Sometimes I view my life as a series of incremental days where I work hard in my home in some sort of effort to deserve whatever particular, small goal I want for the evening. What do I want? Some things remain constant from day to day: an orderly home. Children well-cared for. Other wants vary from day to day and often involve my social or leisure life: now and then, a cocktail and movie with my girlfriends. Time at night, in bed, to sip a beer while I read. Permission to leave the home to workout or go visit with a friend. But every day, driving me most of all: wherever I may go for the evening I want a husband who, when he gets home from work, enjoys a tidy house, clean and well-rested children, and dinner already simmering on the stove. I’m proud to say most days I accomplish this last, most important, goal.
Besides the shortsighted yet repetitive nature of these efforts – even though meeting them daily means establishing very satisfying long-term benefits – what strikes me most is that the one obstacle that looms before every single one of my desires is our money, or the lack thereof. I operate constantly under an inner voice that speaks to me about money. Sometimes the voice is very frightened; often it is merely preoccupied. It seems unfair. My husband works his ass off, and the kids and I eat it all up as quickly as he earns it. It’s so funny – I used to have “enough”. I don’t know how it was “enough” and why now what I have isn’t; there could be many reasons for this perception. Back when I had enough it was before I had my children, and during the years of my career. I worked; I earned; I spent. I did not have the constant tension I carry now. Yet, this tension exists concurrently with my absolute conviction that it is a choice to live the way we do. And in this case when I say “living the way we do” I am referring to the choice of being a single-income family in a small burg with a relatively high cost of living (there are other aspects to living as we do that I’m not talking about here). Our choice for me to stay home has mostly been wonderful, but it is such a change – in every way – from where I was only a few years ago. It is funny, I suppose, to think of a college-educated female raised in a country that heralds personal power and financial gains as King, to spend so many days simply thinking on what to clean and when and what to eat and how to cook it (that last sentence fragment really, really, is 80% of my day). Sure, I pursue other things – but most of my day’s goals are set on engineering the same small domestic feats, day after day.
Today I want to go out for the evening, and tomorrow I am leaving on a roadtrip. So I work even more diligently than usual, occasionally putting children in front of their favorite movie, washing the dishes that didn’t get done from last night’s three-family dinner, cleaning leftovers out of fridge, washing the breakfast dishes, scrubbing the oven and coffeemaker, wiping down kitchen table and walls and doing Whatever It Takes to get the laundry completely done (yes, I have achieved success in this today, another accomplishment I am proud of). Amidst all that I manage to dress myself and my children, perform rudimentary personal grooming, cuddle, read stories, make a card for and visit my husband, pick up lunch, deliver a child to and from school, kiss and hug my children many times, and return an email. Thank God the stream of emails and calls have been slow lately. Unless that means people hate me; nevertheless, for now, I am enjoying relative peace.
Speaking of enjoyment, I am currently digging David Byrne’s mp3 stream, even if my silly-assed connection burps and skips now and then (note to self: consult Ralph for a fix, offering sex if needed). The current Afro-Cuban playlist was lovely to cook dinner to last night.
And now: a return to my domestic sphere. A cup of coffee. A few moments enjoying the stillness of my home as my children sleep in clean sheets and soft beds.