On work.

I’m up far too early… Today little John came at 5:25am, and my poor nursling is still in bed with a cough. Thank goodness she has a warm Papa to snuggle with. I always find myself back here. The sun hasn’t yet come up, I’m working on far too little sleep, I yearn for the warmth of my family all around me, but I am totally content. Perhaps it’s the pleasure I take in a warm cup of coffee, or any warm mug against my too cold hands in the morning. Maybe it’s the cute little boy playing with his favorite toy and babbling at my feet. Maybe it’s the mood that the early morning takes- so quiet and still, reminding me to slow down.

Lately I’ve been thinking about work. What it means, what it used to mean to me, what I’d like it to mean in the future. I remember after I had Vera I was stuck in this strange place where it felt so hard to stay home. I had been working since I was 15, so to not get up and go do this concrete job was an adjustment. I felt stir-crazy and a little directionless. At the same time, however, I felt tired and like work never ceased. I had to truly learn what I already knew- that taking care of a baby is hard work. And yet, because I wasn’t bringing home a paycheck or always getting the dishes done I felt somehow like I wasn’t doing enough. I can’t tell you how many times I had to bounce this off of Jeff.
"How is it that I haven’t done anything today? I don’t know why I can’t seem to get ANYTHING done?!" He’d just roll his eyes and say "You HAVE done something today, you’ve taken care of the baby and done this and that and…"
Soon I really got it, and I addressed my own snobbery against "non-working" people, specifically mothers. I realized that it was a question of what was valued rather than what I had accomplished. In my situation, I wasn’t earning any money, and I was doing purely what needed to be done in order to keep things running, not something that took my special skills or education. I had no idea I even thought that way, but in a society that revolves around work and consumerism- well, of course money and prestige is important. It was so strange to address this issue in myself. I had CHOSEN to be home with my baby, it didn’t feel like a sacrifice. I really felt it was best for me and my family. And yet, imbedded deep beneath the surface lay the truth, or some aspect of it.
Anyway, so there I was, having to re-learn what work really meant to me. I had to realize ways in which the feminist movement had hurt the cause- by teaching women that money mattered, and that they could do anything men could do- thereby giving women many new opportunities and rights. However, it also served to reinforce the idea that women’s work was trivial and valueless and that working outside the home was where true accomplishment and respect lay.
Now I am proud of the work that I do. Aside from the immense joy I get from supporting my beautiful daughter- I’ve also gained many new skills. I’ve been freed from the idea that I have to get a college degree, and now I have realized what I really want to learn and do. I have no idea how much time and money that has probably saved me. Plus, I’m truly happy where I am, doing what I’m doing. I cook, I clean, I do laundry. I also am creative, I experiment, I research, I learn. While I may not make money, I certainly can save it. We can actually buy a house on one small income, and I believe that my ability to be thrifty and resourceful has something to do with that.

It’s now a day later and I sort of lost my motivation. I guess my main point was that I’m working to blur the lines between work and play. I’ve always loved this quote (of course it’s from the book The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. Basically I love everything about that book.)

"Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy."

Actually, the whole thing is just amazing, and not too long of a read: Go here.

So anyway, it might not seem that profound, but it’s been on my mind and it opened up a lot of possibility for my life. No more waiting to do what I want- living what I want always and never dragging my feet. Working with love and loving to work and yeah. It just seemed like a beautiful idea that I’d like to make a reality.

Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (9)

  1. afistinthefrill

    i love this! i’ve been dealing with a lot of similar thoughts lately; with jessie being the sole income while i finish up my last semester of college, i’ve felt stir-crazy and wrought with guilt about not having a job while he works full-time, and he just keeps telling me, “get used to it now. i don’t mind supporting us, i like supporting us, and we decided this is how it will be when we have babies to raise.” so i’m trying to adjust to contributing in a different way by keeping house instead of bringing home a paycheck, and it definitely is hard to transition, after having to work and support myself since i was 16. i think i’ll be a lot more okay with it once we DO have babies, who will keep me significantly more busy than i am now.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Yes! Well, let me know how retraining your mind goes- I think it’s important to reclaim this work as valuable! It’s awesome we have such supportive partners!

      Reply
  2. unicorntapestry

    Real work

    And then there’s that one friend of yours who, every time you apologized for not doing enough stuff, would pull out her journal and read the long list of things you had done that day…

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Re: Real work

      Aw I love you! Hopefully next time I’ll be the one saying “Look at how much we did today!!”

      Reply
  3. pithy_epigrams

    Part of the reason I’m holding off on having children is because I’m aware of the amount of work, and I am not ready for it. SOOOO much work. You are responsible for another human life. Loving, feeding, cleaning, nurturing, teaching, providing for, and much more. PLUS you have all of the rest of your life to attend to outside of being a mother. Jeesh. I know I couldn’t do it.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      True. Although, I have to admit that’s part of why I’m so grateful for it now. Being responsible for her life leaves little (er, at least less…) room for my own bullshit. It’s actually kind of a relief. So, while initially it felt like a really big adjustment, in the end I realize ways in which I’m just a better person that can handle this work more and more easily.
      I do think it’s good that you know it’s not something you want right now. But I always have to crack a smile when I hear that because I thought that I didn’t either, at least not right then. In the end I didn’t have to, she taught me everything I needed to know, and stretched me this way and that so that I could do it. So I guess the work that I do for her just doesn’t feel like work so much anymore, just life.

      Reply
      1. Gracie (Post author)

        I just re-read that and I think it sounds condescending. I didn’t mean it that way. I crack a smile because I remember feeling that way, but not because I think I “know better” or anything. That’s just in the context of my own life. I’m really grateful that we are smart women who can choose what we want to do in our lives, and I think you’re just great. We all have our own unique paths. I wish I got to read more about yours!

        Reply
  4. 93_millionmiles

    You have the most important job there is and from what I can tell, you’re doing great. It felt strange to me a little at first not having a “real job” but I’ve been so busy that now it just feels right. It isn’t that I’m not working anymore, I’m just doing things for myself and my family rather than a tiny bit of money doing something that means less to me for someone else. Every once in a while, I get tiny pangs of worry/guilt over what others might think of me, especially since I don’t even have kids yet, but I try to remind myself that I’m finally doing what I want so if they’re not happy for me then they’ll probably never understand my plans for life anyway and there’s not much I can do about that.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Yay! I love that we’re friends.

      Reply

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