As much as I love my Momma, she and I don’t always see eye to eye on how the world works. Which is fine, because we love one another despite that fact. Though she has never said it directly, she has not-so-subtly tried to push me into getting a “real” job pretty much as long as I’ve been out of work. And there have been times over the last six years that I have tried finding a job. But the fact of the matter is, I don’t know that I will ever actually rejoin the job force. It would take something pretty drastic happening – none of which I’m going to give voice to, since what you put out into the universe is what you get back. Needless to say, it probably won’t happen, whether we are ever able to have children or not. And I won’t apologize for it, nor be ashamed of it anymore.
Josh and I are perfectly capable of being able to get by on a single income – we’ve proved it for six years. And yes, there were times we wouldn’t have made it if not for the help of family and food stamps. But that was, in total, a year. We can get by. We can have the things we need to have – a home, food, and a mode of transportation. More, we have conveniences – we both have cell phones, we have internet, and until recently, we had XBox Live. We only discontinued it because we no longer need it to watch Netflix or listen to IHeartRadio. So we have what we need and we have some of the things that we want, as well. Could we have more? Like vacations every year? And new electronics as soon as they come out? Going out to the movies and eating out all the time?
Yes, if I had a job, we could do all those things. We used to do all those things before. But here’s the thing. Our values are different. Our outlook on life has changed from when we were young and just dating. It’s far more important to have time together than to have things. It is more important to have dinner together every day than it is for us to take a fancy vacation once a year. We still take a vacation every year. We just go places to see people – mostly our friends and family back in Hattiesburg. But like this year, we’re going to Texas to see my brother and his family. We’re going to be gone about a week. And while it’s no beach getaway – I’m not a big beach goer anyway. I’d much rather someone’s pool or quiet stretch of beach on a lake.
The American dream has been touted to me my entire life as buying a big house and having things, and for most of my life, that was exactly what my American dream looked like. Now, I spend my time dreaming about a small home that is open and airy, a house that has a kitchen at the heart of it, where our bedrooms are only for sleeping because we’d rather spend time together. The kitchen has been the heart of my home since I moved out of my parents house; and the more I learn to cook, the more self-sufficient I am when it comes to feeding our family (and by family, I mean Joshimus Rex and I, but also Nikki, Cortney, and the kids, since we feed the kids dinner at least four days a week and apparently they think coming to Aunt LeaAnn’s house means food, lol) the more important the kitchen is for my home.
Because it isn’t just about the food, but about the family it builds to share a meal, about the time spent together putting that meal together and working together to make something. Some of my most profound connections to my husband happen in the kitchen, while something is cooking, and he grabs me up so we can dance as we sing. And those moments are, individually and collectively, are exactly why I don’t have a “real” job. And yes, I still “make” my husband help me around the house – even before I started keeping B and V full-time. Because it’s time spent together. And that’s the point. We don’t have tons of separate hobbies. We don’t spend tons of time apart. It works for some families – they couldn’t imagine being in one another’s pockets all day. But we are both the kind of people that we do want to be together. He’s my best friend, I love being able to look up and see him just about any time. And luckily, he feels the same way.
So, no, I don’t have a real job. No, I don’t know that I ever will again. And no, I will no longer feel guilty about it. I will no longer feel less because I choose not to work. Even though we’re lower middle class. No, I won’t feel as if I have to make excuses anymore, not for you or your friends. Because as much as I love you, I love my husband more. And I love the life that we are building together. It may not come with a lot of stuff, but it comes with a lot of quality time and memories. And considering the memories we’ve already made in the last nearly nine years? The world can keep their stuff.