Working Woman

Before I get into this, I want to first express my appreciation for stay-at-home parents. The job you have is among the toughest in the world and I applaud some you for not only taking criticism, but making said critics eat their words when you are able to invest your time in your children and your home. Like any other job, many take advantage of the position you’re in and try to make you look bad. Stand strong and believe me when I say that my post isn’t directed to you. It’s directed to the people who seem to lack the basic quality of understanding and have nothing better to do than judge people who are different. People like me.

I get asked a lot why I work outside the home. Why I work full-time. Why I work an hour away. Why I can’t get laundry done more than a couple times a week. Why my husband has to prep dinner some nights. Why I have to spend MY money on vacations. Why. Why. WHY.

The people who ask me this do not typically work outside the home. They aren’t hands-on parents/homemakers and are easily distracted by other people’s business. Some don’t have a job that they operate FROM home (shout out to my photographer and entrepreneur friends who DO!). Yet they know so much about my circumstance and have established a distaste for what I have.

I could tell you about my upbringing, how my mother made it to America and SUCCEEDED on her own ambitions and work-ethic. I could tell you about my parents’ push to get my through college so that I had better options for work. I could also tell you how blessed I was to have a lot of my basic necessities as a kid simply because my parents worked to provide that for us.

But you knew that when you judged me, didn’t you?

I could tell you that I (gasp) actually love my job and that if I can pass the time being productive AND earn money, then jackpot! I could tell you that in this day of shaky health care plans, I am able to provide my husband, myself and our future children with the best providers in the North West. That when the VA failed my husband and countless other vets who gave their youth and vigor for shitty care and disregard, I can step in and make it all better.

Wait! You knew that. My bad.

Lastly, I could tell you that I have a retirement savings and a college savings for our future kids so that we could continue the cycle of giving our offspring what my parents gave us.

My desire to work doesn’t come without the consequences of not being able to be home and walk my dog on any sunny day. Not being able to try more new recipes to feed my family. I can’t even fold laundry without it being a big pile. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. With time management, I can walk my dog on a sunny weekend, properly prepare a list of ingredients to try a new recipe, and watch a funny show with my husband as I fold laundry.

Being a breadwinner–not even the main one—as a woman somehow makes people question your relationship. I knew when the Beard and I decided to get married that it was clear what our roles were. No threatened womanhood or manhood here. But thank you for asking!

I’m not missing out. I’m soaking in every bit of our life together as best I can. After being apart from Ryan for SO long during his deployment, trips to the field, and school, we both learned that our time together is limited and precious. It’s worth to the work and separation.

I have to admit, for a while I wanted to stay at home after having kids. But who says I can’t strike a happy medium and balance something? Who says one way is better than the other anyway? We love the home and life we built together and the adventures we’ve been able to take around the world. None of this would be possible without my part and I am happy to contribute.

The reality is, we are ok. We will be ok. And it’s because of solid goals that our children won’t suffer in a home that is lacking in good work ethic and the appreciation for quality time.

So while you sit there and judge me, insinuating I’m a lackluster wife, dog-mother, homemaker or whatever job you don’t see me succeeding at, take a second and look at what you’re doing to us as women, as fellow human beings. Women’s rights didn’t stand for just working women, it stood for you too. Don’t shit on that civil movement by putting down one of your own in an effort to put yourself on a pedestal.

Your struggle is different than mine. Your success is different than mine. It would behoove you to understand that there is such thing is diversity and if what I’m going through interests you so much, then try it sometime. Until then, please show some respect. We need each other to break the stereotypes that malign us to begin with.

*DROP THE MIC*

Kenneth H. Will

grandpa

Kenneth H. Will was born and raised in Cleveland, served in the US Army during World War II in Europe, and returned home a decorated veteran.  He was the father of five, grandfather of 13, great-grandfather of 19.

But of the legacy he left, my favorite part was the impact he made on Ryan’s life. Ryan has had a lot of great figures he’s looked up to over the years from the church, the Army, his own father and brothers–but Grandpa was a special connection for him that he carried with him through childhood up through adulthood.

BA

I tried to make it a point to call Grandpa every other week or so to check on him and catch up as long as he could manage. No matter how weak in health he was getting due to the cancer, the man remembered the name of every single person in the family. And without fail, he would beam with pride about Ryan’s Army service.

Perhaps it was the shared appreciation for being a gunner during war, being with buddies outside the wire, and honoring their fallen brothers.  These days, we can all be so lucky to have past generations share memories with us as we become adults.

In 2011, soon after we got married, Ryan started expressing to me how much his grandfather meant to him. After just losing my own grandmother that year, we decided to fly to Cleveland to see him and the rest of the Will family in the area. It had been my first time seeing all of them and Ryan’s first time since he was a teenager. We then visited the following year after finding out Grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, and again (PTL) for his 90th birthday that summer. That was the last time we saw him, but it was when he was in good spirits, surrounded by his whole family. We couldn’t have asked for a better goodbye. I was told that Gramp thought about every single one of us in his dreams and we would like to think he thought of us when he passed in his sleep.

The whole family made it to Cleveland again last month to pay final respects to the patriarch who brought us all together. The wild and diverse dynamic of the family is precisely what has made it strong, and it was a blessing to not only see this again, but to know that I’m part of it as well.

Military honors for a true hero. We will miss you grandpa!

Memorial

Bronze star

Old house