Whenever new acquaintances find out that I am a homemaker and that my husband works abroad, I inadvertently get the same reaction: they start telling me how lucky I am that I get to sit around all day doing nothing.

“Uy, swerte mo naman nakasungkit ka ng seaman.” (You’re so lucky you managed to snag a seafarer for a husband)

“Donyang-donya ka. Nakaupo lang naghihintay ng dollars.” (A rough English equivalent of Donya is ‘rich man’s wife’. You’re such a [rich man’s wife]. Sitting around waiting for the dollars to arrive)

“Wow, seaman. Sitting pretty ka na lang.”

I don’t really feel comfortable hearing these statements because I feel that it is judging me as a lazy, gold-digging opportunist. I don’t want to be judged that way. I think no woman with a healthy dose of self-respect would want to be judged that way.

The only thing that women like me want is to be judged for the things that we try hard to achieve and the traits that we try our damnedest to maintain.

So judge us for our strength. Because it is this strength that keeps our families intact. In the absence of our husbands, we have to make decisions on our own. We have to face all the challenges on our own too. Marriage is supposed to be a tag team. But we have nobody to tag whenever we need a break from the endless chores and the errands and the bills that need to be settled in payment centers that are located miles apart.

Judge us because we are jugglers without equal, though we often do the juggling with our eyes closed in prayer that we don’t mess things up.  We have to deal with the discipline. We dole out the rewards. We give and withhold praise. We can’t be too soft. We can’t be too hard. We have to be just right because there’s no one else here to balance it out.

Judge us for our fidelity. Mind you, almost a year of not getting any of that husband-wife-something-something can drive you crazy. It’s so easy to just look for someone, anyone, to scratch the itch. But we do not look for that someone because we value our vows. Because we understand that marriage is more than just getting that something-something, even though it does spice things up. Judge us because in almost a year, we become experts at making ourselves forget that we still have that urge.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I do have a collection of photos of hot men saved on my hard drive, most of whom are half-naked. But these men are all products of the fantasy world inside the television. I have loads of Darryl Dixon screenshots. Tom Mison comes in at a close second, and then there’s Tom Hiddleston and the Hemsworth brothers and all the other drool-worthy Hollywood hunks that every woman is salivating after. Let’s not forget John Lloyd Cruz or JC De Vera, either. Go ahead, judge me for being such a fangirl.

Judge us for our faith. Because it is this faith that allows us to give our full unquestioning trust to our husbands. It is this faith that allows us to believe that our husbands are holding on to the same marriage vows that we hold dear. It is this faith that keeps us sane whenever insensitive fools start teasing us with words like “Seaman? Every port, report (to some nameless female who would scratch the same itch that we’re trying hard not to feel).”  Or “Ang lalake, kahit gano ka kamahal, lalake pa rin yan. Maghahanap at maghahanap yan ng butas na mapapasukan.” (Men are men no matter how much they love you. They would still look for holes to poke their staff into.)

Judge us for our ability to tune out all the negative impressions and focus on what truly matters to us: love, family, and a stable home.

Judge us for who we are, not for who we’re not.

Besides, most of us do have our own ways of contributing to the family’s finances. Even if it’s not through the usual 9-5 jobs. Even if we took a path that not every career woman chose to take. The important thing is: we contribute.