Not once has my fantastic husband made me feel like I am not a contributing member of our family, yet I am so careful to tell him exactly how many jobs I apply for every day because I don’t want him to think I’m not trying. On a good day, I submit my resume to 10 jobs I’ve found online, and when I’m feeling extra ambitious, I even clean the bathroom sink.
But what I feel even more acutely than my wounded pride and boredom is a tremendous sense of guilt, several layers deep. I feel like I’ve failed my mom. She and my dad worked hard to send me to a good school so I could become something, and it’s hard not to think that I’ve let them both down, though they would never say that they are anything less than proud of me.
Still, I can’t help but think back to my college graduation. I attended a small all-women’s college, so it was easy to spot my parents standing off to the side of the stage. I caught a glimpse of them as I was handed my diploma. My father’s smile was lighting up his whole face, and my mom was not even trying to hide her tears. What was once such a happy memory now makes me queasy and uncomfortable.
I feel guilty for other reasons, too. Am I making that glass ceiling just a little bit thicker for other women by staying at home all day? It’s hard not to drop the laundry basket and ask, “What the hell am I doing here?” Who am I without my career? My husband’s wife? My parents’ daughter? If I wake up tomorrow and those relationships are gone, who am I then?
Another part of me thinks I’m being incredibly selfish to want it all. We are able to live comfortably on my husband’s salary, which is more than what many families can say during these economically challenging days. Living in Europe also affords us the ability to travel to places we normally would never be able to see — we have been to 16 different countries since we’ve moved here. It is an incredible opportunity, yet I can’t help but want more.
I like working. I like having a routine schedule where I know from the morning until late afternoon that I’m going to be a productive member of society.
Moreover, I have quickly found that I’m the worst housewife on the planet. By the time five o’clock rolls around, I’m usually running around the apartment, looking for something easy to clean or rearrange so that when my husband gets home, I can say, “Look at what I’ve accomplished today!”
Unfortunately, I usually choose really bizarre chores for myself. Instead of picking up the books and handbags I have scattered about our place, I’ll organize the items in our kitchen cabinets and create an alphabetized inventory in order to make more accurate grocery lists. When I show my husband, he asks, mystified, “You did what?”
I don’t know if I will ever get my career back on track, but I do know that at the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade my marriage for anything, not even a job.
So for now, I’ll continue to send resumes to countless potential employers. I’ll empty the dishwasher, prepare a hot meal for my hardworking husband. I’ll keep that alphabetized kitchen inventory up-to-date, and I’ll take time to remember to be thankful for all that I have. And on the upside, at least I can do it all in my flannel pajamas.
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