Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Raising four children doesn't pay in cash.

I have a job interview today. Why? Simply put, like every other stay at home mom, I don't make any money. In a moment of disparity, I went out of my comfort zone and put my resume in at a local coffee shop. When they asked to meet me and then called later to schedule an interview, my stomach churned. 

What have I done? 

I have this great gig where I don't have to wear pants, why on earth would I want a job where I have to act like a grown up?! There are so many moms out there that HAVE to go to work to make ends meet. That HAVE to say goodbye to their sweet babies every morning in order to pay the bills. And I am beyond blessed in that I am not one of those moms. I do not envy them. what they have to do is heartbreaking and sacrificing and I am in no way devaluing what they must do. I get to see every smile, every laugh, the first time they crawl, walk, run, sing... I've kissed every owie, heard every joke, received every hug, and at the exact moment in which they wanted to give one. And now I sit here with knots in my stomach, wondering why on earth I would want to trade those irreplaceable moments in for minimum wage.

And this is where it gets dicey. Our medical insurance sucks. There, I said it. We have four kids. They get sick. Heck, I get sick. A LOT. We are paying far more than we ever did before. I used to be able to buy a box of cereal for less than $2 but since moving to Arkansas, that price is no where to be had. Milk is a dollar more than it is in Oregon. We pay a $50 fee every month on our water bill to help protect some dumb endangered cave fish (Disclaimer: I apologize for saying dumb, I appreciate endangered species and know that we need to do our part to protect them, but in this instance, I'm merely complaining about the extra cost I wasn't planning on paying when I moved across the country). I know it's not huge, but it adds up. These are all costs we didn't calculate when my husband took this new job that I feel I need to compensate for. 

But let's get real people, I have always felt the need to contribute monetarily since I had my first baby almost 8 years ago. I've been making and selling headbands, accessories, dolls, whatever I can, for years now. Every day when I have a free moment to myself, I think of ways I can make money. I have a website, I will go ahead and plug it, no shame: Http://www.thepaisleynderground.com, where I sell the stuff I make. I even have a DIY blog that links to my website that I created in the hopes of getting enough traffic that I can make money off of google Adsense. In fact, yesterday I was brainstorming ways I can sell tutorials on Etsy, on how to make the things I make so that I can make some extra cash. And I love creating, I do. But the real reason I create these things and sell them... Because I feel inadequate. Because after all of the hours I put in, at the end of the day, I don't see a paycheck. Don't get me wrong, the hugs, the kisses, the smiles, giggles, "I love you"s... They are totally worth it, but they don't pay the bills. 

There was a time when women were expected to stay home. When a Homemaker was a proud title to have, not something people saw on a medical form in the "job" area and said, "oh, so you don't work?" 

Sometimes my reaction is defensive... 

Do you have any idea how much I DO in fact work? How about I trade you "jobs" and we see who works? I have one of the hardest "jobs" there is, making sure that these four small souls grow up knowing how to be patient, kind, loving, smart, hard working, positive contributors to society, all while they scream and throw food at me.

Other times my reaction is one of embarrassment. 

You're right, I don't work. I don't make any money. I don't pay the bills. I. Am. Worthless. 

My husband makes good money. I don't NEED to work. I don't NEED to contribute. But there's this gut response every time I go to the grocery store, pay the bills, buy a coffee (because I was up for two hours and couldn't sleep and then the baby decided he wanted a midnight snack and I can barely function)... It's guilt, it's a knee-jerk reaction of "I don't make money and therefore I can't spend money."  I don't think I've ever met another stay at home mom who hasn't felt this way at one point or another, if not all the time. 

I'm not here to tell you that society is wrong. That you have value, that what we endure while staying home, raising our children to be people of worth is one of the hardest jobs there is. You and I already know that. No one has to tell us that we are valuable. Our children tell us. Maybe not in this moment, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in words, but in the way they treat others, in the way they love, in their hugs and deeds and ability to function outside of us, in a chaotic world...  THESE are our reminder that we are of something more worthy than money.

It doesn't mean I don't have days like the other day when I haphazardly took my résumé in to a coffee shop thinking to myself, "heck yes, a job... I will make money. I will be worthy. I will get a break from the screaming and the fighting and the food throwing."  Those days happen... a lot. The grass is alwats greener... There are days when my husband comes home and I tell him, "I quit. It's your turn with the crazies... I'm gonna go get a job." Maybe I'm bipolar. But what mother isn't? It's a coping mechanism. How else are we capable of being the disciplinarian and the fixer of owies at the same time?

So today I am in a unique situation. Instead of going into this interview wanting to wow them, I have the opportunity to go in with the mindset of, "this job must wow ME. It has to be something I love to do." Because I already have a job that I love. A job where I am irreplaceable. A job where I am of the greatest value. 


Crystal Kupper said...

I hear you.

Carrie Jones said...

Thanks Crystal. If I could write as eloquently as you and get paid to do so, I might just take that opportunity as well. ;)