I’m Much More Than a Maid
Most people would look at me and decide that I live a privileged life. I drive a nice car, we live in a gorgeous hot sunny country, my husband has a good job, and we have two gorgeous kids that, most of the time, look respectable and well dressed. Most people would then look again and say “…and you don’t have to work? You’re so lucky!”
Now most of the time, I would probably agree with them. I am lucky, but then both my husband and I have worked really hard to get to the point where I don’t HAVE to work. We pull our belts a little tighter and prioritise.
However, just because I don’t have to work, doesn’t mean I DON’T work. At the moment, I may not be getting paid for what I do, but I do work – yet the thing that irritates me the most is when those who do get a wage look at me as if what I do is less important because I don’t.
So I am here to set the record straight.
You may get paid a pay check each month for the work that you do, but that does not diminish my worth or indeed the worth of my work. I am a writer, I write all day every day and yes, I may not be making a lot of money anymore (I did, of course, when I was working for magazines, but that was before I had a family and kids…) but now I write what I want, for who I want. After 8 years out of the industry I am finally building my portfolio again…
But I digress, and when I say digress I mean I am trying to JUSTIFY myself – which in itself is exactly the problem. Why do I feel the need to justify myself?
I am currently writing a novel. A dream of mine since I was a small child. Since getting married and settling down, my husband has worked his way up in business to earn enough so I can take the time to follow my dreams. Many couples do it. Some go back to university to study, or re-train, and because they are at school or going to an institution each day it is deemed as “work” and their time spent doing this is respected. With me, however, that is not the case.
I have very nearly finished my novel and, despite the fact that I have two small children under my feet, a household to run, school runs and a husband to keep happy, it has only taken me 2 years to get to this point.
Don’t scoff! I know there may be a few of you out there that think you could write a book in less time than that, but I assure you it is much harder than you think!
I get really upset with people that say I am “lucky” because I don’t have a job. They do not see the meticulous organisation behind the scenes just so that I can free up some much needed time to focus on my novel. I have to transport myself to a different ‘world’ and that on its own is not easy when you have two kids screaming at you for their dinner or fighting over whose lipstick it is that they are smearing all over the TV screen. Some days I really don’t feel lucky at all. In fact some days I wish I could go back in time and appreciate the hours I spent working in a job with an office and work hours and no distractions.
Before I got pregnant I was on even footing with my husband. We both had successful careers and worked hard to earn our own money.
When we got pregnant, we decided that we did not want to have to have our kids brought up by someone else. My husband wanted me to be the one to bring the kids up, at least until they were at school age and ready to be taught life lessons by someone other than their mother.
We decided, together, that in actual fact me being at home to raise our kids was a blessing. My husband took on the stressful pressure of knowing that he would have to earn enough to support his entire family.
The problem only came a few years later, and after the birth of our second daughter.
I had struggled during the pregnancy and first two years of my daughter’s life to reconcile the fact that I was no longer bringing in my own money. I struggled with the idea that my partner’s money was now OUR money. I had never spent a day of my adult life without a job; in fact I had been earning since the age of 13 and now struggled with the idea that I couldn’t buy myself a top or pair of jeans without feeling like I needed to ask permission.
With a second child on the way, the prospect of returning to my career was at least another four or five years away. I was exited to have a sibling for my daughter, but it meant having to postpone ME for another 4 years.
So as a distraction, I started to bake! Those who knew me at the time laughed their asses off. I am no chef, or master baker, and as a youngster I could burn a salad! But somehow, amidst all the baby brain chemicals, I had learnt how to make a cake and I was pretty good at it – so I made birthday cakes, wedding cakes and any kind of cakes that I could get people to PAY me to make. If my baby brain had killed off any brain cells capable of holding a conversation or writing a legible article, the least I could do was make money by using my hands.
Once my hormones stabilised, my husband was quick to remind me that actually I didn’t LIKE making wedding cakes. It was stressful and time consuming and for someone that had once had opinions and was very vocal at expressing them, maybe it was about time I start to ‘find myself’ again.
So with my second daughter now here and my husband getting on pretty well at work, we decided, jointly, that I should pursue my real true passion and get back to writing. To finally write that novel.
Sounds rosy doesn’t it? NOPE – NOT ALWAYS.
See herein lies the problem.
I am still not earning!
Yes I am following my dreams, I am writing and close to realising a lifelong ambition, the only problem is, I am not yet adding any valuable pennies to the family pot. Not a problem with a husband who is so incredibly supportive of my somewhat fantastical ideas.
At least that is true until we have a fight.
“It’s my house, my car, and my money,” he says.
Words that don’t just push my buttons but blow up a bomb in me.
“You are a housewife; it’s your job to make sure that things are done”.
WOW REALLY?!! When did we decide that exactly?!
Don’t call me a housewife! I am NOT a housewife.
I am a mother, a wife, writer and an aspiring author. Housewife I am not.
Now for the ladies among you that will be offended by this statement (and I am more than aware that there will be a few) I have nothing against being a housewife. In fact, I applaud you – because I just can’t do it.
When I met my husband he made it clear that he never expected me to iron his shirts, and nor did he want me to. He married me because I challenged him, not because he needed a maid, and I respected him and loved him all the more for it.
I love to cook him dinner, I love to make the house look nice for him, but I do it out of love, not out of duty. He doesn’t want me to be a housewife… unless of course, he wants to shift his priorities and have me do the work because he can’t be bothered. THEN he wants a housewife, or a mother, and I am neither!
My head is filled with a million lists. Lists of school parties and play dates, homework tasks and shopping lists. My head is so full to bursting with all this shit and my OWN writing world on top of that, but I categorise my life and prioritise. It is not my job to organise and priorities his life.
To expect my husband to remember once a year to renew the car insurance should be no big ask.
So why am I having this rant? One reason only. Because now I am at the point where my children (5 and 7) are now in full time school. This means during arguments, my husband can now use the card “you don’t do fuck all – all day long!” and because I’m not being paid for what I AM doing, I have no defence.
Even if I were a housewife… is it acceptable to assume that we have to justify ourselves because we do not earn a wage? How do you value yourself when others place no value on you?