Takin’ What They Givin’, ‘Cause I’m Workin’ For A Livin’–A Working Mom Duly Chastised By Mary

Huey Lewis, Dolly Parton, Johnny Paycheck, BTO….all have songs that speak to the soul of working people. They sho’ do mine. How many times have I felt like saying “Take this job and shove it!” More times than I can count.

First world problems. I hear ya. I am super-grateful that I have a job, especially one that pays decently well. God has given me not only the ability and the capacity to work, but a job that pays the bills. I am not ungrateful for this. I need a job because those horrible student loans will never pay themselves and I need food for ma belly and a roof over my head.

I even have a job that is not exactly awful. Certainly, I didn’t say “I want to be a claims adjuster when I grow up”, but it isn’t SO bad. Yes, I get yelled at on most days. I get talked down to, lied to, pleaded with when my hands are tied (it is a contract, people, ain’t nuthin’ I can do about that). I talk to so many people in a day that I don’t feel like talking at all when I get out of work. I answer a phone so much at work, you better not EVER call my cell phone unless it is a dire emergency, cuz I ain’t answering. I drive an hour in the mornings, leaving before sun-up, because I gotta get the kid to school and traffic is stupid and there is no straight way to get from point A to point B when you live in a land of a 100,000 lakes. I drive another hour home, to a house with dishes in the sink and dinner needing to be cooked. In the winter, I literally never see daylight during the week. So, ok, it sucks, but it is not THAT bad. I get to help people. I get paid decently well for the area I live in, and I have benefits (though don’t get me started on how much I hate health insurance). I have cool work friends and a great boss. I learn new things all the time, every day. Best of all, hubby and I are busting our butts to pay down the mortgage early and eliminate all debt so we can retire in Mexico. It may never happen, but having a dream gets me out of bed.

So why am I “bitchin’” about it, as my dad says? Because, dammit. I don’t wanna HAVE to work outside the home. I am all for women having equal rights and the ABILITY to work if they want to. I absolutely admire the strides women have made to come this far and fight for these rights. I adamantly agree that there should be more women with powerful jobs. Women are, by and large in my opinion, pound for pound smarter than the average man…at least a lot of the women I know. They are resourceful and gritty and strong. As my Mamaw always told me, the man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the neck that turns the head. Women put up with a LOT, are capable of so much, do the lion’s share of housework and child-rearing most of the time, AND lots of them work outside the home. And if we get sick, the world doesn’t stop turning for us…we gotta just suck it up and keep on truckin’… My point is, women already have loads to do without HAVING to be a bread-winner too.

What do I mean by have to? Well, I don’t need charts and graphs and a power point to prove to you that the dollar doesn’t buy what it used to, even for people that live simply..and trust me, we live pretty simply. You can look up cost of living difference from 1950 vs 2014 and see thousands of articles about how the middle class is being systematically destroyed by inflation.

Just because I work outside the home, does not mean that I can stop cleaning my home, providing dinner for my family, stop taking care of myself, stop creating a “home” environment, stop creating a domestic church…all of this and still try to find time to relax. Even the word relax sends me into spazzed-out panic…I cannot relax, there is too much to do! “Why are you spending hours writing this blog, Janie?” Because that IS me trying to relax…to find some outlet for myself.

It feels so selfish to say so, when there are many that desperately need work, but I think my quality of life has suffered. The truth is, I see all these other awesome mom bloggers with their close-knit families, their brilliant home-schooled kids, and I inwardly seethe a little. I actively engage with my child a grand total of perhaps 60 minutes a day and most of that is cozied up next to him while he watches Dragonball Z because I am just too tired to do anything else. The rest is “Jack, get dressed. Jack, take out the trash. Jack, pick up your things”.   I have epic meltdowns if someone tells me they have no clean socks. I get angry when I have to go visit family sometimes because it takes away from our precious home time, which is dumb. I know without a doubt that the SAHMs work their butts off, but for me, as a girl that really had no great desire to do anything else other than be a mom, the grass sure looks greener and life more fulfilling. I dunno if these ladies somehow married well or they somehow escaped the horrible vortex of student loans, but even scratching a living off of a rock, I couldn’t quit my job right now.

Women fought for the CHOICE to be able to work in any job they were qualified for, but they didn’t fight for the OBLIGATION. I am all about women being educated regardless of whether they choose to work outside the home or not, because education is vital to keep from regression and suppression and also because learning is fun.

I am not about pushing off working a traditional job all on the men, either. It is totally cool if a dad and mom agree that the dad will be a stay at home dad. It is totally awesome if someone has figured it all out and can somehow juggle both parents working, have a great home life and well-raised kids—PLEASE share your secrets.

What I am sad about is that somehow, in our quest for having everything, we have lost really vital things, or have half-assed everything…we live to work.  I am sad that we continue to entrench ourselves deeper into a society that must work longer, harder hours just to NOT make ends meet in some cases. I am sad that college has become a requirement to get the middle-class jobs (or in my case, just a regular ol’ desk job for which a degree is required but never ONCE used) that you must slave away in just to pay for the piece of paper that got you the job! I am sad that the United States, one of the strongest, richest countries in the world, is so uneven and has allowed poverty to run rampant and has crushed its life-blood middle class. I mean, we don’t even require paid maternity leave in this country—we are one of four countries that do not have this, and the only industrialized nation. Even if if I take my paid vacation leave—which is still far less than other European countries receive—more often than not, the work mounds up while I am gone and I am working some serious OT just to manage the beast when I get back. Despite having a household with two college educated workers with jobs, it is paycheck to paycheck.  What was all that college for, again?

It occurs to me, however, that despite my inward rebellion, I need to align my free will with God’s intention for me. Yesterday was a particularly bad day at work and I came home and ate coconut gelato instead of cooking. I had my little cry and then I surfed the internet reading other Catholic mom blogs and was suddenly reminded that today is the Feast of the Annunciation to Mary. Being a fairly newish Catholic and a very busy person, sometimes it is hard for me to remember all of the holidays at all, let alone prepare for them, but today is something quite touching. Today celebrates the consent of a mere woman to do God’s will, when His plan probably looked nothing like hers. Today celebrates that woman’s overturning of thousands of years of separation from God and His intention for His people caused by another mere woman. So yeah, she was immaculately conceived and sinless, and yeah, all of eternity hinged on her consent, but that pretty much makes my whining seem even more silly. I am not, in any likelihood, changing the entire course of humanity, but you never know what great things could be accomplished through you if you do not seek to do God’s will.

This morning I prayed to God, then I talked a little with Mother Mary and Saint Jane Frances. My role at work was pretty much the same as yesterday…worse even, because I had more to do and many people were out, but it went much smoother and I maintained my poise. When I felt like I wasn’t making a dent in anything, I prayed another Hail Mary and asked for just a little smidgeon of her virtues to align myself with God’s plan for me.

Things will not always go my way and they may never go “my” way, but I am okay with that if they go God’s way. Right now, God’s will is for me to contribute my knowledge and talent to help others navigate loss and turmoil in their lives. My hectic life makes me sympathetic to their plight. Right now, God’s will for me is to keep working hard to pay things off so that I am either in a position to have that traditional family later or to have much to give others (or both). His long-term intention for me may be very different than His current in-the-moment plan. Mary probably wasn’t too keen on becoming an unwed teenage mom facing the threat of her fiancé leaving her to the masses, who would undoubtedly throw rocks at her. She probably wasn’t understanding at all what an impact she was to have, but any inward reluctance at her lot in life was squelched by her trust in God and desire to do His will.  And although I am certain my work days will be smoother and my home life more rewarding if I emulate her virtues, I can tell you it will take a whole lotta Hail Marys to shine this tarnished girl up. Thank goodness eternity doesn’t hinge on me.

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