Saturday, February 01, 2014

Letting It Go

I came across the Let It Go Project today, while reading a post from Emma Bradshaw's blog.  I fear that I might be too late for the culmination of the Let It Go Project tomorrow, a few days ago, but I'd love to still participate in the general community portion none-the-less. The project speaks to me! I think the creator herself, Sas Petherick, can best describe it in her own words-

"Is there a story you want to let go of? I've got just the thing for you, lovely.
Together we're going to bring our crappy thoughts and limiting stories into the open, and-soulfully, consciously, peacefully - set those birds free! This is about letting go of the stuff that holds you back from your utterly unique, never-to-be-repeated, vast brilliance."

Isn't that a nice idea? I don't know about you, but I have a constant inner dialogue going, one that more often than not includes whispers of self-doubt and second-guessing. I'd love to take part in this great project by sharing one of my secret worries and then LETTING IT GO! 

What I'd like to write about is a no-brainer. It's been on my mind for quite some time, and I've mentioned it to Jon just this week. The best way to describe what I'd like to let go of is my self-imposed  worry that "being a stay-at-home-Mom and a housewife just isn't enough."

As I've mentioned numerous times before, I feel incredibly grateful to be doing (one of the things) that  I have always wanted to do - be a stay-at-home-Mother. You have this time just once, and it lasts such a short while. So to have the opportunity, it's very special. 

The pressure to have a job or a career or an income stream in addition to what I lovingly regard as my "main job" at home, certainly does not come from Jon. I'm sure he'd be happy if I suddenly began bringing in the bucks, but he doesn't ask that of me. And if somebody wondered if I thought that the work that I do as a mother and housewife is equal in value and time to roughly a full-time position, sure, I say "yes." I'd say "yes," but then secretly I would feel guilty.

So where then, did I learn to internalize the idea that I should aspire to more? Why do I feel so guilty?

I think these conflicted feelings come from a from a few places, including my own experience growing up. My mother had a career for most of my life. She was a successful business owner, and her company's products were in major retailers all over the country. So when my biggest successes are measured in the number of soufflés that don't fall, or how many field trips I've chaperoned, I don't always feel that I live up to her glory.

I know that I'm me though. There's no point in comparing. I do think that this has something to do with it.

The second source of my conflicted emotions comes from feminism and all of the hard work our mothers and grandmothers have done before us! Aren't I supposed to take advantage of my freedoms? I'm supposed to have a career and make lots of money and wear, what's it called? A pants suit?
(One time in college, I was FORCED to buy a suit with a skirt for mock job interviews and it was the WORST thing EVER! It was so uncomfortable, but worse, I didn't feel like myself at all.  If I never have to ever put on a structured jacket again, I will be a happy person).

Wait, maybe that is another reason for my guilt! I have a college degree but no career to speak of. . Maybe I should have used that degree. In defense though, it was the most stupid degree in the world, well, for ME..... "Apparel & Textile Design." For a person who can't sew and despises the fashion industry, that's kind of the worst major you could ever choose. 

Do you want to hear the story of how that happened? If you do, read on, if not, skip.....

I wanted to be a psychologist. Perhaps clinical, perhaps research. I began school as a psych major and basically four-pointed all of my psychology classes because I LOVED them and I was passionate about what I was learning, and I wanted to help people one day. But eventually my parents asked me to change majors after they had learned that Michigan State had about 5,000 psych undergrads and feared that nobody would find jobs. So I listened to them in the end because they were footing the bill. Then I switched into interior design for the next couple of years because 1) it was remotely interesting to me and 2) they had a well regarded program at State.

Interior design, while interesting and pretty, turned out to be a little too "materially" focused for my taste. Too much green and pink, not enough saving the world. My pearls were not quite big enough to cut it.  I didn't care enough about designer curtains, and I totally sucked at AutoCAD. So after two and a half years, I made a desperate attempt to bust out of the interior design program and get back to anything.....ANYTHING closer to my original goal of HELPING PEOPLE.  I quickly realized that going back into psych, or even teaching, would set me back years. My parents were terrified of me taking on yet another three years. So, I switched for one final time, to the only major that really shared courses  with interior design, and that was apparel and textile design. Ugh. 

It was ok. I really liked my professors and my classmates, but my heart just wasn't in it. I could care less about what's "in fashion;" I'm more for the independent, creative small guy. I do remember fondly our class in designing clothing for those with disabilities and for the elderly. We learned about different technical fabrics, their durability and comfort, and I designed for people in wheelchairs and with limited mobility. That was my favorite part.

And that's what happened. After I graduated, I attempted to make plans to go back to school for post-grad/graduate work THREE times. It never worked out. Once I ended up moving to California, once I ended up moving back to Michigan, and once I found out that I was pregnant. And so, that's the story of my lack of a career. I've had a school and a program in mind since 2006. It's roughly a one-year, intensive Masters in psychology. Then I could see clients for counseling under the supervision of a PhD. You receive a provisional license after a substantial amount of hours. The school also has a four year PhD. option.

Who knows if I'll ever do it - I still feel too needed around home to really take the plunge unless I have to. I personally know three people who have been through this program and they all say that you are literally away from home, in class or out studying and working, day and night. It sounds awesome but intense!

The last reason, and what I think is the biggest reason that I've come feel as though being a housewife might not be enough is because of...................what people say to me! 

Actually, I even say similar things to other women!  I think it's out of habit.  FOR EXAMPLE: "Oh, if you're spending time writing anyway, you should figure out how to get paid." " Have you ever submitted your work to X?",  or "You should have ads on your blog." or "You should put your crochet on Etsy." or "You could turn that into an idea for blah-blah-blah and make a line of blah and sell it on blah!"

I know that people are only trying to be helpful and positive, and like I said, I say similar things to my friends, but wait, WHY? I'm just always getting the message that no matter what I create, whether it's through writing online or with my hands made from yarn or paper, I should figure out a way to make money from it. Does this happen with you too? 

I will tell you that one of things that I have been doing since the fall is trying to post more often and increase my readership. This is because ultimately, I'd like to monetize the blog. At least I think that I want to. I THOUGHT that I wanted to. I feel like I SHOULD. Don't worry, I don't mean a million blinking advertisements. Just maybe some sponsors or something like that. I will say, that when Jon and I finally looked into it a couple of weeks ago, it was a little disheartening, the squirrely rules for doing ads this way and that. You end up giving most of the profit away. It just doesn't feel totally right to me.
Oh hey! But I did put one cute, trial ad on that Jon made. There's a fun back story that I'll share some time soon.

So, in a nutshell, this is where I THINK the feelings of guilt over being housewife come from.  And with this, unless I'm wrong..... (You people can tell me!)...... I will tear up all of my feelings of inadequacy and throw them into the sky. I will LET. THEM. GO!

Until next time.....
Lauren :)

(Note to readers: I was sitting at the coffee shop writing this post when after an hour and a half I began to lose focus and steam.  It was too early to leave and pick Noah up from school, but too late to go back home.  I felt like I couldn't write any more, but if I sat at a coffee shop on Facebook in the middle of the day I would look super lame, so I split the difference and decided to write whatever came to mind without having to focus).  

Dear eleven year old me, 

You ARE a dork, but you know what? That's totally ok. In fact, that is BETTER that ok, I think it's awesome! Why would you want to be like everyone else? Think for yourself! Be yourself, for yourself. 

Remember that time that *Jimmy threw a brick at you just because? Actually remember all those times that Jimmy picked on you and tormented you for years and years? Yeah, have you seen him lately on Facebook? He sucks. A lot of people suck. Isn't that weird? But, I guess, if you know the right places to look, you'll find spaces where most of the people are actually pretty great. I'm just glad that you didn't sink so low as to throw bricks at people too.

You knew better.

*Not his real name.


Like that one time, when all you wanted to do was take a selfie with your precious badger.


Unknown said...

You are doing the best thing ever being a atay at home mother,the only reason you feel a little guilty is because of society telling you that women must do every thing housework bringing up children and work, never conform to what society wants .Society also tells us to dye our hair, but as everyone sees here you have made the right choice as your hair looks amazing.I feel sorry for mothers who have to work your children need you more.xx

Anonymous said...

Don't let what others say bother you. My Mom worked a full time job when I was growing up and I knew I didn't want to do that. Sometimes I needed her and she was too tired to bother. I've learned my relationships with my children are more important than money or what others think. Hang in there!

Lori said...

I feel like we're long lost sisters...and now I feel like I'm stalking your blog. So I'm gonna stop...LOL! Your blog is so refreshing!! I've added you to my list to read. Yay!!

Lauren said...

Ha! Hi Lori!!!

Totally not a stalker. I'm so glad that you're here!
SILVER long lost sisters. :)

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Stop by ANY time! We're all in this together!