Monday, October 1, 2012

When 'Why Don't You Take It Easy?' Is a Hurtful Question

I really wish people would stop asking me why I'm not taking it easy.Or when I'm going to start taking it easy. Aside from having to work to both make ends meet and prepare our savings for my unpaid maternity leave and not wanting put P. in front of yet another video every day of the week, there's also the very real fact that there are some things that only I seem to do around the house.

Mowing the lawn, for instance. Should I be mowing the lawn in my 'delicate condition'? I have no idea. But if I don't want our yard to turn into a ghetto jungle then every other week or so I better haul out the push mower and run it around the front and back lawns. Currently - and it's not always like this - dishes seem to be my responsibility. The last time I tried to play it cool and said something like "Gosh, I feel like there are always dishes in the sink," the mister sighed and said "Yeah, I wish there was somewhere in our kitchen where we could fit a dishwasher."

I imagined stuffing myself into a cabinet at that moment. Look, I fit!

Maybe I'm being overly dramatic, but much of the time it feel likes if I don't plan and make dinner, we wouldn't eat. I make the mister's lunch, because otherwise he's just going to go to the coffee shop. Somehow, cleaning the detritus leftover from his office move has fallen to me - not officially, but if I don't chip away at it, I know it's never going to happen. And on and on, including coordinating the scrap metal pick up of the deceased washer and figuring out car repairs (since I'd wager I'm going to end up doing that, too). At the very least, I stopped putting away the mister's laundry and haven't done anything other than spot mop in forever.

So I'm taking it as easy as I can without my house turning into a slum. How's that?

This would all be different if I wasn't working. This is probably me being overly dramatic again, but sometimes I can't help feeling like the mister gets all the benefits of a housewife while the pseudo-housewife in question goes slowly out of her mind. Does he do whatever I ask, if I ask? Absolutely, though sometimes with an attitude like 'I'm at work all day, when exactly do you expect me to help out with all this stuff and if I do I can't spend that time with P.' And goodness, do I ever enable it because I feel guilty that I get to spend more time with her.

I don't like to admit that I have failed, but here is an area where I have absolutely failed:

My plan was never to work in a W-2 type job for almost two years. I thought I'd be there for a year, tops, while I picked up enough freelance clients to make ends meet without having to go into an office. Instead, I worked out a telecommuting arrangement and kept a stiff upper lip as various clients made the decision to downgrade service packages. And stressed to the point of being in tears every weekend, I let another client go. I just couldn't - can't - handle Monday-Friday work, being the primary homemaker, childcare, and having no weekends to speak of because I'm trying to build a freelance base back up. Oh, hey, still pregnant, too.

I'm sure plenty of the people who will read this will be shaking their heads and asking "Well, who could?" Beats me. I thought I could. And maybe I could have if the mister didn't get home at 7 p.m. or I had some other kind of support or or or who knows. Something had to give eventually, I guess. Put too much on a single plate and you're going to spill your food on the floor when you try to carry it to a table a mile away.

But now, work beckons me back - as does the laundry and yet another sink full of dishes. The disaster of a guest room/future nursery. Freelance work. Maybe when I've done all of it, I'll stuff myself into that cabinet.


  1. I had a pretty tough pregnancy this time around, and I have to say my house absolutely fell apart. I think the lawn was mowed twice the entire summer and that was only after I nagged and nagged. The Boy decided to have a growth spurt, and instead of pulling out the bigger hand-me-downs and storing away the smaller clothes, I just dug through the bin and grabbed what I needed. There are unmated socks on the folding table from spring. Now that the baby's here, I have a lot of extra energy to get some stuff done. We're still sending The Boy to daycare for some playtime twice a week, so I have time to catch up on things. I'm still not mowing the lawn or pruning the bushes for fall, but if it doesn't happen this year I don't think anyone else will notice (or at least that's what I'll tell myself).

    1. Honestly, I wish I had a more live-and-let-live attitude toward, say, the baby clothes or the lawn or... anything. But I literally get depressed (the same way I do if I don't exercise) if my space is chaotic. Or maybe a better way to describe it is that chaos around me creates chaos in my brainspace, like my internal and my external are all mixed up. So it's pretty hard for me to let things go because then I turn into a sopping mess.

  2. I desperately wish that I lived closer to you. I think you need a friend who will come over, take P for play time or even *gasp* help you around the house! That's what we're on this earth for... to help each other out!

    But seriously, for someone to ask *why* you're not taking it easy... that's just rude. Why are people so weird?

    1. You're so sweet!

      Don't think I don't have that kind of friend - we've been gifted with out of the blue dinners and so on. I think that part of the problem is I'm afraid to ask for help, as many people are. There's so much focus on self sufficiency socially that to admit things are too much is really, really hard! I think that's why I did it on the blog first.

      And as for the rude folks... my guess is that the mouth-brain filter is under-evolved on a LOT of people :)

  3. Oy, I hear you. Carolyn Hax had a nice piece of advice a few weeks ago about this very issue, and suggested sitting down to make a list of All The Things That Need Doing around the house (to which both partners contribute to-dos). Then you figure out when both partners are home, what your natural strengths/inclinations are, and hope that seeing the list all written out makes the recalcitrant partner say ok, someone has to step up.

    Alternatively you can figure out what might not need doing as often/as much. I'm not a believer that "If only one person cares about it then that person has to do it." I am a believer in "if nobody wants to dust fortnightly then by god let's stop dusting and then take turns.

    I don't have a magic answer for "he'll do it if I ask but not on his own," except to say that maybe setting out, together, what needs doing at least opens a conversation about equal participation, etc. Maybe he just doesn't "get it," maybe he's got "dirt blindness," maybe you have different values systems about what a standard of cleanliness is. But seriously, eff mowing the lawn while pregnant.

  4. I know how you feel! I need order and neatness or my sanity goes out the window.


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