Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What is Work?

Note to a friend~

When you tell me that I “need to get a job” you are saying that what I do has no value. That if I’m not bringing home a paycheck, I have no value. The implication is that I have 8 extra hours a day in which to do something productive. That the hours I spend gardening and canning and cooking and baking bread are obviously wasted ....frivolous. And dear friend, it hurts that you think so little of what I’ve chosen to spend my life doing.

24 years ago, the decision was made for me to stay home and raise our children. We were fortunate that Steve’s job as a teacher paid well enough for us to have that option. Though we lived without some of the luxuries that others take for granted we have never regretted that choice. As the kids have grown up and I’m needed less for child care we’ve made the decision to live a more self-sustainable lifestyle and my time is now spent pursuing that goal…and so far, no regrets there either.

I'm not sure why you think it's acceptable to judge my lifestyle choices since they don't involve dealing drugs or prostitution (and now that I mention it....those are jobs). I would never presume to tell you that you need to quit your job and stay home to take care of your family; I would appreciate the same consideration from you.


Anonymous said...

I envy you the choices you were able to make, and on which you continue to stand.

I see the children you have raised and right there in front of me is the evidence of your good gifts, the things given you by a Father who loves you, that as a mother you have passed on to these four young souls. I don't care what anyone says, a working mother cannot possibly raise children well. And yes, you can quote me on that.

Congratulations on speaking publicly about the unspeakably rude, short sighted comments you must endure. What you did, and continue to do, is be the foundation of the family and the example to not just the four people you created and nurtured, but the rest of us who are honored to know you and who learn from your wisdom and gentle example.

Anonymous said...

P.S: "Working mother" meaning working at a paying job, and not spending her time creating a home. Sorry, I was passionate and careless as a result.

Maureen said...

Thanks are a true friend and I am SO thankful to have you in my life. When I become weary from the doubts and the insecurities of not having a 'real' job, I need to remember why we chose this road to begin with.

...and toward that end, I may just print out your comment and stick it on the fridge:)

Rachel said...

Boo to said friend. There is no way I could do what you do and be successful at it. I spend the morning doing yard (not gardening) and I'm wiped and on the couch with a sore back for the rest of the day. Don't even ask me the first thing about how to make bread!

Maureen, I can guarantee you that what you put on your table is far healthier than what most people eat.

I commend you!


mamaraby said...

It's sad that we, as a society, overvalue the few and undervalue so many.

Steve said...



laurel said...

It is so discouraging to hear things like this. I see the awesomeness and value of this job (which is just as much work, if not more, as a 9-5 job, IMO) because my Mom did the same thing. Raising 6 kids and staying home and being not rich! It's so awesome and noble. You are raising the next generation! (One of whom I am particularly fond, haha).
I'm glad I was taught that traditional roles are a thing to look up to, not down upon and being a stay at home Mom is incredibly GOOD, not worthless.

~Laurel May~

cabinart said...

Maybe, just maybe, your friend was being sarcastic, as in "sheesh, Maureen, you are doing enough for 3 people, why not add a paying job to the list?" Maybe she thought your sole goal was to get 4 boys to adulthood, and now that you have reached the goal, there is an opportunity for you to try a new career.

Having been the recipient of similar rude comments along the lines of getting a job and keeping art on the side, I'm quite practiced in reviewing all the different ways such remarks may have been intended.

Failing that, just blow it off! 8-) You are a Domestic Goddess if ever there was one, and she'll be sorry she didn't emulate you when it the poopy hits the paddles and your family is warmed and filled while hers is wondering how to grow lettuce!

Maureen said...

Thanks ALL....I'd like to think I don't need propping up when I hear things like this....but I do. And I SO appreciate the support offered here.

Jana ~just so you know, she wasn't being sarcastic and it's not the first time she has offered 'helpful' advice along these lines. ...maybe I just need to find new friends;)

Anonymous said...

I'd say, yeah, find new friends, 'cuz that's some b.s. I am deeply disturbed by these notions of "real" work being tied solely to money, because it is so dehumanizing and rooted in misogyny. What have we become as a society when we only value those things which are tied to money, which oddly enough, has no genuine intrinsic value? (Money is based on fluff and unfounded faith in a broken system. WTH?!)

Although I complained about parts of it, "Radical Homemakers" was a great book that completely validates the uber productive act of homemaking. I'm also reading a great book now called "They Moneyless Man" by Mark Boyle that beautifully shines a light on just how "valuable" money really is.

Anyhoo, I echo the sentiments of folks here--you are a domestic goddess of the highest order. What you share with us here of how you care for your family, your home and the land that feeds you always inspires me. There is simply no work on this earth more important and those you love and blessed to receive all the goodness of your hard work.

Short version: Your "friend" can suck it.

Maureen said...

Thanks Aldra....I love you too:)

Hey, that book (Moneyless Man) sounds intriguing; I'll have to put it on my Amazon wish list. Thanks again for taking the time to prop up your internet friend....much appreciated!

vinesearch said...

Thanks for posting this Maureen. I've had some real difficulty with approaching the time when all of our children would be and now are in school. Most all of my friends are working for a paying job, at least during the school hours. We are fortunate to not need me to work, so I chose to put those energies into the non-profit. It has taken me (9) months to finally answer the "are you working" question with a "yes". Why is that so difficult to say, when it doesn't come with a paycheck? I'm happy to say that answer now comes with some confidence behind it. I'm finally proud of what I'm doing, not that I never thought it was not worthy, but that I've finally accepted my jobs value. And you know, its hard to find the time to dedicate the time to work sometimes, between volunteering in the kids classes and spending 2 weeks caring for them at home with when they had the flu and picking them up from school and spending most afternoons with them... I dont know ANY employer who would give me the hours I need to balance my family and work. And frankly, there is no other job out there could give me the value that I am getting from my current job!

You have every reason to be proud of the career you have created. I second the "domestic goddess" title. You have so much to admire! There is nothing that can pull you down more than unsupportive friends, send the letter. I'd say get new friends, but you already have such a huge, supportive group, cut the ties with the ones who don't value you as a person, truly, it's not worth it!

Maureen said...

Ashley, I find it hard to believe that someone who does all that you do could ever question their place in this life. Why in the world do we listen to the doubts brought on by a society where cash is the single most important VALUE???

My memory of watching your husband tear up at the mention of your name because he felt he couldn't put into words how much he appreciated all that you do, still brings tears to MY eyes. Your ability to care for your children, garden, deal with Maya's special needs and to do it all while whipping up the latest Vietnamese veggie and noodle dish....amazes the entire family. No pressure here, but you guys are our heroes.

So I thank you for your support and encouragement. Our life and how we have chosen to live it is OUR choice and I am going to try to not let the naysayers get to me....but I make no promises:)

vinesearch said...

Thanks, and amen sister (in law)! Your post really struck a nerve with me. I expected the judgement of " now that your kids are all in school aren't you going back to work". It's hard to imagine someone not respecting your established lifestyle of sustainability! We should really all strive to be a little more so:)