Friday, May 8, 2009

Deep, Dark Secrets

I'm usually a very open, honest person. So, here's to openness: I'm going to share with you one of my deepest darkest secrets. (Really, I keep this ferretted away in my heart.) So I'll just say it:

I'm afraid I'm being judged all the time because I'm a working woman. That's really all it is, fear, and not even necessarily a merited fear, but it's what my secret heart frets about.

If we're just talking intellectually, I'm fine. I know that my actions are clean before God and my husband. I'm doing what I'm doing because it is what is best and necessary. But in many of our circles, it's simply not the norm. Men work, women stay home and have chillins. Intellectually, like I said, I embrace my situation. I know that I'm not a bad woman for my career.

But nonetheless, my silly, silly emotions and fears eat at me. I worry that I will never be considered valuable until I have children. I worry that nothing I do will be taken seriously until I have children. I worry that I am considered some ball-busting workaholic, selfishly pursuing her own gains instead of her family's.

People say little comments here and there, not knowing my neuroses, and I take their little dropped gems and hide them away to fester at them later. It is all mainly in my mind.

For once, I just wanted it outside my mind and outside myself.


Kelly said...

I completely understand and I feel the same thing almost every day. I wonder if people just see me as a lawyer until I'm a mother. Like its a temporary calling. I think its getting even worse now that the majority of "blog owners" seem to be mothers with young children- thus perpetuating the idea that every married woman from 25 to 30-something is a stay-at-home mom. I feel like I'm abnormal because I don't fit into that category (I've actually searched for blog writers who don't fit into that category- haha).

I met a woman the other day who is 27, married and owns her own succesful business that she loves. When I asked her if kids were on the way- she said "Not for a few more years. I'm not ready for that part of life yet and I want to focus on my career." I really admired this response. Not because I think it its bad to be young with children- I think its an admirable calling. But I think it is equally admirable to be working career woman with no children. And I really respect that she is fulfilling her dreams and being honest with herself about what she really wants. We are allowed to have our own personal, independent dreams, goals, and livlihoods. Those things are valuable. I really respect, admire and seek to emulate women like that.

Furthermore, I think that your valuable career will make you a more valuable mother, when and if you choose to have kids. I believe your career and experiences will give you perspective and balance and a deep purpose. And I think that it might add to your life when you have been in the house makeup-less for three weeks straight with a screaming newborn.

I really admire your career, Amber. I am very proud to know you and I think your career, your books, etc. have made a very valuable impression on this world.

Ric Sieben said...

My wife and I decided before we married that we weren't going to have children. More than 21 years later we still occasionally get questioned about our decision.

Sometimes we think back and wonder if we made the right choice, but the feeling doesn't seem to last for long. I wholeheartedly believe God could have over-ridden that decision at any time if He had chosen to do so. Fortunately for us we have a bunch of nieces and nephews in the immediate vicinity that we can love on and spoil and, after we get them all sugared up, hand them back to their parents.

All that to say, it's in His timing and under His control. Don't let the opinion of others make you crazy. Pray about it and trust that everything happens in God's timing whether it's in regards to family, work or any other aspect of your life.

Amber said...

Thanks, Kel. You're a sweetheart. And a rockin' lawyer.

Ric, I didn't know that. I'd love to hear more about it sometime.

sarahbri said...

Amen to both of those! I know how you feel Amber, and I know you struggle with it. But I am proud of you too for following where God has you and for being your husband's helpmeet even when it looks different than it does in other families. You are a spectacular woman, and anyone who judges you for this is missing an incredible opportunity to know an amazing couple of people! So there.

Tara said...

Am, I think you are hard on yourself because that is the way you have always viewed the way your path was laid out for you. Personally, (here comes the feminist) I think that society needs to change. Yes, women are currently staying at home in most cases, but think of the reasons--#1 women have the babies and need time to recooperate, big #2: men still make more than women so when weighing the options of who gets to work based on the money, men work. Before I read your blog today, I was actually driving home and thinking about how there are many dads that I will not recognize next week at field day because they have been so absent in their child's school life. When teacher conferences come around, moms come in all cases and only a few dads attend. Society is the problem Amber--not you!! You make more of a difference than many parents because they are just doing what is predetermined based on societal norms. Many parents try hard, but dislike their children (and I have had parents tell me in front of their children that they wish they had never become parents).

I do understand your point though--I am ALWAYS questioned about when I am going have kids and leave teaching. Why is it assumed I will leave my job? I am glad you have taken the path you have because you have become a person that inspires other people through your writing and your life. I am sure you would have had all of those opportunities if you had kids.

Last, it took one of my well schooled friends (Ivy League) to point out that she doesn't want kids to be the only thing in her life--her NEEDS are met when she is in the professional world and using all of her talents. She now has 3 kiddos and still loves to work a few days a week!

Just so you know, I love how you are being honest--and I am going to be too. I think you rock and you have exceeded my expectations that I had for you as a sister. But, since Rick brought it up above, can you have kiddos someday so that I can spoil them and send them home with a sugar high?! You can continue being a working person and I won't judge you!!

Tara said...

In my not above, I was trying to say "you would NOT have had the same opportunities if you had children."

robinegg said...

amber! you are so incredible. i admire you SO much. on our small group we are just about to finish reading Piper's, This Momentary Marriage and he has a chapter called "Marriage is Meant for Making Children...Disciples of Jesus: How Absolute is the Duty to Procreate?" And while reading it i though of you often! Not because i think it's just awful that you are working and don't have chillins :) but because he talks about how precious and important it is for believers to have "children" outside of the biological (and he talks about having children of all ages, not just kids). He says, :...while the meaning of marriage normally includes giving birth to children, this is not absolute. In this fallen, sinful age, in desperate need of knowing the Redeemer, nature by itself does not dictate when or whether to beget children. The decision about whether to conceive children is not ultimately a decision about what is natural, but about what will magnify the Redeemer, Jesus Christ." and then he goes on to say, "In the beginning, God said to mankind, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth' That's normal. That's good. But it's not absolute any more then marriage is absolute. What is absolute is to pursue spiritual children. But it is absolutely for making children followers of Jesus." This makes me think of you because i know that you very much have a "maternal" side, you like to care for others, you like to counsel, and teach, and love. These are all motherly qualities and they are qualities that i admire greatly! And if we are supposed to live out the "great commission" by going and making disciples of all nations, then you at this point in your life and marriage really have an ADVANTAGE over those of us who have physical, or biological aren't bound to your home, you aren't bound to the demanding needs of children (though i think that those of us with children still have a calling on our lives to the great commission and an ability to fulfill it) but you have a great responsibility to mother others who've not yet come from your womb. and screw people who might pass judgments, they're just stupid.
but thanks for sharing your heart so vulnerably and tenderly!

barleygreen said...

I'll just add one more to Tara's list. Number 3: Daycare can be cost prohibitive in some cases consuming a ridiculous amount of what a woman would earn by returning to work.

Amber said...

Thanks. All you's are nice. I just needed to get it out of my head. :)

hlw said...

WOW! I appreciate your vulnerability so much! It's different, but the same, to be in the Christian world and not married...and almost 30! (Although, I am not opposed to getting married! To quote what a now married friend would say when she was single and in her 30s, "I'm open to love!") It's like there are these stereotypes that put artificial pressure on us...and sometimes it gets the best of us! I admire your job and your smarts and your talent so much - keep excelling in the place where God has you at the moment, no matter where that place may be!

Amber said...

Yeah, Heather, a whole book could certainly be written on being a single woman in your late 20s early 30s in teh Christian community! :)