Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I don't work

Me, working on a special birthday cake*
It seems lately, I've been told by others more often than usual (or maybe I'm just noticing it more) about how I don't work.

Even my children will throw this out when they want me to drop everything at a moment's notice to do things for them "But you don't work, so you can drive us wherever we want to go right. this. second."

Well, in one respect, they are right. I don't get up each day, get ready, and then leave for a job. I don't get pay checks at the end of the week. I don't get bonuses for doing extra well at my job. I don't have sick pay, or time off. I don't have a boss breathing down my neck, giving me more tasks than the job description listed. I don't do ornament exchanges for winter holidays with my coworkers. I don't have to fight rush hour to get to a job. I don't have to worry about having a work appropriate attire. I don't have to rush to get my kids to school or day care or summer camp so that I can rush to make it to work on time. And I don't have to worry about how many days off I have left when my child gets a stomach virus. Again. I don't get to be employee of the month. Or talk about my newest promotion.

It's true. that I don't leave the house each day to go to a job.

But to say I don't work?

Um. Pardon me?

I don't work?

No, I think what you mean to say is I don't work for pay.

Because I work every single day.

Does my work look the same as my husband's (who works a traditional 9-5 job in an office)? Nope. We both face unique sets of challenges in our work.

Is my work harder? On some days it is. On some days it is definitely not. And I think on most days, neither of us have it harder - we just have it different. 

And my staying home is a gift to my husband. It means he doesn't have to miss work when they are sick. Or take time off to have a school conference mid-day. It means that for the most part, his vacation days are used for vacation. Sometimes, sometimes, he has to miss to come home to care for someone - usually me. Or to drive the kids if I am just beyond the ability to do that. Sometimes he takes times off for not fun things - like when we moved last year. And sometimes he takes a half-day so he can get himself in for his yearly physical (that is more like every 5 years). But mostly, he doesn't have to worry about missing because of the kids.

On the flip side, my husband working is a gift to me. It means a paycheck is coming into the house. That we have health insurance through his job. It means I can stay home and not have a paying job, and we will be able to put food on the table, pay the rent, splurge on cable, and buy the ever-growing children new clothes as necessary.

He is not more important than I am. And I am not more important than he is. We both contribute a lot to this family, but in different ways.

But my staying home is also a gift to other people. It allows me to help take care of granny. It allows me to pick friends' children up at school should they get sick mid-day and mom and/or dad can't get there right away. It allows me to have kids over on a snow day that their parents couldn't get off. I get to babysit for people if they need it midweek.

I have the freedom to do these things on some days.

On other days, I can't have another child over. Or leave to pick you up at the airport. I'm juggling my own three kids - still homeschooling two of them. I've got my doctor's appointments, their appointments, granny's appointments. I've got to pick this one up from school because she's staying late for a club, then I've got to get this one to floor hockey. And we're all out of milk so I need to do that. There is laundry to do, floors to sweep and vacuum, fridges to be cleaned out and stocked. I have papers to grade. Treats to bake for a bake sale. I have medicines to keep track of and to pass out on time.

Some days I am home for just a few moments in between running to and fro. Drop daughter off at school, go to doctor's appointment, stop at grocery store, run home for lunch, get kid to their appointment, take kids to library, swing by the house to grab sports gear. Get kid to practice. Run to pharmacy. Pick kid up. Come home cook dinner.

On other days I can't leave the house. A sick kid, unsteady granny. I'm tied to this house. Someone here can't be left alone. Or I can't drive. As I get slammed with a migraine. Or lymphedema pain requires prescription pain killers. These days have me taking care of others, or hiding in the dark, or e-mail grocery lists to the husband or texting to see if he can stop at the pharmacy.

Some days are slow. I can clean in the morning. And have the afternoon to knit. Or read. Or decide to reorganize the pantry. Not every day is a flurry of activity, of running to and fro.

Through it all, I am ruled by meal times. Breakfast at 7:45. Lunch at 12. Snack at 3/3:30. Dinner at 6.. Except on Sunday. Then we eat at 5/5:30 because 60 Minutes comes on at 6.

These are my days. This is what I do. Just like my husband's job: some days are busy and hectic. And some days are slower and more relaxing.

This is what I do. This is what I choose to do. I mostly don't mind it.

Sometimes it wears on me. Sometimes it's overwhelming. Sometimes I think I just need 10 minutes to sit and do nothing and please no one need me for the next 10 minutes or my head might explode.

Sometimes I wish I'd hear thank you more often. Sometimes I want to say screw the thank you, bring me dinner. Sometimes I wish I felt more valued, not taken for granted so much.

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed when I get a really big thank you, or a gift out of nowhere just because someone wanted to treat me or say thanks or just be nice. Sometimes my heart goes pitter-patter on the rare chance my husband will surprise me with flowers.

It's hard work taking care of other people. Because it is work. It's work that I pretty much love. It's work I want to do. But that doesn't make it less work.

My husband also enjoys his job. He mostly likes getting up each day to go to work. He likes doing a good job and gives it his all each day. But that doesn't make it less work.

We both work hard. He gets a paycheck. I don't. But my work is no less important or valid because of it.

I do work. I work very hard.

I just don't get paid. At least not in money. Because I bet my husband doesn't get hugs and kisses from the people he works with.

*I tried to find a picture of me "working" except I'm almost always taking the photos, so this is the best I could do LOL!

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