Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sadly?

Last weekend I accompanied Abby's high school orchestra on a little overnight trip to the University of Illinois. The trip was fine. Fun, actually.

The best part of the weekend was hearing Abby's orchestra play their 25 minute program. What a spectacular performance! Those kids can play!

I have to give most of the credit to their conductor. This woman is so hard-working; all weekend I noticed that she really loves what she does. She should be so proud of the work she is doing with those kids.

So if my following comments seem like I'm picking on her, I'm not. I have nothing but admiration for what she does. It's more a cultural thing that I noticed last weekend that I just have to get off my chest.

As the orchestra was warming up, their teacher was having them practice a difficult transition in one of the pieces. She was explaining to the kids that she wanted it to be a smooth transition, almost romantic-like.

As she was describing the type of flowing music she was looking for, she said to the kids, "Pretend you live in the 1950's and, sadly, you're a wife waiting for her husband to come through the door, and you're handing him a martini." Then she stopped herself and, as an aside said with a chuckle, "No, I guess I don't mean 'sadly'."

She knew the minute the word was out of her mouth that she shouldn't have said it. But it was too late. She had already given the impression to a roomful of high school students that being a wife who stays home is a "sad" thing to be.

Guess what. I'm one of those wives. I'm one of those mothers who stays home. (No, I don't hand my husband a martini when he walks in the door--B doesn't like martinis.) And you know what? I'm not sad at all.

Believe me, it took me a good number of years to get to this point. When my children were younger I was sad. I struggled. A lot. Those days were the hardest days of my life, and I would have given anything to just get a job and head to work in the morning.

But B and I had made a decision that someone would stay home with our kids when they were young. Financially, it just made the most sense to have me do it.

Now that my girls are older and, yes, my days are a little easier, I can say that I made the right choice to be home with them. I love being their mom; I love that I can walk Maggie over to school in the morning; I love that I can be home when they get home from school; I love the relationships that we share. It's a great job.

Here's the thing I keep thinking about. If the feminist movement of the '60's and '70's was about giving women choices, why is it considered "sad" if a woman makes the choice to stay home with her children? I mean, it is MY choice, is it not? And if I'm happy with my choice, why should others consider it sad?

I admit it, I was deeply offended by the off-handed comment made by this teacher. I'm usually not easily offended . . . at all . . , but one word--"sadly"--diminished the choice I have made. It made me feel small, worthless, and, yes, sad.

That's not how I want my daughters to look at the life I've chosen. And if they should make the same choice, I don't want them to think it's second best.

Should they choose to have a career and work while their children are small, I would support them in that too. Because there is no right or wrong way to do things.

The thing I want my girls to know, the way I would want them to look at their future choices, comes from I Corinthians 10:31 where it says, ". . . whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

As long as we remember that--no matter what we choose to do with our lives--we can be assured that we have chosen a life well-lived.

12 comments:

  1. Well said, Shelly. Very, very well said!

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  2. I love the way you said that! I just wish I could say it as eloquently! Thanks for continuing to express yourself this way Shelly!

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  3. Aw, Angie and Karen, thank you so much! I appreciate it.

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  4. I'm one of those wives, too, and am not sad at all. What does make me sad is that in this day and age there are people who still think of it as a 'sad' thing.

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  5. Having experienced both worlds, I have to say that being "Mama" is the best! Thanks for putting this on the table, Shel.

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  6. It's a crazy world isn't when people think that staying home with your kids is a second rate job as though you are not worthy enough to get a job in the work force and must 'sadly' stay home cause you can't do anything else. I hate going to a social gathering and answering the question "so what do you do?" and having to say that I am a stay at home mom. Immediately the conversation turns to the other female who has an exciting job and I am left out in the cold...UGH!

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  7. I stumbled across your blog today and wanted to say thank you. Today has been a day of dishes, laundry, wiping little hinnies, and more laundry... all the while the house is still revolving with stuff... it was a day that it would seem more rewarding to be working elsewhere again... but thank you for the reminder, reassurances in this post. Also, I scanned through some older posts and love them! Thanks!

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  8. I wonder if her comment was more an indictment of the very little choice those 1950s women had - compared to the choice you and I now have on whether to work or stay home. We shouldn't have to defend our choice but, we often do.

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  9. You go girl! Had an incident yesterday where someone "assumed" I was a working outside the home mom and then I sort of felt dumb having to say that I wasn't. But I DID say I was blessed to be able to stay home all these years because I am.

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  10. I do agree, Sheroll, and I think you're probably right. My "problem" (if you can call it that) with her comment was that in a small, offhanded way, she affected the thinking of a room full of vulnerable high school students. I guess we all do that in some way or another, whether it be with our religious views, our political views, or whatever views we hold. But I think we have to be careful with those offhanded comments--especially when kids comee into play.

    Make sense?

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  11. Absolutely, I understand - she held young minds at attention and used it to put forth her own views. Our Father I do believe is only looking for us to honor Him in all we do - at home or at a workplace. The challenge, is to not judge each other.

    S

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