contributed by Priya of Dreaming in Suburbia
Friends are funny beings. You don’t really know someone is your true friend until you’ve shared an experience, a situation or perhaps a problem that’s been eating away at you and they (the friends’ I mean) help you solve it. Well anyway, while I was killing myself over whether I should finally take the plunge and become a SAHM - with all the emotional baggage that went with it - I remember speaking to many many women - but two of them stand out in my memory. Suprizingly, both of them did not have children. One of them was not even married ! But they both taught me something important, and when I look back now, I think were instrumental in shaping my decision to become a SAHM.
(NOT that I’m a huge fan of all mothers being SAHMs. I am however, very much in favor of each mom doing what she feels is the right thing for her own family. So please don't think of this as a flame. Its just something I'd like to share with all of you.)
The first, N, was a colleague of mine at the place where I worked. She was born and brought up in the City (that’s New York City for those of you that don’t know) and lived there until she was well into her twenties. She had a manic depressive mother, and was often had to act as the grown up in the family from the age of 13 onward. By the time she was thirty, she was trapped in a marriage that was going nowhere, a career that was going nowhere, a life that seemed permanently derailed.
So, she sat down and wrote a list of all the things she wanted to do in the next twenty five years of her life. Surprizing, even to herself, she found that she wanted to be a farmer. Have lots of animals, be a homesteader and still have a day job doing something she loved. She quit her then job, divorced her husband and moved up to Connecticut. For the next eight years, she worked toward her degree, she found the rules and regulations concerning owning and operating farmland and began saving up to own a farm. She met her second husband while wish-driving around the neighborhood where she would have liked to buy the land for her farm. For the past eleven years, they are both proud owners of a seven acre farm, two pigs, three cows, two goats and innumerable chickens, ducks and turkeys. They have a proper farmhouse, complete with barn, sty and pond. And she works full time doing what something she loves.
When I asked her, “But what an awful risk. What if you failed? What if you ended up in a worse place than you were before ?” And she told me,”I had two choices, I could either change my dreams and hopes and then make the best of what I had, or I could break out and start fresh. I did the latter, because I could never live with myself knowing that I never even tried because of fear of failure. You have one life, you can’t be afraid to make the most of it”.
I said,”You say that now, because everything turned out OK”. And she told me,”Yeah, but it wasn’t always OK. When you are struggling against something adverse, you don’t know that things are going to be ok. They may actually be going down the pooper. It’s your attitude to change that matters. If you feel like being a SAHM, think carefully, plan accordingly, take the plunge - and don’t ever look back.”
The second person who really helped me was Lynne. She worked at her mom’s sandwich shop (which, by the way, serves the best sandwiches on the entire Eastern Seaboard). She was in her mid-thirties, had quit her job as a junior partner at a prestigious CPA group two years ago then, was not married and had no prospects of doing so. But she was so bubbly and effervescent that I couldn’t help asking her,”Don’t you ever regret quitting your job?”.
She said,”I regret losing the big bucks, but not the job. I was working 100 hour weeks, with no life, no time and no happiness. Look at my life now. Sure, most people would say I’m nuts. My own mother was dead against me quitting my job. I make minimum wage, live with my mom and I’m not married. I’m not pretty enough or rich enough to tempt anyone to make me an offer. I’m thrity six and I don’t have children - probably will never have them. But you know what ? I am happier than I ever was in the ten years I was working. Its about what you want - not about what everyone expects you to want. If you want to become a SAHM, go ahead. Just remember not to compare your life as a Working Mother to your life as a Stay At Home Mother. That’s the secret to happiness - compete, but never compare”.
And because she’s such a funny person, she shared the story of how she quit her job:
One evening she was working late (as usual) getting somebody’s books in order, when she fainted. Clear out of the blue, she fainted. Everyone rushed over to her office and after the first aid was administered and she regained consciousness, her boss called her into his office.
Boss:”Lynn, are you OK ? Are you feeling tired ? Are you planning a little vacation?”
Lynn: "No, I’m fine. yeah, I’m tired, but that’s because I work ten hours a day, for not very much money. Now if I was senior partner….”
By this time Lynn realized her Boss was struggling to say something. She stood by expecting the worst,
Boss (blurting out): “Your pregnant isn’t it ? That’s why you fainted isn’t it ?”
Lynn (with a totally disgusted look on her face): "O my God, like this job leaves me any time to get pregnant ! You know what - I quit.”
Amen to friends like that. :)