DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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31 March 2011

Supporting others in their choices

Kerry took Sunny back to hospital last night about 10pm.  Our beautiful Sunny has laboured all through the night and has received some pain relief in the form of an epi-dural.   Kerry rang at 4am, an hour ago, to tell us the midwife is happy with her progress and expects the baby to be born in the next few hours.  :- )

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Yesterday I wrote: There are many ways to go through life but I believe one of the best ways is for one partner to earn money while the other partner manages that money....  And this: If I were a young newly married woman now, I would dive into my new career of being a homemaker.  But what happens when you are a single parent or if your circumstances require you both work?  I have been on both sides of this.  I worked as a nurse and a writer almost all my life, although when my children were young I was in the fortunate position of being able to work from home. I wanted to be there for them, especially when they were younger.  They needed guidance and a helping hand, whether they knew that or not.  I wanted to shape the people my children became and I was not going to leave it up to their friends or their friends' parents. Hanno and I were the main people in their lives and I believe they benefited from that.  I look at them now and feel intense pride for the men they became.


I know what it feels like to work outside the home and in it.  I have been in the position of having to pick up a pizza on the way home for dinner that night, I've cut corners, left beds unmade, fed my family packet macaroni and cheese and a whole lot of other things that I remember well and I'm not particularly proud of.  However, I'm not hard on myself.   I accept that I did what I could each day and I know that when I could do better, I did.  I feel regret for some decisions I made but I don't feel guilt.  I know I'm far from perfect and if I made mistakes in the past, I hope that I can make up for some of it by talking candidly about our lives now and guiding others, relying on my past experience. I know a lot of you think I'm the bee's knees but I'm just an ordinary woman who has learned from my mistakes and now have the opportunity to put things right, and to write about it.

Okay, now we know where we stand. I have been on both sides of the working debate and  I am not a saint.  One thing I can say though is that I have never criticised any women for the life choices they made.  I know, without doubt, that now I am living the way I am meant to live and I encourage everyone who can make similar changes to do so.  But not everyone can. Most of us just do what we think is right and what we have to do to get by and when we see an opportunity to change, we do.

Nothing excuses any woman who stands in judgement on another's choices.  If any of your friends criticise you for  working in your home, I hope you tell them you enjoy your life, you are doing what is right for you and your family and that you expect support from a friend, not disapproval and criticism.  If one for your friends told you she had a new job as a nurse, journalist or sales person, you would not criticise that choice, you would congratulate her.  Expect the same for yourself, and if you don't get it, that person is not a true friend.  


It seems to me that some women have this slinging match over who has the higher ground.  Don't go there, you're better than that.  Support other women, and expect support back from them.  It is not acceptable to criticise anyone for not going out to work, or for going out to work and neglecting their house work.  It's stupid and mean.  Be the friend you hope to find.  Be the woman/man you want your daughter/son to be.  I don't understand where the guilt comes from.  Some women have to work and feel guilty for not being at home with their children and not keeping their home as they would like it.  Other women feel guilty for staying at home and not helping with the family finances.  And some women are made to feel guilt when they're criticised for the choice they made - either to work outside the home, or at home.

A couple of ladies have asked how to answer the "what do you do?"- type questions. We should all start from a position of grace and respect.  When I'm asked, I always presume they want to know the truth, so I tell them about making pure soap or the most delicious bread in the world or that we just dug our latest crop of organic potatoes or that I just put up the summer tomatoes or some peaches - and how doing those things makes me feel.  I usually tell them I have a very good recipe for laundry liquid/orange cake/slow cooked italian beef casserole and ask if they would they like me to write it down for them.  Even if the "what do you do" question was not asked with the best of intentions, sharing helps break down those barriers and shows an open heart.

I know there are many readers here who are homemakers, many who work outside the home, and some who combine both.  I have respect for everyone who, like me, is doing their best and working towards a better future, no matter where their workplace is.  Mutual respect and acceptance will go a long way  towards creating caring communities for us all to live in, so when you are asked about what you do, be ready to smile and write out a recipe.  Generosity is sometimes contagious.

43 comments:

  1. You have so much wisdom and I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog!

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  2. I'm still learning to be a homemaker after working outside of the home for over 20 years, before now I just muddled through.

    The relief I feel, being able to be at home to look after my husband and children even though they are not really children anymore, is hard to put into words.

    I feel so, so lucky to be able to do this and some of my friends can't understand how I could give up my career, but they do support me; that's what it's all about, support for a persons choice.

    Wonderful post Rhonda!

    Looking forward to hearing your wonderful news :)

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  3. I love this post. I love being a homemaker and living the way we do. Fortunately it's not often that I am subjected to nasty comments. I have also been on both sides of the issue and I much prefer the side that stays home.

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  4. Great post! I am a working mom and often feel the guilt of sending my kids to daycare but you know what I enjoy working and I really like their caregivers. I am careful to make sure that as they transition to new age groups they get in a class with a caregiver that I like and respect. Those kids learn how to be people from you and the adults that care for them.

    Too exciting on the baby news! Oh I hope she has a great birth experience!

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  5. Hi Rhonda Jean,

    Thanks for the update on your grandson and Sunny and Kerry. Can't wait to hear the official news of his birth and to see pictures.

    Your latest post is such a reassuring message for a lot of women. We all need reminders from time to time that we have neither the right nor responsibility to judge anyone for the choices he or she makes. Time tells each of us whether our choices were the right ones for that moment and if not, then most of the time there's tomorrow to travel down a different path.

    My mother tends to be a pretty big worrier. My brother is so good at telling her, "A hundred years from now who'll know the difference. Don't sweat the small stuff." It kind of puts things in perspective sometimes.

    I know you're having a special, special time right now and I, as one of your regular readers, feel privileged that you've chosen to share what's going on with me.

    Love,

    Diane in North Carolina

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  6. You have been SPOT ON in your last few posts! I've been feeling really down on myself the past few months because I have to work outside our home and my daughter goes to my mother's. I know that I would much more prefer to be home but right now, it just won't work. Dh says that I need to be proud of myself of being financially responsible by working and contributing to our debt reduction. :) He's a "silver lining" kinda of guy.
    Someday I'll get to me at home. The time is just not right now.
    Have a wonderful day! BABY WILL BE HERE SOON! :)
    Blessings to you and yours,
    Kristin

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  7. I love this post today. Love it! And I loved your post yesterday. I even read it to my husband.
    Thinking of your new grandchild on their way into the world today. Those first babies generally have the hardest times of it, don't they (and their mamas) on their passage perilous. I well remember the long hours of labouring and the epidural on my first! Looking forward to hearing the good news. What an exciting day for you all!

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  8. Sending best wishes to Sunny and all of you! So exciting! :)

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  9. Thanks for the great post Rhonda, It's a nice feeling to be proud of what one does, no matter where they do it, or how they do it. If your doing the best that you can at that particular time; then that's all that can be expected....Thanks again for the lovely post.

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  10. Sending good wishes to Kerry and Sunny and all of you Rhonda! I'm looking forward to hearing the news too :)

    I work full time, don't have any children, and it's looking like I won't have any in the future either. I share the housework with my partner, who gave up his full time office work a couple of years ago, and now follows his passion - music (doesn't always pay, but he's having a great time!). We save as much of my wages as possible so I can choose to work part time again later if I want to.

    I lost count of the amount of time people questioned why I worked part time when they couldn't see a reason for it (eg children). Some people seem far more comfortable now I work full time - even though that wasn't planned, and isn't long term!

    It's sad when people don't support each other's choices. Here's to tolerance and learning from each other, whatever form that may take!

    Jenni x

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  11. Thank you for this post! I work outside of the home, because it is my husband's desire that I do so. But I also consider myself to be very much a homemaker. I proudly come home after work and make my family meals from scratch. I feel very involved in the management of my home even though I'm not there during the day. It hurts when others feel the need the put down my situation in order to make themselves feel better about theirs. In my mind, that is the furtherest thing from the spirit of Christian sisterhood. I have friends who are stay at home moms and I try to do my best to encourage them. Unfortunately, its hard to find encouragement if you're on the other side of the coin.

    A few years ago, I resolved to stop feeling guilt about my situation. Feeling angry and frustrated about not being at home, was not good for myself or my family. I decided to BLOOM WHERE I WAS! In this season of life, I feel I am exactly where I am suppose to be, where God would have me to be. And I don't won't to miss the blessings of this season by being angry and bitter.

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

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  12. I don't work (outside the home).
    Nor do I have children.
    So I am especially lazy:)

    I like to call myself a General Bludger.
    More so than passing judgement, I find most people are intrigued.
    If you have no kids, what are you doing at home?!
    It doesn't seem to compute.

    And I get a lot of "how do you afford it?"
    I also hear "I wish I could do that".

    To each their own, right?

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  13. I too have produced income and a home from all 3 positions, married with children, a single parent and now an older woman supporting home and self. There is no easy, it is all hard work, and to be told what you do is not right or fair or whatever is a true disservice. This post is spot on, and I hope all women (and men as applicable) take a moment to see how it plays our for them and their family.

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  14. Rhonda I've followed your blog with extra interest in the last few months as we both had grandchildren due at about the same time.
    Our little girl was a week late but beautiful and well worth the wait.
    Thinking of you all today.

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  15. Such wise, affirming words! Thank you for sharing this post!

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  16. You are the bee's knees. Wonderful post :)

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  17. I would like to send best wishes for the arrival of the baby...Second..I will not tolerate being put down for making my choice of being a homemaker...as you stated It Is A Choice...and I have been on both sides as a single working Mom and now my later years as a Homemaker...I now LOVE my JOB!!!

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  18. Yes, the old question I get all the time, and now it is getting old to me...." Do you work?"...well, "yes I do...at home".....is what I say..."I grow my own vegies, I make things to sell on a website...there is always something to do and I really enjoy being at home...".....I also say that it is a suported choice by my husband and myself to stay at home to raise my children, sure we do without a lot of things...but it all comes down to priorities....
    Cant wait to hear all about your new grandchild...what a special day today will be....Suzanne, SA..

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  19. Thank you for your blog! I agree with everything you are saying. And congrats when your new grandchild arrives! I just heard a talk on t.v. today on ewtn about God making male and female and how the husband is the head of the family and provider. Yes, sometimes necessity requires something else, but we must strive for this. I am an older mom, 53, and still a stay-at-home mom and my husband plans on retiring early. Your writings help support my beliefs! Andrea from Delaware, usa

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  20. I just "met" you blog wise, and I have to say: I love you. You really are the bees knees. I have been on both sides of this fence too, having worked full time, and now being a stay at home mom/homemaker. I work harder now than I did "out there" but this is the work that I find fulfilling. I hope that baby comes soon! Thank you for this blog and for sharing your work with us.

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  21. Rhonda, Thank you for your words of wisdom. As a single parent, I do the very best to combine what I HAVE to do (work outside the home and send my kids to public school) with what I WANT to do (be a SAHM and homestead) Thank you for graciously showing others that there are many paths in life and we all journey on our own. Mine doesn't look like yours or anyone elses, but I am proud of the one I have...I have come a long way and continue to learn as I go! God Bless...

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  22. A lovely blog. Yes supporting each other is one of the better equality issues we could pursue.

    I'm waiting on a new fridge and freezer to arrive (not as exciting a grandkid). I hope to combine the joy of homemaking with PhD work by using the aid of a huge freezer.

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  23. I think you need a new tag Rhonda, "Classics". :)

    What an exciting day today is going to be -- best wishes to Sunny and Kerry when you next speak to them.

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  24. Sarah in CanberraMarch 31, 2011 8:47 am

    Thank you for this post. As a single woman I have no choice but to work, and I think that it's often unacknowledged that many of those who stay home can only do so because they have the support of a partner. Like most working women, I cut corners at home because I have to. I know that a frozen meal is not as good as a meal cooked from scratch, but when I get home at 8pm as I frequently do, sometimes it's the best way of looking after myself that I have available.

    Each of us has different circumstances at different points in their life. I know people who look down on me because I don't own my own home, am not partnered and don't have kids. Others envy me because I have an interesting career and the freedom to make my own decisions. I think it's important not only to support people for their choices, but to recognise that for many of us whether we stay at home, go to work, raise children or not, are not always choices, just circumstances that we can choose to make the best of.

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  25. Every woman is different and live their lives the way they need too, they should all be supported. You said that very well and they should enjoy what they do whether it be a work or home. I like you spent most of my boys childhood years at home with them and I think they benifitted by this. They have both turned out great men and I don't think there is anything they would change about their life.
    wonderful post!
    Can't wait to see the baby photos :0)

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  26. Thank you for your post, I am a Homemaker but I worked outside the home off and on when the children were young. I feel very blessed to be able to be home now and wouldn't change it, I do agree with you that this is my choice and therefore I don't belittle other that choose to work outside the home.

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  27. I agree.

    I've been a homemaker for the past 9 years, since my first son was born. I love being home and taking care of my kids and my home (and garden) and cooking homemade meals. That being said I'm in the process of obtaining a part time job. My husband's work (carpentry) has really slowed down this past year, and even with us cutting way back on our living expenses due to growing a lot of our own food, raising chickens and bees and lots of other things, we just can't quite make ends meet at this time. I'm sad, but hopeful and know that it doesn't have to be forever. Only until we're back on our feet.

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  28. Such wonderful wisdom! It's not often that I can read or hear that kind of wisdom. I've been in both shoes of working outside and inside the home. And I have to say that being at home takes sacrifices that we are willing to make. I have friends that both working and stay at home moms. I'd never condemn those that choose to work for whatever reason. Thank you for such wonderful words and a wonderful blog I enjoy visiting.

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  29. I've never posted before but your beautiful post bought me out of lurkerdom as I sit here trying to decide if I will go back to work 3 or 4 days in 6 months time. Whatever I choose it is what is right for us - Thank you

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  30. Thanks Rhonda, you brought up interesting things for me. I have been grieving lately because due to a workplace injury, my husband no longer works. He's now studying and i am the breadwinnner after a lifetime of homemaking and part time work. I try to cope with the change but am struggling. My kitchen is not the same, no-one wipes the stove over or the bench like I did when I was at home. I am always at shift work, awake cooking ,at work or asleep. I go days without seeing our 9 yr old. I am in a grieving process for the life I had and now I have a new life of working in my early middle age with a bad back(always been a nurse). I yearn for your life, my old life, again. I'd like to get older! so I can retire and go back to my old life! Funny how things can change in an instant. P.S. The workplace injury was bullying, it has lifelong consequences for the victim and the family :-(..HJx

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  31. Yes, I have experienced both sides and neither is easy. Full time work was always a killer for me--absolutely miserable--still is. Part time is better, but I so love being in my own home. I have never been bored. In fact it is when I had to work full time that I felt most stifled--too tired to read or follow creative pursuits. My youngest daughter is having to work now; take the baby to daycare--I absolutely hate it, but he seems to be thriving and I would never project guilt upon her for this. Only wish I was available to help more. Women today have it so hard even with all the supposed "conveniences". Actually they are expected to do it all well--such expectations! My blog partner (a family law attorney) and I both support women getting all the education they can, working part-time after children come (to keep their foot in the door so to speak), in case the family breaks up due to divorce or death. It's sad, but in today's world, you have to be pragmatic. Parenting is not a part-time job, but when a family breaks up, is almost always the woman who suffers financially the most.
    Great post! Thanks for broaching the subject.

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  32. I wrote about something similar to this on my blog last year I think, about how we are not supported in our choices and women seem to be their own worst enemies at times.

    Well said, and I couldn't agree with what you wrote more.

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  33. Excellent post!!

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  34. I absolutely agree with you, Rhonda. Whilst I've only been a mum for 3 years (I now also have a 2 month old), I've been on both sides of this as well. I chose to go back to work when my daughter was just 4 months old and placed her in family daycare with a woman who didn't look after my daughter properly, eventually resulting in nappy rash so severe that she had to have antibiotics. I'll never forgive myself for letting that happen. But I did what I had to do, and I thought I was doing the right thing. The best we can do is what's right for our respective families and to not judge others for their choices.

    One side I'd never thought about, back when I was working, was that I always felt somewhat torn between being a good mum and being a good employee. Once my daughter was in a childcare centre, we had a turbulent year with a whole lot of sickness. With my husband away for work a lot (and with him having the 'more important' job and making three times as much as I was), I had to take a LOT of time off work to care for our sick child. This inevitably let to me being questioned by my employer and to me resenting my husband and with his great income.

    Having come out of this (alive, haha!), all I can say is that we all need to do what we think is right. I do, however, feel an incredible sense of sadness for those women who, due to the high cost of living, have no choice but work. I would really not like to be in that situation. I feel sadness for them, but I respect them. We, as women, need to stop being so hard on not only ourselves, but each other. It's so important to have good support around you and this is something a lot of women don't have simply because of their circumstances.

    Ok, I'll stop ranting now.

    Cheers!

    P.S. Rhonda, I love love LOVE your blog.

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  35. Thank you for this post..i love being at home with my children..i hated it when i was working..got stressed out and wasn't a nice person..that was a long time ago thankfully...i get hurt by comments from so-called friends and family about what i do..they think i'm weird because i make my own bread,soap etc..and even weirder because i can sew a bit..they would rather throw stuff tham repair it..so who's the weirdo lol...i feel alone sometimes because of my life choices but i am happy with that..in fact i have never been happier...
    Congratulations to all the family on the birth of a beautiful new baby...
    love to you and yours
    sara

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  36. I am not usually a person who wears "Message tee shirts" but I had one when my kids were little that I wore proudly. It said: "EVERY mother is a working mother." I still believe that, and I respect everyone's choices.

    That said, I agree with you that the ideal is a family supported by one breadwinner.... I went back to work when my oldest went to college, and because we lived on my husband's salary, mine paid college tuition for 3 kids.... they graduated with no crushing debts to repay, as so many of their friends had, and they are all grateful adults.

    As soon as they were out of college, my salary went entirely into retirement savings and we are now enjoying the results of that, traveling and enjoying grandchildren. I feel very lucky to have been able to arrange our life this way..... we didn't plan it, but looking back I can see what a good plan it is and see that my own kids are following it consciously.

    Barbara M.

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  37. Congratulations to all of you! I can just smell a sweet baby's head right now! (My favorite part.) xo Jen.

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  38. Thank you for this. I was pointed towards your blog by readers after blogging myself about this very issue - struggling to accept what I do (housewife) and learning to hold my head high even when I get flak for it - and even as I support my many friends who have gone back to work.

    I really appreciate the call to support each other no matter what we choose - we should never stand in judgement on each other, as we do not really know each other's financial circumstances, deepest desires or whatever motivates our choices; and heaven knows we all need all the support we can get!

    I have added you to my blogroll.

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  39. I too have sat on both sides of the fence and whilst money may be sometimes be tighter on this side, for me the view is splendid and the weather a whole lot more gentle. But I am fortunate to not only have a husband who supports and wants me to stay home but to be in a position that I can. I know that I have a choice and I am grateful for that.

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  40. wow - i am a new stay at home mama and just had this exact conversation last night with someone. you have so eloquently put exactly how i feel! thankyou!

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  41. As a female-to-male trans person I want to say this to the women reading this - you are so burdened with guilt. I don't know where it comes from or why we feel it (and I sure did when I tried to live as a woman), but it's there. If you make your decisions with the best of intentions, based on the best information you can gather, then you should feel no guilt for them.

    Women in the western world by and large get to choose how they contribute to society. And as long as we're contributing (even if it's just by being a friendly neighbour if a person can't work and needs to be cared for) then who is anyone to judge us?

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  42. Very good post! Thank you! I work a little outside the home but only 14 hours/week. I work a lot at home, but on my own home businesses, on gardening and occasionally on cooking and baking, not on housework. Staying home does not necessarily mean making beds and cleaning house.

    I do neither lol! People are sometimes surprised that I am at home as much as I am and my house is always so dirty and unkempt. I work on my art and my seed business/garden when I am at home. I never do housework. No one cleans at my house. We have so many other important things to do with out time! I cannot remember the last time I made a bed or even dusted. It was years ago, I think. I just shut the doors.

    There is so much more to living at home than housework. My children are grown and gone and it's just the two of us and yet I am busier now than I was when I had kids at home.

    People do sometimes judge me for the lack of cleanliness but I think I am happier and less stressed than these people.

    I have long ago stopped judging myself for my choices.

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