The Real World or When JPII Has My Back

Friday, July 17, 2015

This week, over at Blessed Is She, we're talking about real.

When I saw the prompt, I instantly thought of a bagillion directions to go in. "Real" is a word that gets thrown around about everything from body type (ex. "real women have curves" campaign) to food (ex. "real food movement"). But the one type of "real" that has impacted my life a lot lately is what constitutes the "real world", "real job", and "real world experience."

We live in a college town, and every year around graduation time people start talking a lot about where they are going from here. That's great! I love making plans. Big plan and list maker over here! What I don't love is when I hear moms deploring their work as moms for not being "real experience" or a "real job" That just makes me sad.

You see, valuing work solely by its worldly determined monetary value does a great job of marginalizing everyone who does not fall into the college through retirement age work force. Stay at home moms, kids, retirees, the sick and disabled, elderly  - these are people who can suddenly no longer be considered doing anything of value for society. And I just don't think that's true.

I'm a stay at home mom. All the people I see every day primarily fall into one of these marginalized categories. For ten hours a day the "not at paid work"-ers are making a community without the "paid workers." We do miss y'all! We really do. But we are not helpless without you for that time. We find joy, and assistance, and ideas among ourselves.

In Pope St. John Paul II's Letter to Women, he writes:

 "Progress usually tends to be measured according to the criteria of science and technology. Nor from this point of view has the contribution of women been negligible. Even so, this is not the only measure of progress, nor in fact is it the principal one. Much more important is the social and ethical dimension, which deals with human relations and spiritual values. In this area, which often develops in an inconspicuous way beginning with the daily relationships between people, especially within the family, society certainly owes much to the 'genius of women.'"

I think what truly makes something of the "real world" are those times when we are interacting with other people. "Real world experience " is not had in the manipulation of a spreadsheet. It is a marketable skill, for sure, but it's not really real world experience. The real world experience came from maintaining relationships with your co-workers so you can have a healthy office environment. It came from working out problems you encounter, and learning how to admit when you made a mistake or need help.

These are all things that can be accomplished outside of the office environment. They are not improved by being monetarily compensated. Returning/joining the workforce is a big decision, but don't do it to "gain real world experience". I would bet that you have much more "real world experience", and opportunities for it, than you realize.


  1. A wonderful reflection on 'real'. Thank God for St JP and his insight into the feminine genius!

    1. Thanks! Just clicked over to your blog and see you're in Ireland. The husband and I are planning an Ireland trip next summer for our 5th anniversary, so we'll have to connect!

  2. YES. What we as stay-at-home moms are doing is very REAL. It is so sad and hard that much of society downplays it as not "constructive" to the rest of society because it so very much is. Thanks for linking up with Blessed is She, Kirby! :)


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