I’ve had a revelation. For years I’ve been told to “not care what other people think.” “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” “It only matters what the people you love think.” Well, this morning I’ve decided that all of those people, for all of those years are wrong. It DOES matter what other people think, but not in the way that most of us think about.
If I love a certain blue shirt and want to wear it, but my friend says she hates it…it DOES matter what she thinks. What she thinks helps define what I think and how I am going to choose to think about myself and value myself in my own eyes. If I let her opinion change my mind and I don’t wear my favorite shirt just because she doesn’t like it, it has changed how I allow other’s opinions to affect me. On the other hand, if I choose to disregard her disapproval and go with what makes me happy I am telling myself that I matter! I am choosing to value my own opinion and stand my ground and this will eventually influence how I allow what others think mold me into the person I am meant to be. I have dealt with self-worth for years. I have always cared what other people think of me. It has had both good and bad influences on my life and I’ve had to learn to evaluate the source of opinions and decide whether I valued the person that was giving the advice.
I grew up in a home with a father who provided the primary income and a mother who, along with taking care of the three of us kids, worked side jobs to bring more money in. She never worked full-time out of the house and was always there for us when we needed her. My husband also grew up in this type of home. His father had the income and his mother raised the four kids. She has done seasonal and other jobs but was always available for the kids fulltime. We grew up in a town of about 900 people and I am happy to say we had about the best childhoods kids could ask for. There were bumps along the way, as in any family, but we had it good.
But, I am a mom of a different generation. Women’s liberation movements tell women they can do it all. The changes I have seen in the past 20 years and advances even before that show the strides our country has made in giving women almost every opportunity a man has. We can vote, we can have almost any job out there, we can have babies and a job or we can choose to be a career woman and live the single life. It is all up to us. The problem this brings for someone like me is I’m stuck in the middle of a giant revolution for women and I just don’t know quite where I am supposed to fit.
I want to be a mom but I want to work. Family values and the way I was raised tell me I should put a career on hold and raise my family first. Society tells me that I can have it all and I should do what I want and the family can just follow. This is where my beginning statement plays a vital role in my life today…IT DOES MATTER WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK. I am not dealing with seeking the approval of one specific individual. I am struggling with finding the approval of MYSELF.
I want to be the best mom I can. I want to be there for my boys and I want to give them everything they need, the traditionalist shines through and tells me to put off working and be there for my family…but then the feelings of wanting to be successful and important lurk in. There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with a woman working. I WANT TO WORK! But I also want to be a full-time mom! I’m stuck between that proverbial “rock and a hard place” and I’m feeling the squeeze.
I see many women who work outside of the home and raise their families very successfully. But I also see the difference it makes in the kids. I have many friends who stay at home full time and many that home school. I also have many friends that work and balance the rigors of daycare, family and a career. Each woman I know is strong in her own way and I respect each of them for the way they are handling their situation but I find myself stuck in the middle wanting it both ways.
I am not here to judge anyone. I am not here to tell anyone at home that they are missing out by not working and I am definitely not here to condemn those who are working. I “get” both sides. I have been working on my college degrees online as I raise my children. I have spent many nights, up until 2 am writing papers only to get up at 6 to get the kids moving. I have homeschooled in the past and right now I have both boys in public school. I have lived both ways and I love them both. What I need is to find that peace that tells me it’s ok. Right at this very moment I am taking 7 graduate credits, working part time, doing in-school student observations for a class, being a wife, being a mom and trying to do it all. Some days I honestly don’t know how I’m going to get it all done, so that is when I stop. I stop to think about those people who do matter to me and how I feel about what they think about me right now. Do I want them to see me and say, “Oh, look at her doing it all! She’s so successful.” “She’s such a blessing.” “We can always count on her.” Actually, yes, that is what I want but at what expense. My stress level lately has been sky high. When I just stop and take a breath I realize I have to dig deep inside and find how I feel about myself right now. If I don’t like how I’m feeling, there’s probably something wrong with the big picture. Life shouldn’t be about working to please others or appear important so they’ll find value in you. It’s about being the best “YOU” you can be. For me right now I think it’s time to just stop and take a good look at what’s “on my plate” and if I can “carry it.” If I have too much on my plate all it’s going to do is wear me out or ultimately break the plate and that’s a lot harder to fix than it is to just take something off the plate and maybe come back for it later.
Ladies, and especially girls, don’t let what you think others want from you become so important that you forget to decide what you really want out of life. Dig deep and find what makes you happy and chase after that with all of your might. I will never regret the years I’ve had at home with my boys and that number is getting smaller and smaller. My older son is a freshman which means I’ve only got a few years left before he’s out on his own. I am proud of myself for completing my Bachelor’s degree (at 33 years old). I have taught my boys that it’s never too late to learn and that hard work pays off. I’ve also shown them that I can balance between pursuing my dreams and being their mom. That’s where I am finding my true self-worth. Sometimes I need to just take a break like this and get things typed out to really see what’s going on in my heart. Emotions pour out and when I see what I’ve written it reflects who I am and what I find important.
I’m going to keep working on finishing my Master’s degree. I’m going to keep showing my boys that hard work pays off, but I’m not going to let the things that I think others are looking for in me determine my happiness. My happiness is found within these four walls, with my husband and my sons and with what works for US. I’m going to push through this semester, somehow, and do it because I want to and not because society tells me I need to. I’m going to keep on keeping on and do it for the right reasons. I do care what other’s think of me but I’m going to let that be a matter of helping determine who my friends are and not who decides what I do with my life. And most of all I can rest peacefully, even among the high levels of stress, because I know I was created by a loving God who doesn’t care what degree I have or what type of house I live in…He cares about what’s in my heart…
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Marvelous are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
Time to continue on with my day and get it all done, but now with a more joyful heart, because I’m not doing it for the praises of anyone else. I’m doing it for me and my family.
Sometimes beautiful things come from the results of time under great stress…just look at a diamond!
Picture of diamonds from:
Follow your Heart photo from:
Career and family photo from: