Monday, April 7, 2008

The Old Days

Before I was the Evil Twin's Wife, I was just me - a little girl. I grew up mostly in the South (Alabama and Georgia, to be exact). My dad was an engineer with the federal government - the Divison of Highway Administration so when he was promoted, the rest of us moved along with him. After Georgia, we lived in Kansas City, Kansas for nearly three almost unbearable years.

When he was promoted to District Administrator (which meant he was as high as they go before heading to Washington, DC), he was given several different states from which to choose and he picked WV. His mother, my grandmother, was in a nursing home in Bluefield, VA and this station got him closer to her.

The rest of us were less than thrilled with being schlepped to West, by God, Virginia. I was unhappy because - get this - they didn't have a Saks Fifth Avenue here (they still don't!). But, I've been here for nearly 25 years and it's grown on me. I'm more a WalMart shopper than a Saks one these days anyway. I've come to love and embrace my inner cheapness. Especially when I'm spending my own money. LOL.

My dad was the eighth of 10 children, born into a poor family. My grandfather was a coal miner, as were a few of my uncles. My dad was only the 2nd or 3rd of his family to attend and graduate from college (Virginia Tech - where the man only got ONE B, the rest As, in his entire college career). Even though he was raised in a very different environment than the one my brother and I were lucky enough to have been born into, he was a fairly progressive thinker.

Along with being a civil engineer, he also attended law school for a few years, but never finished. He always said that was his one regret in life. He encouraged myself and my brother to reach high for ourselves - and he encouraged me even more.

He said, "Not-yet-Evil-Twin's-Wife, you don't have to be a teacher, nurse, secretary or airline stewardess. You can be a doctor, lawyer or a pilot. You don't have to settle for the jobs typically reserved for women." He didn't mean that any of these professions weren't worthy - he just wanted me to realize there was more out there if I desired it.

My mom was a stay at home mom. Originally, it was part of the agreement that went along with my adoption. Back then, the agencies requested at least one stay at home parent until the child reached the age of two. But, my mom was home for good. When I was three and a half, they adopted my brother. She never returned to the work force.

Another thing my parents' promised is that they would support me (and my brother) in whatever field we decided to study in college. Not going to college immediately following high school wasn't an option. So, if I had decided to become a doctor, my parents' would have given me that education until the day I graduated with that medical degree. They wanted us kids to graduate from school without debt over our heads (i.e. student loans). I did graduate, but with only a bachelor's degree, in Journalism. I liked to write, so that's what I picked.

I also picked it knowing that there wouldn't be added pressures on me when and if I became a mother. I wanted to also stay at home with my child/children and I knew, in my heart, that women who became doctors and lawyers didn't throw that education away to stay home with their families. There is too much time, and too much intense work, to just "take a break" from those professions. So, I picked a career path that could be put on the back burner for a bit. Maybe on the back burner forever.

I don't know, but I do know I love what I'm doing right now. I hope to pass on my dad's wisdom to Sissy (who was born after he died).

And I hate that I have to write this next part. It's a disclaimer. This was not written to make any one who is a working mom feel bad or less of a mom. It's only my own life path, choices and thoughts on the subject. (You seriously wouldn't believe how badly most stay at home moms get flamed for their decisions).


  1. A "Stay at Home" or "Working" (like the stay at homes don't work?? LOL) is between the couple. One choice or the other certainly doesn't gaurantee a parent will be better than any other parent that made a different choice. I feel you will have no problem passing your father's and your own wisdom down to Sissy.

  2. Umm....yeah I do know how stay at home moms are looked down on. I have met people at parties and engaged in interesting conversations, until they've discovered I'm a stay at home mom, then they've moved on. I'm guessing that they feel I have nothing to offer the conversation?

    I don't look down upon working mothers. I've been a working mother as well. It's very difficult and exhausting.
    I can honestly say that having done both, I would choose to work. I found it was easier than staying at home...financially, emotionally and physically. Staying at home is draining and a constant strain.

    That's just my two cents...

    Kiss Kiss...

  3. I always felt that my decision to stay home with both kids until they were two - and my burning desire to be home again with a third, if we're able to do so - was one of the most feminist decisions I ever made.

    To me, true feminism was not about doing the workforce thing... it was about having the choice.

  4. When my kids were younger I was gload to not be a SAHM, but now? Now I would totally rock that thang. :)

    You should be congratulated for making the decision - being at home with the kids all day, esp when they're young, is damned hard WORK!!

  5. i've done both. both come with huge responsibilities and rewards. however, when i worked outside the home i still had to carry all of the in home jobs too as i was a single mother. those few years i had at home with my children were wonderful. i was an r.n. my mother and father never encouraged me to do anything other than stay home. i remember my mother saying to me "why do you want to be a nurse? all you do is wipe up s*&^!" best dirty job i ever had. sorry about no caps, typing with a kitten on my shoulder.

  6. Except for 7 months, I was a sahm for all the years of my children's early lives, not going to work until my baby was 14. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to be a sahm when they were young. I changed professions when I returned to work, and I am ever so glad to be doing what I do now.

    Being a sahm is hard work, and it is the best for children, if you can swing it.

  7. I would be lost without Nooze's Aunt R, who has helped care for her ever since birth.

    R is a SAHM who homeschools her two kids. She is the most accomplished, smartest, funniest woman that I know (other than my sister).

    I, too, was raised to believe that I could be anything I chose...according to my MOTHER. My father, on the other hand, was not keen on the idea of me driving a big rig.

  8. I think all these comments have addressed the SAHM situation rather well. I have been both and agree that they are equally daunting tasks. There is no shame in either POSITION. I'm sure you are familiar with the pay scale of a SAHM - it's a shame that it is not a tangible asset.

  9. I think it's wonderful that you do what you do for your kids. Don't feel a bit bad for it!

    For what it's worth, some people flame those of us who never had our own kids too. Even though I raised my stepsons, in some eyes it doesn't count. You wouldn't believe the women who won't talk to me just because I don't have any.