When people ask me what I do, I tell them that I stay home. Sometimes, if I am being honest, I feel a shrinking within myself as I answer. Is that really what I do? I stay home? Is it 1950 and women are merely pons and trophies? And then I remember the life we are building for our family and I stand taller in pride: I stay home.
I want to be an example to my daughter of strength and stability. I want to be a strong feminist that she can look up to and admire. I used to wonder if I could be that for her if I wasn’t working. When I was pregnant, I remember thinking that I would continue to work and balance my life at home. I would do it all and have it all. And then she was born. And for me, “doing it all” and “having it all” started to look different. I began to ask myself a thousand questions on a thousand different levels. In the end, I came to ask myself if this was what women have fought for all along- the choice to choose. And so, I chose to stay home full time.
I once had someone ask me if I lost a piece of myself when I chose to stay home. It was an honest question that deserved an honest answer. Everyone lives a different version of reality. I know this. What works for the neighbor down the street will not work for us. Like different colors form a rainbow, each layering itself upon another, so does today’s “modern family” varies and looks beside one another. My truth belongs to only to me, just as my friends’ belong to them. To answer my friends question fairly, I had to admit that no, I had actually only gained portions of myself in staying home. Nothing of me has been lost. I am content with where I am because I truly believe that it is what I am meant to do.
But this letter is not supposed to be about me. I am not trying to justify myself to you. Of all the people in the world, you really do know me the best. This letter was really meant to say thank you.
The other day, I sat at my friend’s table discussing something you had said to me. She called you the “most progressive husband ever.” I laughed out loud at this statement, but then I had to agree. You truly are.
Sometimes I apologize to you for the dishes not being done when you are finished with work. I could have done them while June was sleeping, but instead, I decided to read or write or work on a project. You tell me that you support my choice to pursue these activities and that we can always do the dishes together. You remind me that I am staying home to raise a strong daughter, not to be a maid, and that part of raising strong children is showing them who I am, what I like to do, and what strengths I possess.
Your attitude and support help me find fulfillment in my decisions.
I do not have a title for my job. I am not a banker, a teacher, a counselor. But every day, you ask me, “how was your day, Danielle?” And in that simple question, in the simple utterance of my name, you remind me of my identity. I am Danielle. Just as I was as a child, a student, a daughter, a writer. I am now Danielle, who stays home to raise her daughter. And I feel proud of this version of myself.
You build me up and support me no matter what and for that I am grateful.
Simply put, our marriage is a team. Together, we are making this lifestyle work for our family.
Thank you for being the most progressive husband ever. I hope someday June finds a partner as loving and supportive as you.