I’ve been busy working for money.
Not like all those Mommy bloggers who are really just justifying that they don’t work outside the home. So anxious to dispel your ideas and reassure themselves because they don’t really “own” their perfectly fine decisions. (Mr. Fresh’s very prejudicial take, not mine. Not really.)
Sometimes I wonder if I ever “own” anything about myself. There’s a thread, smooth with years of friction, pulling through my mind constantly to catch a “good excuse.” That maybe wants to fail people. That wants my potential to always still be true, to be outstanding, so that I never have to cash the check of my spectacular gifts.
Never to get to the bank and find out they’re tin, or fake, maybe not even good fakes.
It was fun to say: sort of glamorous. And a good excuse: "I wish I could help you with that, but I am overwhelmed with paying work." Sometimes I wonder if, as post-70s-feminists, we've become romantics about work.
They called me a talented child, but no one knew what to do with me. I was head and shoulders above the other kids. Schoolwork was easy and occasionally, rarely, fun, but a good way to please people. I learned not to study, not to work, not to try. I could do things with one hand tied behind my back.
Dispelling the panic of my last few months at a (very) liberal (very) arts(y) college, I spieled, “I just have to figure out how to get paid for sitting around nursing a beer and talking about ideas. You know, a café intellectual. Anyone have any alumni contacts in that field?”
(Mommy blogging might be a pretty good fit, actually.)
The real world, when I finally entered it, was interested in neither head, nor shoulders, nor folks in half-upper-bondage. They didn't want to buy great ideas OR rent out people who were smarter than everyone else. Can you imagine?! I worked at “other things.” [Insert stories about “coping,” “money,” the beauty of compromising by living in the real world.]
Early this year I started “not working” for the first time since age 14. Then this freelance job showed up. In some ways, it was an ideal gig, work from home, flexible hours, using my talents, in a field I have a sense of mission toward. And in the past few weeks, as the work heated up, as they fell in love with me, and as I started to accept that I might have a job as a creative, someone with room for eccentricity and Oh God the hair, I was having fun. Some fun. I enjoyed being productive. Dressing up before breakfast.
I even tried to tame the mane, at a further disadvantage because many products are still in boxes somewhere.
I loved the idea of having “clients.” Doesn’t that sound romantic? At least, if you don’t perform Brazilian waxing? (Why do they call it that? It sounds more like “waning” than “waxing” to me).
But it was the worst possible timing. Mr. Fresh’s new job means he has no flex to cover for me on weekdays and is trashed on weekends. We moved. Shortie started kindergarten. The firm started to want me at lots of meetings. The client, who has rather sharp teeth (but who I like enormously), needs a lot of handholding. I was too busy, not fun busy, and losing sleep and still with the persistent cough.
Mr. Fresh and I did the math and figured out that, after travel and band aids, as a household we might clear $6/hour. I can be a fucking artist for that. Instead of kissing butt and driving all over the state with no road signs for the client whose address is listed wrong on their own web site.
This morning, when I quit, I felt like an enabler dumping an alcoholic. Maybe that’s a good sign… that I’ve broken a tie, recognized something that’s not right for me now, and stuck to my guns.
Maybe it’s the first step in housewifely entropy.
Maybe there are about a hundred other ways to make money and improve the world waiting on my “desk” (dining room table and a bunch of boxes) right now.
Maybe life is meant to be easy, and work a playground for my talents.
Maybe the client will develop some boundaries and call me back.
Maybe I’m playing games and just won a hand.
I thought I might want to pull a late-stage, last-ditch widow card: "I'm sorry, while I watched my husband die, I swore I'd never do anything un-fun again."
But that wasn't it. The romance is gone. There's no intrinsic value in work and no shame in being a stay-at-home Mom. Sorry, Mom, I'm over it. At least for now.
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