’m a better mom when I’m myself, and no one else. At least that’s what the smiles around the table are telling me.

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4 thoughts on “To work or not to work

  1. you’re teaching your children not to be afraid of new things. you’re teaching them to celebrate their talents, find their niche, be flexible and work hard to achieve something. and you do give them time and attention and love. i know you do.

    Like

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