Is that not the most obscene word on the planet?
For years I’ve covered my ears when I’ve heard it, felt its force reverberate through my head when I read it. For years I viewed it as nothing more than a vulgar word used by vulgar people.
I’ve since changed my mind. Fuck is the fine print on your grandpa’s reverse mortgage, the cockroach in your shower, the worm in your digestive track. It’s the only word strong enough to express how it feels when you realize you could have been an astronaut, a firefighter, or surgeon–a politician, federal judge, lawyer, or scholar–a lobbyist, engineer, banker, or broker, but chose instead to be a stay-at-home mom because you mistakenly thought it was God’s will.
It’s the realization that for your entire life you’ve only been using half your brain, renting out the other half to a church that thinks emotional manipulation and circular logic are meant to be used together.
I could have joined a string quartet and toured Europe. I could have moved to Hawaii and started my own kayaking business. I could have learned to play the guitar and taken song writing classes, performing in bars and restaurants until I caught my big break. Granted, my chances of making it would have been slim, but at least I could have attempted it without the guilt.
Then again, I may have tried to emulate one of my heroes. When I was a girl and learned about Jane Addams and the settlement house she founded in 1889 to provide the poor with resources to find jobs and housing, I knew immediately that if I had the funds, I’d want to do something like what she did!
But Jane was single. She never married. Never had children. Never raised a family. And if she had, she may never have started Hull House. I knew in my heart that any philanthropic dreams would play second fiddle to my role as wife and mother. If a man ever wanted me, of course. I was lacking in the self-esteem department. Maybe, if I’d not rented out my reasoning to the oughts and shoulds of this religious organization, I would have done more humanitarian work.
Truth is, I don’t know. The past is set and I can’t change it. All I can do is look at where I am right now and move forward from there.
On the positive side, I have good credit, no debt, a small nest egg, and a few skills. On the negative side, I’m at a huge disadvantage in the work force because I’m the primary caretaker of four small children. Teaching music is difficult because the hours conflict with homework time. Working as a freelance musician means working evenings and weekends, putting a lot of mileage on the car, and getting paid less than 12k a year.
The most practical approach is to go back to school and learn some skills in a field where there’s actually demand, but time is of the essence when your spouse is not supportive. When he blames you for not choosing a more useful career in the first place, and then criticizes your current plan for its potential to take you away from the children precisely because the skills you’re acquiring will actually be useful in the workforce, it’s enough to make you want to punch something.
When push comes to shove, I’ve come to see that staying home with your children is good and bad. Because on one hand, my kids know I’m always there. But on the other hand, being a stay-at-home parent also means that I’m expected to clean vomit off the floor in the middle of the night, cook each evening, do laundry for a household of six, ask permission to leave the home when my spouse is around, and meet his emotional and physical needs even though I’m reminded in subtle (and not so subtle) ways that because I’m not making money, nothing I do is enough.
I’m a leech.
Please God, give me my dignity.
-Submitted by Sophia Stone