Most of the years of my professional life, I’ve been a non-person. In a society that defines itself by a specific job title, mine — stay-at-home mom — was singularly unimpressive.
Generally, the level of respect accorded to stay-at-home moms matches the annual salary. Added to the challenge of making one income stretch beyond what many people accomplish with two is the misconception that those who stay at home are able to do so only because the primary breadwinner brings home lots of dough indeed.
Believe me, this is rarely so. Stay-at-home moms are craftsman of finance, finessing modest take-home pay into adequate clothing, good basic food imaginatively cooked (generally at home), all bills paid, and entertainment creatively supplied. We know how to accomplish a lot with a little, and the level of organization, planning, deliberation, and prudence demanded to successfully run a household of disparate characters is overwhelmingly underappreciated by the “work world.”
Officially experts at nothing, because we don’t have specific paper diplomas and the letters behind our name, we are masters at scheduling, relational dynamics, small-scale finance, group psychology, teaching multiplication tables, identifying library books worth reading (and ensuring that they are returned before fines are incurred), culinary art, nutrition, basic first aid, and childcare. Many times, we start or maintain a family-run business.
In short, if employers were looking for a good, intelligent, capable asset, who understands money and how to deal with never having enough of it, they would be smart to consider stay-at-home moms, the kind who have very few officially sanctioned job appellations on their resume.
Unfortunately, the business world, unlike stay-at-home moms, has a tendency to be a bit uncreative in its outlook, but that’s okay — we don’t define ourselves by corporate standards. Instead, we go out and do what needs to be done, and when my career as a stay-at-home mom drew to a close (because the charges under my care were growing up and away), I turned seriously to writing — something I laid aside while I was homeschooling four progeny — and put into blog and book form the things I learned over many years of running a home.
My husband and I have no mortgage — never have had one — but built our house as we could pay for it, living in a renovated barn (two adults, four young, noisy, messy kids) during the construction process, making extra payments on the land until it was paid off, functioning for five years without a proper kitchen, and not worrying — ever — about things matching. Today, we live in a place we could never have afforded because I — a stay-at-home mom — knew how to take that single, ridiculously modest income of the sole breadwinner and transform it into something bigger.
Thus was the book, Live Happily on Less, born. It really is possible, but it takes living with a different attitude than that propounded by a society which promotes incessant spending as a means to economic health. While this theory may resonate with corporate CEOs, economists and politicians, most stay-at-home moms know that the electricity will eventually be shut off when the bills aren’t paid..
Another book, Grammar Despair, is the fruit of, not my verifiable university degree in English complete with diploma and letters after my name, but practical commonsense and teaching from my own mother, a longtime stay-at-home mom whose passion for words and language eventually blessed shoppers in the Walla Walla, WA, area during the 1980s and 90s, when the Safeway Bakery Lady reigned at the Rose Street store. (Isn’t that cool? That was one sentence, appropriately punctuated.)
Grammar Despair is written for ordinary people, who probably dislike grammar, but want to write intelligently. You don’t need a degree to do that.
And the third book, The Misfit Christian, grew out of frustration and exasperation at being treated — as a “lay” member of the church community — like the same kind of nobody that stay-at-home moms are thought to be. Knowing that I was fully capable of reading, and understanding, the Bible, I began to do so, eventually sharing what I was learning — for the benefit of others who questioned the status quo as well — in my blogs This Woman Writes and Commonsense Christianity. The book is a compendium of these essays.
It doesn’t matter what your job title is — it matters that you don’t accept other people’s interpretation of who you are. And as ordinary people — which is what all people are but not everyone realizes — we don’t have to settle for being eclipsed, ignored, overlooked, rejected, or underrated.
We have a voice. We have things to say that are worth hearing. So let’s speak up.
Carolyn Henderson is the featured artist at Wenaha Gallery’s Art Event through May 16, 2015, at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA. Her three books are available at Wenaha Gallery, as well as through Amazon.com.
Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.
Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists. Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.
This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.