I just had an epiphany. It was amazing.
(Seriously – I have a book coming at the end of the year with a character that has epiphanies. So I’m feeling very Vinnie-like at the moment.)
The epiphany I had involves a little of my history. I’m not sure why I didn’t see it before! I claim baby brain, although my youngest is six…
Anyway, to take you back to my you’ve-become-a-responsible-adult period of my life. I was young and studying full-time (40 hours) at university. I’d just started dating the man who I’d end up marrying. I was also working 25 hours a week. Hubby was also studying full-time and working about the same amount of hours. (At the same place! Workplace romances at the best.) It was hard and I was struggling to fit in the study and the work as well as a social life, but luckily I was living at home and Mum was there to help with the meals and washing.
Hubby and I figured out early in our relationship that we’d found someone special, and we decided to move in together. But I didn’t want to rent, which meant we had to save enough for a house and commit to a mortgage. We weren’t earning enough with our two part-time jobs for a bank loan, so I made one of the best decisions of my life. I quit university and went out and found a full-time job.
After 6 months, we’d saved enough and had enough credit history to sink our dough into a house. It was a small, run-down house in a not-so-good suburb. But we could (just) afford the mortgage with our 1.5 salaries and we were determined.
(Hubby then broke his ankle and was unable to work for over six weeks, but that’s another story.)
For the next 18 months we worked it hard. Hubby finished studying, found a trainee apprenticeship and went to work full-time. With both of us working, we often were tired and fought about dumb things – whose turn was it to do the dishes/cooking/washing and who worked harder than the other. The house was rundown, and so any extra money we had went on renovations – and those take time and effort. Time went by. Hubby quit his job and found a better one, with more pay. I changed jobs for less stress and more money. Hubby was made redundant, then found a better job.
We worked, we saved, we were tired. My job especially was one that required horrendous hours one week a month, so I would come home grumpy and would bitch about the mess.
Then, around the time we got married, I quit my job. I looked at hubby with his nice salary and said, “Do you know what? I’m not going to find a full-time job. We’re planning on trying for a baby, and I don’t need the stress of another full-time job. I’m going to find a part-time one.”
BEST. DECISION. EVER.
And this is why I can’t believe I never saw it before. I often tell people that our relationship was 600% better once I had a part-time job. I worked 26 hours a week over four days. It meant I was home an hour earlier than hubby each week day, and would clean up the house and have dinner started by the time he got home. It also meant I had one day a week to do all of those jobs like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning. It left our weekends free, stopped our petty fights about whose turn it was for the dishes and left me so less stressed.
I advocate for couples to spend less time at work, and lessen the stress on their relationship. I’m happy to be the one who takes on the greater burden of housework and only work part-time. I believe that people are obsessed with material possessions, and should take a step back from that drive to earn more-more-more so they can have more-more-more.
So what’s my epiphany? Somewhere along the way I stopped applying this to my life. Nine years ago I stopped working when I had my first child. Then I had another. I raised the children and did the housework, while hubby worked full-time. Anyone with children will realise that being a mother can be a full-time job in itself.
Financially we were a bit stretched, and hubby said that when our youngest hit school, I should go out and find a small job for a bit of extra cash. I chose to try and build myself a career from writing. Instead of working 10 hours a week at a job outside the home, I’m putting in about 30 hours a week to writing.
But wow. Hang on. If mothering is a full-time job (and I’m nodding very hard here) and the housework now includes cooking and cleaning for four people, and on top of that I’ve added 30 hours of writing work… I’m working the equivalent of 1.5 full-time jobs. Oh, wow. No wonder I’m frazzled.
I often see authors who mention their Significant Other in terms of them supporting their writing by “helping out” with some of the paperwork side. Their husbands accompany them to signings, assist with shipping, format their documents, upload to Amazon, and keep an eye on sales. I’m “totes jelly” over it. My hubby is a wonderful man, but everything to do with writing is not his thing. Ask him to build an aquarium stand using only the material from an old, large wooden crate – he did it. Ask him to build a retaining wall – he did it. Ask him to paint the house, install insulation, retile the bathroom, lay flooring, pave the patio area, install curtaining, service the car, remodel the kitchen, or design and build a retic system for the garden… Pft! Did you want that done today, or next weekend?
So I limp along, knowing he doesn’t understand a single thing I worry about. And I keep it to myself. And I probably keep it to myself about how much work I actually do. Because it’s never occurred to me that I’m probably working too hard.
I need to give myself a break – not only an actual break, but also not be so hard on myself. I need to stop comparing myself to authors who are either single persons or have a support network that allows them to disappear into their writing cave for fourteen hours. I need to stop thinking about how many words per hour this author writes compared to me. I guess I need to stop comparing full-stop.
I write this blog for my own satisfaction, but also for anyone who tries to compare themselves negatively to others. Maybe you don’t have the full picture. You see that mother at the school with four kids who are always dressed impeccably and a full-time job… but you don’t realise her mother lives with her and can take care of the cleaning and ironing. You see your workmate who earns the same amount as you, but has rocked up to work in a brand new BMW… but you don’t realise their father gave them the money. You see your friend has lost another 5kgs while you’re still struggling with the first two… but you don’t realise that their body is different to yours and they have a different lifestyle to you.
Let’s stop being so hard on ourselves, okay? There’s enough in this world to worry about and people who will hassle us without unnecessarily adding to it. Happy weekend. *hugs*
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