I have nothing but the most enormous gratitude that I didn’t have to spend my life grovelling in those horrible cubicles.
Gratitude to whom?
To my husband.
He is the reason I have been able to live most of my adult life without needing to earn money. I am fortunate and blessed to be economically dependent, and there is not a single atom of my being that thinks I am somehow entitled to that fortune or those blessings. They must be earned. Every day. I am often reluctant to describe being a wife and mother as a ‘job’ because it’s really not, and it certainly isn’t ‘the hardest job in the world.’ Oh please. Yeah, I’ll take picking up Legos and Barbie shoes and settling yet another dispute over whether Olaf will melt in the sun (he’s magic – he won’t melt) over shoveling asphalt or stocking shelves at Walmart any day. Those are jobs. Being a wife and mother is an occupation – they are social roles that occupy my time.
I don’t think of my role as a wife and mother in terms of market value, but in terms of long-term strategic planning and obligations, perhaps there is an argument to make that I have a ‘job’, in the traditional sense. And I can get fired.
Let’s deal with quitting first. If I ‘quit’ my job as a wife and mother by filing for divorce, why on earth would anyone expect my husband to keep paying me? That’s crazy. Even if I have a really good reason for quitting, that still shouldn’t oblige him to pay for me forever. Again, why? If I have a really good reason for quitting my job at WalMart – I’ll get a lump sum payment and be told to move on with my life. If I quit because ‘I’m not happy or fulfilled working at Walmart’, well, too bad. Under no circumstances would anyone say Walmart has to pay me for the rest of my life.
The more interesting case is getting fired. If it’s my husband who files for divorce, he’s essentially firing me from my job as a full time wife and mother. People generally get fired for either doing a really crappy job, or not doing their job at all. If you’re not doing your job, or doing a really poor job, why on earth should your employer be required to continue to pay you?
I can see a lot of women getting very squeamish at understanding the basic power dynamic between husbands and stay at home wives, but that squeamishness derives from our cultural unwillingness to suggest women have obligations to men, of any kind. I am very fortunate to have the job I do – and that job comes with responsibilities, duties, obligations and deliverables, just like any other job. Food, sex, clean clothes, a reasonably clean house, comfort, support, love, understanding, happy and polite children, a martini at the end of the day.
I do these things for a number of reasons. First, they make me happy. The job category that delivers the most happiness for women is being a housewife. Sorry, feminists. No other group of women love their jobs more than wives and mothers. Second, this job makes my husband and family very happy, too. We don’t spend our mornings and evenings screaming at each other over whose turn it is to microwave pizza or pick up the socks under the bed. And third, I do these things because I don’t want to get fired. I have a pretty sweet gig here, and I’d like to keep it, at least for the time being. I can see going to work when the kids are older, but for right now? Not so much. I love my job!