I’ve always hated not working. I always seem to fall into some sort of boredom depression. I think it’s why I try to take on so much, so much of the time. If I’m not doing more, then what use am I? How much am I worth if I let my own time be wasted and offer nothing to anyone? You know? I started working when I could, at 15 or so. After school, I walked the half mile or so to work, did one 5 or 6 hour shift, and got a ride home. This continued through high school. And through college. I don’t think my parents really ever pressured me to work, but I do think, my first job was more of a “hey, you want a nice car? start working and saving up money” sort of deal— well okay pops, no problem. In college, there was no pressure for me to work. My parents expected me to learn, and nothing else, but a week into my freshman year , I walked into the cutest candy/gelato shop, and was offered a job. Every weekend and a few days a week, I would get to sit at a counter, eating all the candy I wanted, studying, watching movies on my laptop and whatever else, making 15$ bucks an hour. Sold. After college, I went in and out of bouts of depression, and now, looking back, it was almost always correlated with how much I was working or how much free time I had. There was a few month period where I had nothing. I lived in a shitty place, working little to none, watching the hours go slowly go by, and I was miserable. The less I worked, the sadder I became. The sadder I became, the more difficult it grew to step outside and change the circle I created. I moved to Florida, rented out an apartment from my dad and started working for him. I love my dad, but his business, was not for me, and within a week, I found myself another job. I worked a lot, but I enjoyed it. Not long after, I made the move to Miami. I wanted to go back to school, I wanted to study nutrition. I worked, conveniently enough, managing a health food store, for a few months. The living situation Laura and I (we moved down together, to both go back to school, with a few other people) were living in went from bad to worse. She left. I stayed until I could bear no more. It seemed that in a period of two weeks, I lost more than I wanted to lose, and was left with very little: no job, no proper housing situation, and really, not any close friends in Miami. My stubbornness, my denial to my situational boredom sadness, and whatever else, (there are so many gaps in between this story) held me off for a very long time, but finally it came to a point, where I broke down, and asked my family, for the first time in year and years, for support again. In no time at all, my dad came down, drove up and down the different towns, and found my the tiniest, quaint, and (omg) purple (I despise purple) apartment— and when I say “apartment“, I mean a bed, and a Marlowe sized stove and shower— pretty much the perfect size for me and dirty jerry. (It was small place, attached to a home of an elderly couple. The gave me permission to use their backyard, and I did. And came out of the place basically creating a tiny tomato farm for them.) I was back in school, living alone, and no amount of pride or stubbornness, could change the fact that my dad was helping me again. I got pregnant here, in this situation. In school, with a boyfriend of one or two years or so, in a mostly okay, but sometimes miserable state of mind. I finished off my semester and moved back to West Palm. I tried to get a few jobs, but to no ones surprise, the job market is not booming for a pregnant girl. My parents made it very clear, that they would support me through anything. When I cried of guilt and resentment to my mom, she told me, some people have partners to help pay their bills, to give them emotional and physical support, and help love and raise their children, and just because I didn’t, didn’t mean that I or Marlowe would have miss out on anything or suffer. They would offer what they could give, because my happiness, and their future granddaughters, is what matters. And I stayed home. I did what they wanted me to do– what I was so lucky to be given, a chance to raise my daughter—to be with my newborn– to raise her the way she deserved to be raised, just like she would in a better family situation. Just because I didn’t have the mother-father/husband-wife support to offer, didn’t mean there would need to be worries of daycare and juggling everything by myself— not yet, not right away, not when I needed it the most. Alex came and left. Within the week, I found a job. From the outside, maybe a slightly ridiculous job, but from the inside, a really well paying (I left some days making easily 24+ bucks an hour), flexible job, that gave me a tremendous opportunity to spend a few hours of still-lighted outdoor sunshine with my daughter. I busted ass doing everything. Working, raising my daughter, putting healthy full meals on the (coffee) table, keeping my house beautiful, sewing on the side, blogging every night, and having one night a week— completely to myself when Marlowe was with Alex. It was a perfect, crazy, but welcomed balance.
Here I am again. In a new (less expensive, and more amazing) space, and working from home. Except now, Alex is here, really here. Physically, no, not so much. His job hasn’t changed from last time– he still works 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, so this keeping up with everything around here thing, its still very much my gig and my responsibility. If I’m being completely honest, part of me still resented the fact that a career outside of the house for me, isn’t at all an easy option, with the career path he chose. When I ask for time and help, I can’t have it. I gave up fighting that battle, because its not worth it. A time will come where I will have more time to myself, when she will be grown up, and I can chase those dreams, but for now, I have to be okay with this working/not working/career dynamic we have in this household. And not just okay, but I have (had) to find a way to make it work for everyone. And I have. And I have options. But now, for the first time… (EVER?) I think I’m going to choose the road with more acceptance, less self pressure, and more indulgent self satisfaction. I’ve had a few great opportunities come up, some I sadly (or so very sadly) turned down. And this current opportunity in front of me, while it might be a great one, I think I’m turning it down too. I’m going to take a moment, and feel okay, satisfied, and happy in the fact that I can take advantage of this shared space. The pressure I put on myself, it’s lessoned. It’s less challenging with two incomes and shared responsibility. I feel no shame in being able to say it’s easier, and I’m going to enjoy it.
Patience is not my strong suite, but luckily for me, stubbornness can get me very far. This is something I learned, when I was 7 months pregnant, carrying a crib mattress, on my chest, across Babies R Us, up to the cashier, out the door, and loading it into my car, by myself. I thought, well crap, maybe my arms can hold more weight than I thought. If I can do this, I’ll assume I can do anything. (That’s a safe assumption, right?)
I grew tired of waiting for season to end, for Alex to be around more, for help in the backyard. I called my dad and asked him to please drop off yard tools. The next afternoon, Marlowe and I went outside, and I ripped out our dead or dying trees like I never thought I would or could by myself. After a few hours, covered in dirt, sun, and sweat, I stepped back, looked at the work I had just finished– the piles and piles of trees that once lined my fence, now laying on the ground, and I felt an incredibly immense sense of pride and accomplishment. I did that. By myself. That felt good. The next day, Marlowe and I went out again, and I began ripping at the roots I missed, grabbing piles of leaves, branches, and dirt and moving them across the yard. As I pulled out weeds, I showed Marlowe bugs, centipedes, snails, and snakes, and she protected them from Jerry. I cleared the space. I stepped back, and again, it felt good. I had done something good for my home, for my daughter, and for mental and physical self. Instant gratification.
So now, finally, for the first time, I’m okay with not taking every extra option in front of me to bring extra income to this table, because at this very moment, I don’t need to, because what I’m offering is enough. And instead, I want to put that extra time into my kid, my family, and this home. Of course, not forever, ohhh, certainly not forever, because the stay-at-home mom life is just too hard for me— requiring a completely different kind of strength—and realistically, probably not even for very long at all, but at least for a little while… because at this moment, the work and satisfaction it brings to make our shared space beautiful, is worth it.
I’m crossing my fingers for nice weather tomorrow, because tomorrow, that stack of branches needs to be pulled out from the back, to the front, and onto the curb… and we know, those branches aren’t going to move themselves— and well, I love Marlowe, but let’s keep it real: getting tough and dirty? She’s a bit too small and girly for that.
**please note that in every single picture, Marlowe has a different pair of shoes. She demanded an outfit change every 20 minutes, because her clothes were dirty.