Andrea Mowery writes about life on her blog, About 100 Percent.
But sometimes, life needs a little boost. You know, a few extra degrees to the bitter cold in this soccer story. A few theatrical moments there to round out the story better. You might consider her tactics untrustworthy, and she acknowledges that in her FAQ page.
It’s the ultimate disclaimer.
Because if we’re going to tell a story, well, it ought to have a little extra hot sauce. Be served up on the good plates (those are the ones without Spongebob’s likeness). Have some of those fancy spices only Betty Crocker uses.
She writes as an almost unapologetic self-deprecating soul, photogenic, intelligent, insightful and poignant. With a goodly dose of bravery mixed in. There is nothing less than 100 percent about the impact her words can have on anyone who reads them.
She’s so unabashedly truthful, it’s endearing. Today, she’s here to write about her shared life at home. It’s raw, and honest, like so much of her work. You’ll love it, and you’ll want to read more. I can guarantee it. Like, almost 100 percent, even.
Give Andrea a warm CD welcome.
A Shared Life
When my husband and I got married, we did most things together.
We both had jobs close to home, and left the house around the same time every day. We returned at the same time, too. Each evening was spent together, and each weekend was filled with shared tasks and activities.
We cooked dinner together and ate in front of the TV while we watched game shows and sitcoms. We had a dining area, but preferred to bond over our meals while laughing over the silliness of television programming. Downtime was spent enjoying each other’s company, whether we watched a movie, spent time with friends, or sat around snuggling.
We cleaned on the weekends, a superficial task that took so little time that it wasn’t even a matter of concern. We each paid our share of the bills, did the laundry when we needed to, shopped for food on Sundays, and regularly took our cars in for oil changes and tire rotations like responsible adults. When we adopted a little dog, we took turns at the vet.
We did everything together, and even though we never formally analyzed the distribution of tasks, we each did half of all the work that needed to be done to maintain our shared life.
Now, not so much. Today I am a stay at home and my husband’s job requires that he is away from home most of the time. He works to provide all the money we live on, and all of the daily household tasks fall on my shoulders.
My part of this new equation is really fulfilling. Cooking an endless loop of quick meals that are met with raised eyebrows and food pushed around plates, chasing dust bunnies, and folding the same towels over and over and over and over forever all give me a sense of profound worth and accomplishment more than any other job I’ve had.
I won’t lie – it’s awful. I hate that I’m the one who has to decide what we eat for every single meal. I hate that if I don’t take care of the laundry, there will be no clean clothing. I hate that I am the only one who knows that a household needs things like stamps and pencils and key rings. I miss the equal distribution of menial, mind-numbing tasks. I go through periods of yawning desperation where I dream about running through the front door and never coming back.
After so many years of doing thankless tasks, I feel like I’m a less interesting person. My self-worth crashes against a ceiling that seems to lower every day. Confidence in my own abilities beyond toilet cleaning and keeping the fridge free of furry food has been a struggle for me to maintain. My invisible work has made me feel invisible.
Yet this is my life. I stayed home – fought tooth and nail, actually – for the purpose of raising our children and taking care of our house. I joke that I’m not meant to have a job that requires me to show up on time, dress appropriately, employ politically correct language or behavior, and be responsible for tasks that get the job done for someone else, but some days it’s not funny.
Supporting our family financially has become my husband’s sole responsibility. He excels at his job and is rewarded. Our society tells us that visible jobs are worth more. Money is the tangible glory of success, and the worth of a person who makes it is firmly established. Confidence comes from knowing that one does a good job; it’s all spelled out on a paycheck. I have to admit that I can be jealous of him because of this. I want my worth to be as clearly indicated.
When I start feeling sorry for myself, I am reminded that my husband does not have it easy. His job stressors are complex. He deals with daily issues that would send me into a tailspin. He has to work closely with other people constantly. And his job requires that he is away from his family. He misses the moments that contain our children’s growth: their very first words and innocent observations, simple joys like blowing bubbles in the backyard, lying on the sofa watching cartoons, concerts and games and field trips, and conversations about their thoughts and feelings and dreams. For me – whose daily life has been shaped around these moments – missing any of it is unimaginable.
We’ve both made sacrifices. Mine are stated loudly and often – I am not a silent martyr. I gave up further education, a career, and countless opportunities because they do not fit into our lifestyle. I chose never missing a moment of my kids’ lives over these things. My husband’s sacrifices look like missing yet another milestone while spending more time away from his family. He is not nearly as vocal about it, but I know it bothers him.
Despite all this, we know that we’ve made the right choice. We’ve done our best so far, both accomplishing much in our respective positions. He can say he’s done his best and so can I. Each of us has reason to be proud of our achievements no matter what we gave up to get here, no matter how off-balance the distribution of tasks, and no matter our discernible rewards. There’s no use in complaining, and as my mother never fails to remind me, “You signed up for this.”
She’s right – we did. And for now, our shared life will stay as it is. Though I can’t help but feel that if I have to fold one more pair of socks or scrub the bathtub one more time, I just might lose my mind.