Okay, so I’m assuming you all have seen “It’s a Wonderful Life” ? The main protagonist has a moment of panic in which he contemplates suicide; an angel comes along and shows him what would have happened with all the people he loves if he had never existed.
Now think of this: My bachelor’s degree is my George Bailey. I am my own angel.
As a stay-at-home mom whose foray into Jobland recently crashed and burned like the Hindenburg (okay, now I am guilty of metaphor/simile cross-contamination), there have been a few times over the years where guilt over my Godzilla-like student loans has caused me to regret going to college. In fact, I can honestly say, I would have had no impulse to work a “real job” whatsoever – especially after ten years of success as a SAHM – if it weren’t for my student loan debt. Between that and the low-level anxiety that I felt (over the prospect of having a completely empty house for eight hours a day when our youngest recently started kindergarten), I had no personal impetus to go get a “real job.”
That’s right – a totally intelligent, highly-functioning, non-lazy woman can actually have NO DESIRE to work outside of the home.
“Whaaaat!” you say? Why would you want to do that? Just sit at home and be your own boss?
Let me count the ways:
For the first time in my life, I will be able do a plethora of things without a child (or mental health consumer), or a child who is acting like a mental health consumer off her meds, HANGING OFF OF MY LEG.
I can go to Eat’n’Park – and leave when I want to, not because someone’s diaper needs changed.
I can go to Barnes & Noble, sit at table quietly drinking coffee and perusing the latest coffee-table book (or, as Kramer once surmised, a coffee table book about COFFEE TABLES).
I can spend time getting to know my mother again.
I can have dessert out with my dad without constant interruptions of “but she (fill in the blank) !”
I can volunteer with elderly people or at the local veterinarian’s office.
I can sit in the local park and stare at trees and insects and predatory birds until I start to drool from complete relaxation.
I can lose the next five (or ten?) pounds I wanted to lose and not feel guilty dropping kid(s) off at the romper room while I exercise.
I can be available to pick up any of my children without wondering whether my boss will be mad that I prioritized my family.
I can take all morning – heck, ALL DAY – planning the menu for dinner!
I can have the time to write a blog and keep up with it, something that brings me great pleasure.
I can even – GASP! – take children of my friends off of their hands for a couple of hours, so that they can do any of the aforementioned pleasurable things, knowing that I am getting my baby fix and they are getting a moment away.
What is the cost of this? Trading my part-time job that brought me very little pleasure and many, many moments of headaches, anxiety and annoyance. Living truly within a one-salary budget. Being a one-car family for the next eight months, until we pay off our minivan and can logically take on a loan for a commuter car for my husband. Spending after-school moments with my kids, and having the time, energy and patience to help them with their homework, instead of being brain-dead by the time I get home from work. Not having to ask myself whether $8.25 an hour is worth the time I am spending away from home, my kids, my friends and my free time. Not having to feel guilty about refusing to work on Sundays. Not having to answer to anyone outside of my home about my time, my money, my energy, my freedom, or my intentions.
And not feeling guilty about not making money in order to pay off my student loans – of which my husband has made clear that he’s absolutely happy to take over payments.
Because according to Brad, what I – and my kids, and my husband – get out of me staying at home?
They get my undivided attention; my energy; my patience; a singleness of purpose; a happier family member; the “fun mom” part of me might even make an appearance now and then!