Should I Stay Home or Should I Go To Work Now?
Does anyone else have to remind themselves of the things they accomplished prior to this job called motherhood? I do. Just a few months ago I lay in my childhood bedroom, desperate for understanding of my present situation. I formally typed out my “accomplishments.” Backpacked Europe, check. Went to Berkeley, check. Learned French, check. Lived in a foreign country (France), check. Moved to a new state, check. Went to graduate school, check. Got a master’s degree, check. Got married, check. Had children, check. Had a natural birth, check. Started a business, check. Paid off debt, check. So, what’s missing?
The truth is, I do not have my own home. I am not homeless, per say. I am a stay-in-someone-else’s-home mom. I live with my in-laws. And, before we lived here, we lived with my parents. Actually, we’ve lived with relatives for almost half of our entire marriage (approximately 3.5 years, rounding down). It began as an opportunity to save money while we put our earnings back into the business my husband and I launched right after we married. Every nickel, dime, and penny went straight back into our vision to grow a small made in America brand. Naturally, our families hesitation to support our venture led them instead to offer housing in lieu of hard earned capital. So, we opted to optimize our investment in ourselves by spending less. The equation seemed logical at the outset: either make more or spend less. So, we chose to spend less. Then, I got pregnant.
We also happened to live in the hottest real-estate market of the moment circa 2014–2015 (Seattle). While studying sociology, I read extensive research showing how non-native Americans were faring better than their American counterparts, economically speaking, because cohabiting with relatives is culturally normative. So, I spared my shame and dove in like any hopeful ethnographer would. Here I am, nearing four years of co-existence with extended family. I’ve birthed two humans under the roof of my in-laws and they are almost three years apart in age. Did I mention ninety-five percent of my belongings are neatly stacked in a storage unit?
Obviously, I could get a job. Then, we could free our belongings from purgatory, furnish a rental with our carefully curated collection of vintage belongings. I could leave our dirty laundry to its own devices, unbeknownst to the parental scope of surveillance we’ve willingly subjected ourselves to. I could cook every meal exactly to my own liking with all the organic fruit and vegetables my gut so…