Guest post: Andrea of About 100 Percent, on a Shared Life


photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc
photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

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.

shared 2

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.

photo credit: Morgon Mae via photopin cc
photo credit: Morgon Mae via photopin cc

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.

photo credit: rachel_titiriga via photopin cc
photo credit: rachel_titiriga via photopin cc

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.

andrea pic

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59 thoughts on “Guest post: Andrea of About 100 Percent, on a Shared Life

  1. Hi Andrea. I enjoyed this, especially your honesty about housework. The early days of marriage are certainly different to what comes after. Children, jobs, stress. I agree, mothers never seem to be treated as workers.

    1. Thanks so much for saying that. Although I definitely don’t think of myself as an employee (of whom? My husband? Our kids?) it’s hard to get everyone to understand that what stay at home parents do is actual work, because the tasks are not easily defined.

      1. Not employee, worker and most mothers are hard workers. I remember watching a current affairs show a few years ago. They went through a woman’s day at home and calculated an hourly rate based on the skills involved. It worked out to a huge annual wage. Which we know is never going to be paid but it highlights how valuable mothers are just on that basis alone. I’m no fan of housework but I do it although I would rather go out and dig post holes.

  2. this is so wonderful and honest, andrea. while it certainly has its challenges, you summed it up best when you said that you wouldn’t miss the special moments for anything. and give yourself permission to let a dust bunny roll by on occasion. ) beth

    1. Thank you, Beth! Everyone knows that what we do is important, but the importance gets lost in the shuffle sometimes. I need frequent perspective adjustments. Letting the dust bunnies go – that helps.

  3. Wow, Eli! Thanks for such kind words. I hope this story resonates with your readers. I’m so excited to be here today – thank you again!

  4. Wonderful guest post and I too am a stay at home/work at home mom, i do get very much what you are saying here. My husband doesn’t go away much, but he works long hours and many days it is just me, the kids and our puppy, too. So, believe me I get so much of this and can very much relate. I love my husband and wouldn’t ever change what we have, but still the day-to-day can get you sometimes. But blogging and getting my feelings out about it does help and just thankful for that I suppose.

    1. A puppy, too? That adds a new level of “to-do” to your day, doesn’t it? Writing has saved me from the dullness of day-to-day, as well as the knowledge that I have the freedom to do what I want. Even if I skip the toilets this week. Again.

  5. I feel like you’re describing my life, Andrea.
    While I did choose this path, and know that my husband wishes he traveled less and spent more time with us, right now, it’s the right thing to do. But it doesn’t make it less likely for us to want to scream into a pillow and reach for the ice cream (okay, just me?).

    1. Ice cream, yes. And chocolate, and chewy candy. I like how you said for right now it’s the right thing to do. Keeping life as flexible as possible helps me get through the parts that are merely drudgery. There’s always the possibility of change.

  6. I remember the first couple of years I stayed home going through these exact feelings. Like Andrea, I was very vocal about how I felt. My husband was really good about reminding me that I didn’t give up my career to clean and cook – I did it to be with our kids. That simple statement made all the difference in the world – it took off the guilt of days spent playing and not cleaning, quick meals instead of those that I worked on for hours…..After that I learned enjoyed my stay at home mom career much more!!!!

    1. The key is to believing that yourself, which is what I always have trouble remembering. I find myself thinking that I’m only good for cleaning up and cooking and organizing everyone else’s stuff, and I get a little crazed over that perspective.

  7. *Sigh* I hear you. Even if we all signed up for it, an occasional rant is OK. I have one more thing for you to joke about it: instead of chasing dust bunnies – or cobwebs for that matter – think of it as getting ready with your Halloween decorations early. There you go, so on top of things!!! 🙂

    1. Such a good idea! It helps that Halloween is the holiday directly after back-to-school, after a summer of complete house neglect. I always did like to get a jump start on my holiday decorating.

  8. Andrea, you hit so close to home for me yet again. As I get older and my kids do, too, I’ve started looking at my worth and my role through different lenses. I’ve tried to analyze life less and just enjoy the good in it. But it’s not easy to maintain a degree of value and worth in this role, and even harder to entertain the idea of a new one.

    1. Enjoying the good in life – it’s what I find myself focusing on more and more, too. My daughter told me last night that I was getting better with using kind words. It was sort of a kick in the gut (what a witch I must have been for her to notice!), but I’m grateful that even though the kids are growing up and starting to pull away from the station, they are also old enough to appreciate the good in our life together.

  9. As always, Andrea, you are real and gritty and honest and I completely respect you for that. You do something that many of us simply could not. I adore my Hub and Kidizilla. I know in my heart that staying home would never work for me, for us. We all have to simply make the choices we know are right for us, for right now. All the rest is just noise.

  10. I love your perspective, and of course, I love you. I can only imagine what the role of stay-at-home-mom feels like, but I do know that, even as a working mom, I often feel taken for granted for all of the “mom” tasks that I do. It is hard to do so much that is recognized so little while it is being done. Although, now that I AM grown and a mom I look back with new appreciation for all the things my mother did for us, and I know that one day my kids will do the same.

  11. Thanks Andrea for being the rock in our home and always having great insight and perspective into our relationship! You are a superstar and I am so grateful we are sharing our lives. (while I sit in an airport waiting to get home one more time :-))

    Love you and see you in the AM, km

  12. A wonderful guest post! I’m so glad I’m not a working mother with small children these days. Now at the end of the day, I can hand my grandchildren back and relax 🙂

  13. Oh I have so much to say…
    but first, I just loved the raw honesty..the truth and nothing but the truth you employed here. Because all of it gets old after so many years of doing it..even if you love doing it, even if you “signed up for it”

    For me, John and I still do many things together..because we work together and commute together and get home at the same time so not one of us gets to say “hey I did THIS all day so I’m not doing THAT…whatever THAT is.”

    Some days this is fine and dandy. Some days I want to run and hide or just leave my house.
    I like working, I like having John drive me to work and home from work…I like knowing we’ll go grocery shopping together or he’ll pick up stamps across the street if he goes to get a muffin for breakfast and I don’t have to put gas in the car.

    But even for me working outside the home the list when we get home is endless. Laundry, homework, cleaning bathrooms still has to happen and I hate doing it…but hey I do it. And John cuts the grass and vacuums and takes the dog out and we bitch and moan and complain …and then later we’re grateful for most of it.

    I think what you do is very important and that WHO you are is spectacular. Always. XO

      1. Oh yes it does Eli. Andrea is one of my favorite people (and you are too) because she writes about what she truly feels. There’s no BS there, only a place where you can nod and say “wow, I’m so glad it’s not just me”. That is comforting in so many ways.

        Thank you so much for featuring her.

  14. Andrea is the best!
    And I feel so much of this, except that our roles are a little less defined here. As in, I work too much and my husband cleans too much. And yet, he works out of the home a gazillion hours of week, plus travel, and I am with the kids nearly all of the time. Somehow we both manage to do too much and be burnt out.
    And sometimes like Alison, I want to scream into a pillow. With ice cream.

  15. Wait. You keep furry food out of your refrigerator?
    Then you’re a few steps ahead of me.

    Besides that (not negligible) discrepancy, I could have written this blog post myself (just less well, if I’m being honest). My husband shoulders all the responsibility of providing financially for our family, and on the flip-side, I make it so he never has to worry about what’s happening on the home front.

    He’s never been to the kids’ pediatrician, dentist or orthodontist and I have never done our taxes.
    We didn’t start out in our life together so stereotypically divided…and yet. Here it is.
    We are SUCH a stereotype.

    But we are also happy in these roles. And also sometimes desperately frustrated. But still.
    It’s what we signed up for, as your mother so brilliantly points out.

    And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Now. Off to clean out my fridge.
    Probably.

  16. This is SO SO SO important!!!! Invisible. Yep… you so get me. Mind numbing. Yep. I often feel like I’ve dropped about 40 IQ points in becoming a SAHM. I miss getting my hair and nails done and feeling like an actual woman. Sigh.
    Finding meaning in the menial — especially in a world that might find your existence antiquated — has become my life’s mission. It’s a tough job growing futures — but it’s an unmatched privilege too.

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