This is a topic that I had been wanting to address for a while, but I honestly wasn’t sure how. I hate to talk about things that make me feel angry or divided, so I really wasn’t going to talk about it on my blog. However, I just can’t not talk about something that is so real and present in my everyday life.
Growing up I remember my mother always worked, and she encouraged my sister and I to get a good education so that we could have a great career. My mother was a great example of a woman who helped to provide for her family. She stressed to my sister and I that if we wanted something that we should work hard to have it. I got my very first job at the tender age of fifteen and I worked all of my teenage years in some way. After my mom died I quit my job at Taco Bell because I wanted to be at home at night with my younger sister. I didn’t want her to be at home alone. My dad worked night shift and he never changed his schedule, so I thought it was important that I change mine. I was blessed to get a job as a regular babysitter for one of my teachers, and that helped us out so much. After high school I went to college, and I worked several different jobs in college.
I would have never thought that upon graduating from college I would ever become a SAHM(stay-at-home Mom). It wasn’t apart of my five year or ten year plan. I wanted to be a teacher for five years and then I wanted to become an principal. God had other plans for me though! I took one look at my first born son and I knew that I didn’t want to leave him with anyone! For me that was the moment that I decided to stay at home with him. Because we are a military family, this was normal where I lived(on a military base), and yet my family and friends did not see it as normal.
I was questioned relentlessly, about when I was going to get a real job, or what did I possibly do all day? I was criticized for having gone to college and not, “using my degree.” It seemed that no matter where I went or who I talked to, everyone wanted me to know that Black women didn’t stay at home. I was told that black women work hard to help their husband and support their children. “How could I help my husband if I didn’t put my children into daycare and get a, “real job?”
The funny thing was, I met several women black and white who were SAHM’s and I noticed a disparaging trend. All of us had similar stories of being criticized or berated for choosing to stay at home with our children instead of having a career. It seems like we all had this thought that one day we would go back to work and then we would be acceptable to everyone. It was like we always had to justify ourselves to others to prove that we had value and meaning.
I will never forget when a family member made the comment, “Torre can do it since she doesn’t do anything all day.” At that time I had two children under two at home and both of them were still in diapers! Are you kidding me? I was in the trenches at the time, between breastfeeding, diapers, potty-training, and laundry, I was constantly busy. Not to mention that I was a young wife, and my husband who was working long hours and we were still technically newlyweds! Needless to say, I was very offended by that comment, and the woman who said that was a working mother of four herself! Yet, she had this air of superiority because she worked all day and then came home to her family, whereas I was already at home because I did not have a job.
For many years I allowed those little nit-picky comments to influence the way that I felt about myself and my worth. I always feel like I wasn’t as good as a mother who worked outside the home and that feeling started to bleed into other areas of my life. I started to internalize who I was and if I was living up to my full potential and all because I had listened to one to many negative comments about who I should be and what I should really be doing with MY life.
Pretty soon it got to the point where I was so defensive about not working or being a SAHM that I was just snapping on people before they could even tell me what they thought about it. I had one woman tell me, “You must think you’re a white woman girl! Black women don’t do that.” And yes her nose was turned up and her face was twisted into an ugly mask. I thought how can you say that it’s okay for a white woman to go to an Ivey League College, only to get married and become a SAHM and that is considered honorable for her but not for me because I’m Black? No, I reject that.
While I know that I can never go back and give my younger self advice, I wish I could have told myself what I now believe which is this; Your sacrifice is vital to your family life. Your unwavering presence and unyielding commitment is worth every hard day and nasty comment. Your family would not function without you. Your job is to be the very best wife, mother, and homemaker so that your work to help raise productive, law abiding citizen, who will make positive, lasting contributions to this world. I want my children to be proud of me. I also want them to know that I chose to focus on just raising them for a while, and that I never regretted it, and I never felt bitter because of it.
Every time I look at the news I see a stories about broken black families, or one of the well documented missteps of young black males, I am convinced that my contributions are important to my family. I feel so strongly that when children are loved and supported that they are given the perfect conditions for success. Now of course there are exceptions to every thing that I have said, but as for me and my house, I know my role is very valuable and I am convinced that this is the way for me right now.
I do struggle sometimes with the consequences of my choice. There are times when I get sick of being on a budget, and I just want to buy what I want and not worry about the cost. I have many moments when I want to be more than just a housewife, but what I’ve learned is that I can be many things and never diminish any of the things that I am. It’s possible to wear many different hats and still do what I believe God called me to do.
I ask you this question ladies, why did you choose to be a SAHM or a WM (working mom)? This is a judgement free zone so please feel comfortable sharing with me. I’m not here to critic you or point out why one is better than the other. I just want to hear from you guys about this topic.
Thanks for reading my blog!