This post begins 14 days of blog posts that might be a little out of the ordinary around here. I am participating in The Scintilla Project. It’s a writing project designed to get me to explore my writing skills and find the joy in writing for others. I sincerely hope it will give you an opportunity to know me better. I hope you’ll comment frequently and share your own thoughts on the prompt of the day. And don’t worry – regular crafting, DIY and organizing posts won’t go anywhere – the project will be in addition to. Also – giveaway coming up this weekend. 🙂
Who am I?
Well…that should be an easy question. I just completed my About Me page up there so I’m done, right? Uh, not so fast.
I know I’ve touched on this in the last couple of weeks, but this is a question I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. We cling to labels in our society – daughter, wife, mother, blogger, teacher, employee, boss, master, student, amateur. Some of those apply to me. Obviously I was someone’s daughter (still am). I’m a wife (I’ll get to that in a minute…). I was a teacher. I am a blogger. I like to think I’m a student. It’s easy to cling to these labels. They are what help us determine where people fit in our lives and where we fit in society. The only problem with any of that is when we start to use our labels to force people into our definitions of who they should be rather than who they are.
I’ve seen this a lot as a young woman. (I’m 32. Yes, that’s still young.)
When I was in my early twenties roughly 10 years ago, many of my friends were finishing school and getting married. I, however was “just” finishing school (school I had quit, two years in and returned to while working full time – but I guess that wasn’t impressive enough). I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “When are you going to get a fella and get married?!” Or, “Well you’re next! Let’s find you a husband.” As if it were that easy. Like I could just walk into Target and grab one off the rack. I know some women who would appreciate that option actually…but I digress.
Then, in my mid-twenties all of those friends started having babies. Since I wasn’t married, I lucked out in a way. Couldn’t have babies when we were still “finding me a fella.” (I’ll take a moment while you finish laughing. Let me know when you’re ready to resume, OK?)
Let’s fast forward to 2010. The Hubs and I were living together and planning our wedding…over a thousand miles away from family and friends. This didn’t set well with people. It didn’t “fit” with what people had always assumed I’d do. I knew my stress level well enough to know that if I tried to plan a wedding in Florida, while I was living in Maryland, I’d go nuts so I opted for the least stressful option for me. Also, hubby and I had wanted a small wedding. We were both “older” (me 30, him 40) and we had both lost parents so a big dog and pony show wasn’t really what we were looking for. I had to keep telling people I didn’t want the big Princess wedding. I didn’t fit their bride label. We ended up getting married in a brew pub set in a historic building. Only a small portion of my family came. I guess labels matter – sometimes too much.
Ah but now here’s where it gets interesting. Now I’m a wife. I’m most proud of this label. Some people wouldn’t be. This used to be something people aspired to and now, well, it falls somewhere below career and mother. I couldn’t wait to sign my husband’s last name. I know many women today who wouldn’t dream of signing Mrs. Insert Husband’s Name, but I love it. Like, geeky love it.
As I’ve mentioned before (and really, it does define a lot of who I am right now), I lost my job two years ago. I went from “teacher” to “stay-at-home-wife”. Let me repeat that last bit for you: stay-at-home-wife. (I have to admit to you here that as I’m trying to grow the blog, I’m doing a lot of research. In one recent blogger chat, we were discouraged from using cliche’s like “stay-at-home-wife” or “stay-at-home-mom” because everyone does it and it’s not interesting…I find that funny.)
I’m going to pause here and tell you that in the beginning I wasn’t thrilled with this title. I thought I was a better human being when I worked outside of the home. Hubby and I have always agreed that we have a more traditional set of roles with a modern twist. He certainly doesn’t mind me working outside of the home, but we tend to fall into very traditional roles inside the home. This was never more apparent to me than when I was suddenly home all the time. (To his credit, he helps out quite a bit around the house – taking on the lions share of cleaning the kitchen – a job I hate and generally he’ll help with anything I ask – I just rarely ask. Love him for that.)
I can’t tell you how many people gave me pity looks and made the awww tone when I told them I’d lost my job. OK, fine, whatever – it was sad. But what was really interesting were the comments people made when I said I had embraced being a “housewife” and actually enjoyed it. It ran the gamut of pity, astonishment and disbelief. “Oh you’ll go back to work, you’re not cut out to sit around all day and do nothing.” (Oh how I wish sitting around and doing nothing was what I did…) I didn’t fit their wife label. It was like, by taking on this new role I’d taken a demotion. I was “just” a housewife.
If you recall, a few moments ago I mentioned that as friends got married everyone’s attention turned to finding me a husband. I thought that when I got married this would cease. And well – it has, only to be replaced by, “When are you going to have babies?”
Please, I implore you. When a friend gets married (and I know I’ve been guilty of this) DON’T start bugging them about babies.
This is only compounded by the fact that I am a stay-at-home-wife. I get lots of comments like this, “Well what do you do all day if you don’t work?” (I think that one gets on my nerves more than anything.) “Oh, it must be nice to have all of that free time.” (I about peed myself laughing the first time I heard that.)
I get lots of confused looks that imply things like this; “You stay at home, but you don’t have children?”, “Aww isn’t that cute that you’re happy about a new stand mixer/steam mop/set of towels pleasekillmeifIeverbecomelikeher.”, “Well she must be rich.” (Again, peed a little laughing – sorry)
I also get a lot of pity. But I don’t want pity. I’m happy that I’m a wife (though even there I had to refrain from saying things like “just a” – even I downgrade myself) and I’m extremely blessed that I get to be a stay-at-home variety. When did being someone’s wife become a second class aspiration? When did it become a placeholder between “single” and “mother”? What if I’m never a mother? It could happen. Does that mean I’m just lost somewhere without a purpose? In homekeeping purgatory? That’s ridiculous!
Who am I? I’m a Wife. And I’m more than OK with that.