Monday, January 24, 2011

On shedding guilt

As an education major I didn't have any guys in my section save one: Alex. He was there from the first education course through my masters. I saw him sometimes during internships joking with students or having lunch with them in the cafeteria but we never exchanged a word until our last semester. I heard teaching gets easier after the first year, I said. To which he snorted and laughed. I'm not going to be a teacher for more than a year. I'm going to be an accountant. That's going to be my real job. What man would make teaching their profession? The question that remained unanswered and until today I wondered was then why on earth are you majoring in education?

When people ask me what I do, I fumble. I'm a lawyer, but I'm home with my baby right now, and uh, I write. I mean, you know, I want to be home while he's small, but I'm going to go back to work. . . Yep, that guilt I wrote about feeling as a SAHM a few months back? Still there.

Then I read this article Baraka shared with me a few months back that despite making less money, working fewer hours with less upward job mobility, women in the Netherlands are not sweating it. They're happy. It reminded me that the guilt is a situational guilt of being a product of a culture in which a great deal of value and expectation is placed on working full time. I began feeling more at peace with my choice, proud in fact, and then. . .

I read this article [also shared by Baraka] about very compelling reasons not to be a SAHM since the financial consequence of doing so in the long-term are statistically grim. After reading that article, part of me wanted to print out a bucketful of resumes and post them on every telephone pole in town and the other part me of wanted to say. . .

Who cares? Because the truth is while being a SAHM is understandably not for everyone, I love it. I imagined drudgery, loneliness, monotony, but instead its the happiest I've ever been. I love waking up next to him in the morning, watching him play at my feet while I chop salad for dinner. And speaking of dinner, I love having the time now to try new things and expand our dinner rotations. I love working on my novel while he naps, and focusing on my other creative pursuits [oh- and reading articles- clearly I love to do that!] Do I sometimes miss the camaraderie of coworkers and power lunches? Yes. But not enough to leave this behind. Not yet.

In my last post about this, Sharee pointed out, We women are always looking for reasons to feel guilt whether it's over eating the last cookie or taking a well-deserved nap. She's right. I do care about my future career prospects but the time to worry about that isn't now. Right now? I'm working on a novel. I'm caring for my son. And I am happy.

I finally understand Alex. He didn't want to be an accountant. He loved teaching. But he thought as a man he shouldn't. If the life path you choose is one you can embark on with a clear conscience, a sense of dignity, and joy because you're doing what you love, there should be no guilt. Being home with my son fits the bill to a tee and I am not going to feel guilty about it anymore.

13 comments:

Tauqeer said...

You shouldn't.

kmina said...

I am happy you do not feel guilty. As you already know, I am also guilt free.

As for the pride taken in your education and qualifications, I can relate to that. I tell myself that I may be just a mum who can only talk about her son's sleep habits or lack thereof, but hey, I can say that and have lengthy conversations about it in 5 languages. And with a bit of help, in 3 more. Am I still smug? Hell yeah! Does that change anything? Of course not.

And just an opinion - I had a quick look on those articles. The Dutch are quite special, it's not quite fair to compare them with anyone, not even neighbours. After all, it takes some special people to have drugs sold legally and yet have the same if not lower no. of drug addicts.
And the other one, about the unemployed divorced mother - one key word is divorced. I know no one starts a marriage thinking about a divorce and the most common of the mistakes is to think that 'this will not happen to me'. But to plan ahead for a possible future in which I am divorced from my husband and need to support my child by myself is not really spelling out 'happiness' for my marriage. At least not in my world. So I am taking a leap of faith. And will reconsider the job matter some time later. And live guilt free until then. Just like you. ;-)

Aisha said...

Thanks Tauqeer!

Kmina- I know youv'e been good about that, being happy with your choice not regretting this precious time. I never did- but I felt guilty. I'm done for now. And yes- you're right about the article- its a sad way to look at it all. . . but the crux of the situation is that the longer your'e out of the job market the harder it will be and I do plan once the kids are older to go back to working world- and the article is grim about the odds ... still will climb that mountain when I get to it.

Anisa S. said...

Oh, Aisha...you are so incredibly lucky to be able to stay home with your son! I think people who write articles trying to convince you of the opposite are just jealous! Sure, you would have more money if you worked full time. Duh. You already knew that. But you wouldn't have this priceless experience. Relish in it! Good for you not feeling guilty anymore.

Aisha said...

Anisa, thank you, you are right- I am veyr blesed and I do realize that- what are your plans?

Banshee said...

Good - you shouldn't feel guilty!

I too struggle with the guilt. You've inspired me to just let it go. :)

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear it!

Aisha said...

Banshee- I'm glad I inspired this! :)

Anon- thanks :)

raisingbrainchild said...

I remember sitting in my OB's exam room explaining why I could not stop trying to breastfeed. She said to me, "Stop feeling guilty. As a mom, you have way too many things to feel guilty about."

Easier said than done, right? I understand how you feel. I left a BigLaw job a couple of years ago, because I HATED it, but sometimes I still feel guilty about not pursuing that high-powered career. The people who are immersed in that world have convinced themselves that that is the place to be. And, maybe it is for them. But, not for me. I am working part-time right now and am home with DD the rest of the time. The schedule works for me. But you know what? If I had to choose, I'd stay home with DD all of the time. Nothing I do at my job is as fulfilling or as rewarding to me as being home with her. And, I miss her when we're not together.

Years from now, who knows what your career goals will be. You may be writing full-time. You may be a lecturer. You may be a lawyer. You may even want to pursue something completely unrelated to what you think that you want to do right now. Working now so you can work then may not get you where you really want to be.

Society tries to tell moms that they should be guilty about a lot of things, but I think the fact that you're happy staying home says it all.

Aisha said...

Thanks for your take on this! BYou are right- guilt is just a byproduct of womanhood in general and motherhood in particular it seems.

WOW you have a part-time job!!! That is AWESOME. I wish I could- but at least around here- part time jobs in the legal field are hard to find- its a good thing if you can get one though- good for you!

nh said...

Guilt is such a powerful thing in our lives isn't it? I hope that you enjoy your time at home and savour every moment that you have with your son.

creatingfamilycode said...

I do not know you, but I am proud of you. I can not speak to that guilt just yet, but I can speak to the guilt of feeling like I don't make enough or don't DO enough (even though I do most of 'it')...I am always feeling guilt, and I am always having to shut that off. Guilt in't worth the time or effort. Guilt is not worth the pain. And good on you for deciding to make your feelings of happiness and fulfillment matter more than the feelings of the 'I should'..

Happy ICLW from a first timer!

Aisha said...

nh, thank you for your kind words of support!

Creatingfamilycode- thank you for your heartfelt comment with your perspective on the matter- you said it beautifully. Thanks for stopping by.

Post a Comment

I love to hear from you!