When life gives you lemons

January 13, 2018

I was blessed that for the first six months of my marriage I was able to be a housewife. That was something I always knew I wanted to do at the very beginning of marriage and so I’m grateful to God that I did. Unfortunately, because I had no real preparation for being a housewife it was mostly filled with trial and error —something I’d warn any woman of, please don’t go into marriage without knowing how to and having ample practice in the daily management of a household. And I warn anyone, simply knowing how to cook or clean is not the same as cooking and cleaning every single day, learn and practice at least a few months before marriage so you don’t have to go through the frustration —with yourself or from your husband, of learning on the job. I think we all take the idea of being a housewife for granted, the name doesn’t help, as it implies a passive state of staying at home. In reality, a woman who chooses to be a housewife should be adding value to her home, her marriage and her children, ideally her not working should be not solely an individual choice but a choice for the benefit of her family. As so aptly put in her article on why she chooses to be a housewife, “There’s more than one way to add to your worth.”

So, I’d always imagined myself being a housewife at two crucial moments in my life —the beginning of my marriage, as I just stated, and once I had children until they were at least young teenagers. Though I’d still want home and family to be the focus of my life I think I could put more focus on other areas of my life outside of those above stated crucial times without causing harm to either.

Housework to “real” work

After the initial six month mark, I went back to New York from Morocco and began looking for work. Another six months went by and no success, so we decided I would go back and visit. Only two weeks after booking my ticket, I got a call back from a job inquiry I’d sent a few weeks ago, went in for an interview on Thursday and got hired immediately. After so much job disappointment I’d almost given up on ever finding a job,  suddenly everything shifted and someone saw the value in hiring me.

One of the things I often hear women say about being housewives is that they miss the outward validation of working outside the home. I think a lot of women work for that very reason, at work you get promotions, paychecks, and other forms of acknowledgment to let you know what you’re doing is of value, at home you rarely do.

Many husbands will complain if their stay-at-home-wife doesn’t clean or the kids aren’t well kept, but how many husbands will actually compliment their wives when floors are gleaming and the kids are well behaved? Traditional women’s work is rarely rewarded in ways that are easily apparent. A women can feel accomplished knowing she is doing God’s work, knowing the hardship that she alone faces, juggling a million tasks at once, but the missing outward validation can take a toll on some women to the point that they themselves begin to internalize their work as unimportant —how many housewives say, “I’m just a housewife/stay-at-home mom,” belittling their own work before anyone else gets the chance? When women decide to be housewives we need a strong dose of self-confidence and internal validation, the world —which often includes your own husband, won’t give it to you.

Job over family?

I canceled my tickets. I’ve never had a real 9-5 job before, I’ve had a few internships, I worked a short gig at a chaotic bakery, and a summer at a variety store. I expect that working will be a dramatic shift in my life, I’ll no longer be able to go to bed whenever I want or wake up whenever I want, my life has to be structured. But I’m happy, happy for the experience and, inshaAllah for the money it will bring me. Money I can use to support my own interests and fund my own projects -how good it will feel to fund my own projects and not “beg” for other people’s money.

But how will my marriage be affected? Probably not well at the onset. But I think the structure work provides will benefit me when it’s again time for me to be a housewife. In reality, I should already have a structured life, because a life without structure is a chaotic one, but it’s not easy to force yourself to change when there are no real consequences to not doing so.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to be in the exact situation I never wanted to be in, where one would choose work over family. I canceled my tickets in order to work at a job, isn’t that the exact type of woman I don’t want to be? But in our situation, or anyone’s situation where a woman working allows the family to excel in their long terms goals, isn’t it worth it? I don’t know, I could have gone to Morocco and hoped for a better job to come along when I got back, but after months of disappointment I couldn’t help but say yes to the first job offered to me.

When life gives you lemons, sometimes you just have to cut it open and take a bite. Which is to say, sometimes lifetimes life won’t give you exactly what you want but you have to accept it graciously anyhow.

Have a blessed weekend.



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