How Great Thou Part

I’ve always respected an individual’s choice to stay at home or work. After all, these are intensely personal decisions which are often shaped by our own life experiences. I am fortunate that I have never met a working woman who has judged me for my choice to stay at home. I am equally as fortunate to have never met an at home mother who has criticized another for choosing to work outside of the home.

My mom was a single, working mother. I was extremely proud of her and what she accomplished. Losing my mother when I was twenty-eight played a significant role in my decision to stay at home.

I also realize that my mom and many others don’t have a choice.

We were in the position that we either needed to hire someone to replace me in our business or hire someone to watch our children.

I always say that no one should hold the power in a relationship, but no one should be powerless either.

In divorce, my choice to stay at home has left me powerless. I am in a position where money can be used as a weapon against me. I am also starting over after years of not having a career. It is confusing, no bewildering to me that in 2014 I am left to feel as though I made no contribution because I made an intensely personal decision to be at home with my children. A joint decision.

I don’t feel that I should defend myself that I helped build our business, run fundraisers, school events, our investments or the other so called, ‘legitimate’ contributions.

I feel that I can stand on my own merits of my ‘internal career’ rather than ‘outside profession.”

I wasn’t unmotivated. I was motivated to work for free.
I wasn’t lazy. I was energetic in love.
I wasn’t not working. I was caring for my children and volunteering.

I didn’t receive a paycheck. I didn’t receive a title. I didn’t receive a raise.

I did do something valuable. I did get called mom. I did receive praise.

I don’t regret a thing. I loved it all. It was where my life led me.

My sister once told me, “Colleen, don’t let anyone make you feel your choice is not of value. This country was once built upon women like you that laid the foundations in our hospitals, schools and charitable organizations. They did this while staying at home with their children.” My sister has her doctorate, has been a college professor and has traveled this country for the World Health Organization. Even with her high career accomplishments she valued and respected that each of us take different paths in life.

I did contribute.

Financial success shouldn’t be the only indicator of time well spent. There are many jobs in this country that people do for free, for lower pay than should be acceptable or for more pay than should be allowed.

I shouldn’t feel like ‘less’ when for me personally this made me feel like ‘more.’

I hope you choose to share this column.

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