Work. The word casually meandered into our conversation, but it gave her pause. “Oh, you work?” Her question had a hint of surprise in it. She is a mother, now with the great-grandchildren coming, so a snappy comment along the lines of, “Of course I work! What mother doesn’t?” was unnecessary. She had “been there and done that”. She had also juggled a successful career alongside the diapers and the homework and the driving permits.
I nodded and said, “Well yes, I work from home. I…” But she was no longer listening. “Oh, I see!” The details were not important to her. Because I earn my income from the comfort of home, she somehow saw it as different. Not quite the same as dressing in a business suit and clocking in with my Starbucks and briefcase at a corporate office.
Another voice from my past began crowding in as I watched her walk away. “You’re just a parasite. You expect your husband to provide for you while you stay home and play with your babies. You are the problem with our society.”
At the time I responded that my work was infinitely more important than a paycheck. I was there teaching, nurturing and training my babies in the ways of the Lord. I saw their first steps and pulled their first teeth. We baked, cleaned and did laundry together so they could learn firsthand the ways of a household. I even kept them home to teach them to read and write. My worth to my family was more than a monetary value.
I still believe that. So, why did it smart a bit when the sweet older lady dismissed my efforts at income-earning? Why did I feel like I was just a little “less” because she saw my work as unimportant?
I love working at home. I love being able to generate some “fun” money or some extra savings. I love the flexibility. But why am I really here in comfortable denim instead of sipping my tall latte in an Ann Taylor suit somewhere else? Is it the paycheck? Does working make me worth more?
If I passed away suddenly, my current employers would mourn just as little as a corporate boss in an office building. I can be replaced as a piano teacher, a sales person, a writer. There is someone else to do my work and quite possibly, they can do it better.
Worth is never measured in numbers. It is measured in love. I am worth everything to one man and four children. They deserve my best efforts and my undivided attention. Whether I work for money or not, I am still a wife and a mother. I am still the guard and manager of my home. This is not something I want to delegate. This is my life’s work.
So, I may cancel an appointment to nurture a sick child. I often miss a week or month of blog posts because I’m preparing my children’s curriculum. There are weeks and months when no checks come in with my name on them. If we have to tighten the budget a bit, so be it. I am doing soul work. And that is the very best work of all.