I've recently been reading up on Linda Hirshman and her "Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World". I won't bother to respond to that in this post (another day for sure!), but it did get me thinking about my decision to choose home.
I am the owner and Broker-in-Charge of my real estate company. Actually, that's a fact that only my closest friends are even aware of. It just doesn't come up in conversation that often anymore. I quietly sell a few homes and my husband and I flip a house or two a year. It's what I do, not who I am. However, this conclusion wasn't as easily reached as typing it out implies.
Once upon a time, I had a more publically based company, with seven agents, and a secretary. I had ads in all the local media and I worked about 50 hours a week. I diligently sought listings and even more diligently sought buyers for those listings. I spent hours in Realtor classes and was on the Education committee of our local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). I owned business suits and a briefcase. I had arrived....at least on the surface, where things are shallow and thin. I was making what almost anyone would term "good money", and I was the modern woman. I am educated and hard-working. (notice that is present tense!) I was also spiralling into what could only be called choas, with a smile and a business suit.
If my life had been a home listing, the advertisement would have read:
"Exceptionally well kept home with a beautifully landscaped yard. Located in the best school district with all forms of entertainment near by! Large formal areas and executive style exterior. Please call to schedule an appointment as the interior is a mess"
The interior was a mess. The places where I spent my time and the essence of home was in complete disarray. I was one of those houses that has great exterior features, but the inside has no flow. The rooms were difficult to navigate and the layout wasn't working. I needed some major reconstruction and so did my marriage and my family, but I couldn't figure out where to begin. It was especially difficult because, for the most part, I often heard how great my life must be. How awesome it must be to be in "charge" and successful. Really? It is? Well, it didn't feel like I was in charge, and I am convinced that "success" is a subjective word.
So, after much fighting with myself and an honest analysis of what "I" wanted from the life I've been given, I approached my husband with my thoughts. We discussed what we needed, and then what we wanted, monetarily. We discussed what we would like our home to reflect and where we each could give in certain areas to make our goals actually happen. Essentially, he supported me fully. Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't really suriprised, because he's just flat out a great guy, but I suppose I did think that because I had convinced myself that I was "downgrading", that he might think so to. I was wrong. Completely wrong...and I can't tell you how thankful I was/am that my husband viewed this job I was choosing as even more important that the "professional" life I had previously chosen.
I think that many women have convinced themselves that they really can have it all. I admit, I don't understand how they are convincing themselves of that. Reality simply isn't reflecting what the MSM is trying diligently to convince us of. Sorry...it's just not. Reality is showing divorce rates that are through the roof (although they have come down a little in the last five years!) and children who have no civic sense of responsibility. Reality is showing a culture who accepts infidelity as almost normal and that single motherhood is either a "victim" or a valid "family" choice. (Unless you were raped, all single motherhood is a choice, by the way. Sex is a volitional act and it's the only thing that creates children...just sayin')
The reality is that often many things are done well, but almost nothing is done with true excellence when we women convince ourselves that we can have it all. Why? Because we cannot do it all, and consequently, we can not have it all. I know this from experience. We must make a choice where our truest energy and our most diligent focus is going to fall. For me that choice was home. For me, that choice was my family, my children and my husband. For me, that choice was one that brought me more peace, more happiness and more contentment than I was aware was even able to be had!
So, let's place Mrs. Hirshman in her proper place in our lives. She proclaims that as a philospher she, and others like her (she actually equates herself to Socrates! Ummm....ok, then. Do you own a history book?) have been telling others how to live their lives for years, centuries even. She also proclaims that stay-at-home moms are unfulfilled and are unfairly cheating themselves from the fulfillment of work.
Again, I'll touch on most of this in another post another day, but her biggest gripe actually seems to be if the housework gets divided equally and that women shouldn't have to do all of it. OK, but what if that is their job that they've chosen? Do most "working" women ('cause us measly housewives and moms must not "work") split their chosen jobs equally with others? What if they don't want to "split it equally" because there's plenty of "man" chores that I don't split equally, nor do I want to? What if our homes aren't places of perfection that are merely there to announce our affluence, but more importantly represent the family within it? What if we, in choosing home, have declared our homes to be the place where our family's happiness, safety and yes, fulfillment, are culminated because it's...well, home? What if running the home actually is where we find fulfillment, and we're perfectly content to let our husbands bring in the majority of the dough?
Here's something a little telling about Mrs. Linda Hirshman: She actually suggests that women intentionally marry men who make less so that the women hold the monetary power in the home, and by doing so we will shift the tides on women being seen as unequal to men. ...sigh... Really? This is how you would suggest a woman find her partner? Seriously? Obviously, I think Mrs. Hirshman was probably dropped as a child. It's the only thing that can explain her utter lack of understanding of marriage, love, partnership and home. At least as far as "life as we know it", goes.
And for the record, my man cooks, cleans, watches the kids, sweeps, does laundry, cuts the grass and washes the cars. And yes, I do much more than that, because it's my chosen "profession" and I love it. But, to suggest that stay-at-home moms are unfulfilled is basically...well...bovine scatology, at best! And, to suggest that us poor stay at home moms are merely nothing more than domestic slaves is is just as much bull as suggesting that only by having a "true" profession can you find yourself and reach your "potential".
I choose home because having dinner together every night with my family was more important that having a business dinner and because making our house a home was a goal that held relevance and long term satisfaction. I choose home because I made a choice to have four children and they have the right to have a home that is peaceful, harmonious and thriving. I choose home because it's where I'm supposed to be and I'm grateful for that. I choose home because it gives me the opportunity to actually be the help mate that God intends me to be to my husband. I choose home because I am no longer buying what the world is selling. I choose home because my job now has long term goals that are going to affect the people I love and care about most in the whole world. The importance of that is not lost on me and I refuse to allow the world to tell me otherwise.
I drank from the worldly cup, and it turns out that it's nothing more than a really pretty cup with absolutely nothing inside it. I found out that if I continued to drink from that cup, I'd soon be the same way. No thanks. The one thing Linda Hirshman and I do agree on is that women deserve better than what they're getting.