Question #26: Sara struggles with identifying her role as a wife, mom, career woman and author. She juggles a lot of titles and tries to make sense of how they all work together. Have you ever struggled with titles you or someone else has put on you? How did it affect you?
Wow. Who among is has NOT struggled with one or all of the above at some time in our life? I just got done reading an article about women and free time....which we don't have much of..... and even in the "modern" world with women working and finally some of them making equal salaries to men, we are still going a majority or all of the household chores and child rearing. More women are on anti-depressants and/or anti-anxiety meds than ever before. Yeah, we're struggling.
For me, I've only really had to struggle with being a career woman and wife. No one acknowledges that I am a mother...ok so they are dogs, but think about it for a second. It is like I have two perpetual toddlers. I will always have to take them to the bathroom. I will always have to check their poo to see if they are sick. I will always have to take them for their exercise, I can't send them out to play alone or over to a neighbor's house for a sleepover. Grama doesn't want them for a week in the summer. I will always have to fix their meals, they can't pop something in the microwave or get something out of the fridge. Like an infant, they can't tell me how they feel or if they are in pain, I have to guess from their behaviour. No matter WHAT we have tried, the little one will always sleep with us every night eventually creeping up between us and then turning sideways. My kids have to get shots every year for the rest of their lives. My kids won't learn to take medicine without complaining, I will always have to trick them into it. My kids will definitely die before me and break my heart. Don't get me wrong, I know very well that human children can be a lot more work and a lot more expensive...a lot my heartache and a lot more joy. I was a stepmother for a season. But you can't deny the similarities for someone who treats their dogs as if they were real children. I also hope I made you laugh a little!
Anyway, with my health, I struggled very hard with my career and my role as a wife and "mom". If I did my job to the best of my ability, I did not have much time or energy left over for my family. But I still had to somehow clean the house, pay the bills, run the errands, do the laundry, and cook meals. As you know if you've been following very long, I just couldn't do it all. And I decided that my family was more important than my career. I had been told something by one of my bosses when I would get upset if my staff didn't do something and it made me look bad. He said that there is only so much I can do, that worrying about it and ruining my health wasn't worth it and if I should happen to die in a car wreck on my way home, my office would still be running in the morning. It would not shut down, it would continue on somehow, just like it was running before I ever came along. It took me a few times of hearing that before it finally sunk in for me that my job was just not that important to me any more. You might look at that as a reminder not to take too much personally and just do the best that you can and be happy to leave it behind when you go home. I wish you could have seen the look on his face when I resigned and told him that he helped me to do it with his story. You could see his wheels turning, "I'll be sure not to say that again." It was kind of funny!
So I have heard from some people who say the husband should step up and do more. You might even look at my list of chores and think the same thing, part of me did sometimes. But then I have to remember what he does besides work all day and a lot of time bring work home and keep at it. He mows the lawn, an acre by push mower. He does the weed eating, cleans the gutters, trims trees and bushes, and fertilizes and plants grass seed, which for some reason we have had to do every year. We don't have trash pick up, so he takes the garbage out and to the dump. He fixes most everything around the house, and when he comes home, he takes over with the last two rounds of playing with the kids and their bathroom breaks. He vacuums the stairs for me 'cause that kills me, and he bathes the kids. When I cook he usually cleans the yucky pots and pans...ok sometimes I have to redo them, but he gets the worst off for me. And as for the list of stuff that I do, well, plain and simply, I do those things better so why shouldn't I do them? I'm the main cook, so I should get the groceries because I know what works and if they don't have it what would be a good substitution. He is not as organized as I am, so I do a better job of paying the bills and keeping neat records. I am also more meticulous about the small things than he is, so when I clean the house it is just cleaner than when he has tried to.
At the same time, he is much better at the things he does. The smell of that stuff in the gutters literally makes me lose my lunch, and if I try to mow the lawn, or even go outside right after it is done, I will have an asthma attack. Same smell thing goes for the garbage that has been sitting outside in a closed bin for a week before going to the dump, plus I have a hard time lifting it over the edge of the bed of the truck.
My suggestion to anyone is find out what works for you as a couple. Each pair is different. Maybe your husband can actually fold a shirt without looking like a 4 year old did it. Maybe your husband is a better cook than you. Maybe you are better at mowing the lawn, and he's much better with budgeting the money. I don't believe in any set rules about our titles or what we should be doing. My husband and I have been working on this for years, and we are almost perfectly balanced. Some days I will have flared up with my FM or arthritis and he will have to do more, and then some days he will have had a bad day or long week and I'll do some of the things that he would have done and I'll tell him to watch some TV. If you love each other and communicate well, it will eventually all fall into place. But if we play the blame game, or go on strike because we do more work than they do, or something just as silly, it's not going to work.
Sit down with your husband and have this conversation if you are feeling overwhelmed. Maybe your talk will have you taking something off of HIS plate. Just remember, it's whatever works for you as a couple. It won't happen over night, but like I said, with the right amount of communication, neither one of you should feel overwhelmed with your roles. It's worth a shot!
Until Next Time.....