One of my favorite shows these days is This Is Us. It is most people our age’s favorite show because it tackles topics we are living and breathing every single day. And that fire episode… I did not use my crock pot for months after that episode!
This week’s episode hit on a topic super close to home at our house… who “bends” (or takes the lesser role) professionally in your relationship? In the episode, through a series of flashbacks, we learn that Beth has always been the one to bend in her relationship with Randall, and it all comes to a head when she refuses to once again bend for him. I will admit, at first I felt like she should have been the one to bend. He just won the local Councilman race and was bending over backwards (see what I did there?) for her new dance career. Those were my feelings before I understood she had always been the one to bend.
This is an important topic at our house, because I am in year 3 of 5 being the one who is bending professionally. And let me tell you folks, while I know it is the right thing (and my time to bend), it is HARD.
When I look back, though I am proud of how me and the husband have both been benders over the years, and he has a job that does not allow for a lot of bending.
I had the gift of 5 years of doing only what I wanted to do professionally. And lets face it folks, I was never going to be the breadwinner. But there were times when I felt guilty or like I was not “doing my part” by bringing home the second steady income. The husband moonlighted and did extra projects to make up for my lack of income. And it was a great 5 years. I helped create a positive behavior support program for a local school, I was a Girls on the Run Coach, I started my very own non profit, and wrote and published a book. Whew.
My non profit was my baby. I nurtured her in some ways better than my own children. I created her from scratch and loved the work I was doing. But she was just that… a very small non profit. So when we made the decision to leave public school for both kiddos, I closed my non profit and took a less desirable job that paid well. It is a massive organization, and the first job I have ever had where living in an at-will state would impact me. (Teachers no matter what state you live in have to be really, really bad and try really, really hard in order to get fired). My job is a numbers game and almost weekly someone quits, is fired, promoted, or moved to another department. It can be incredibly stressful, but I have managed to stay gainfully employed for 3 years by keeping my head down, staying in my lane, working hard, and relying on a small network of work friends to keep me sane and happy.
Whenever I am upset for being the one who is currently bending in our relationship, I look at my children and how amazing they are doing in their private school. Even 8th grade has been tolerable in this setting. And they are completely and totally different types of learners. So it says a lot that they are both thriving in this environment. I will get back to doing what I love, and until then I am finding other ways to stay connected with what I love (like this blog!)
Now before I close, I want to add in another perspective. There are families where one parent chooses not to work outside of the home. I do not mean to imply by being a stay at home parent you are automatically the one bending in the relationship. Some people truly enjoy this role. And if it is something you truly love, in my opinion, you are not bending. If anything your partner is most likely the one bending to make that happen.
So there you have it folks. My take on bending and how it has looked in our family. I do hope Beth and Randall figure it out. I am rooting for their marriage!