You Can Do It - Just Realise It Won'T Be Easy
0 comment Sunday, June 29, 2014 |
Rosie the Riveter; major American icon during WW2 as women joined production lines as all the men were off to war. As a welder, I loved this image of a strong she-woman (very unusual for the US) who dressed like a man and flexed her muscles. Women did a lot of men's work during that time period, and proved they were quite capable of it; machine lines, baseball leagues, pilot runs, on and on. It's how I envision what things must have been like during the Crusades era - anyone who thinks the women of the castle just sat about doing embroidery must be trippin'.
What history doesn't talk about is what happened when the men came home...
Once the men came back from the war, most women who had had their first taste of life outside the home were told they weren't needed anymore. Back to the house, back to childrearing and being satisfied with that. The baseball leagues were dissolved, the pilot licenses revoked, the jobs were gone. Is it any wonder that the Valium Era for "nervous women" followed afterwards? A deep satisfaction was now gone, and these women were forced back into their traditional roles.
The point of this post is not to rant against such a mode, or even to force the image of Supermum who can do anything. Indeed, I'm sure we all know now how stylised Supermum is - and Rosie too. Gritty, sure, tough, you bet. But the thing people forget is how HARD it must have been for the Rosies of the world in many countries (yes, even Germany). It's easy to talk about "Gran was a gunner during the war" but we can't possibly know what it was like; how frightening it was, how close starvation was - when children had never seen bananas or oranges and didn't know how to eat them. How the frell a single mum managed to get up at 5am, do a shift till 7pm, never see her children, never have the energy to play with them or cook dinner. There's nothing to idealise here. It was plain survival. You do what you do because you have to - and it may be exceedingly difficult.
My garden is well on its way - and I'm discovering that people seem to think I've just won the lotto and therefore have a tonne of money to spend on the project; and the green worm of jealousy is beginning to twist in their brains. How dare I talk about making ends meet when I can waste money on a garden? Who do I think I am, getting all this money handed to me when other people have to work for a living? How can I possibly have spare money to do things with when I don't even have a job? And so on...thanks to the BNP canvassing this area rather heavily (at night, always at night - FFS the only people who ever did their "political canvassing" at night in the US was the KKK, so no-bloody-thank-you) there's a lot of muttering against "us". Not that that's anything new; the easy solution to blaming problems of the world is to find a single parent and point.
Here's the thing: I do not own a car. I do not have a television license because we don't watch telly. I do not go out weekly for dinner, or order in. I do not buy new clothes anymore. My son tends to buy his own toys with money he earns. I stopped smoking ages ago. I make food from scratch. Those things to me are luxuries; they're throw-away convenience items which other people for some reason feel they cannot live without. There's a difference between "can't" and "can't be arsed to try" however, and I know it. And that is how I can live on the pittance of funding I actually get without living in a council house. If I didn't, I couldn't do it, plain and simple. My money goes into renting a semi-detached house rather than live in a Council flat. That's what I chose to be important, and that's what I saved up to be able to do.
I had to petition a charity and a volunteer group to help with the garden, and this came after months of searching and being turned down, and I think only happened due to D making herself available to discuss why this was so bloody important. That I got this all "free" is somehow worse - and again people seem to have forgotten that the reason I'm working to heavily on my home is because I am looking toward the future where me being able to leave it might prove to be difficult. The only lottery I've won is the Universal Die which decided I would have a disabled child. Honestly, I would have rather won that one a bit differently, and no amount of gardening is going to change that.
I'm not doing anything revolutionary. A packet of seeds doesn't exactly cost a whole lot. What I have managed to do is change my perception. I stopped waiting till we had bought a house, had a car, could buy this item or that item, and just decided to make do with what I have right now. I took a good hard look at what I felt was necessary to my life, and if it proved not to be necessary at all, I removed it. No smoking, no eating out, no new clothes, no convenience food. My son has never had McD's, doesn't know what soda is. His great treat in town is six cheese straws, which costs me all of a pound, and he often buys them himself. I make my own beer, food, bread and now ice cream. I grow produce to help keep the bills down. All this allows me to be able to live on the amount of money which, in total, is less than my ex pays in taxes per year.
Is it easy? Hell no. It's exhausting sometimes, physically and emotionally. Rejection after rejection for garden works from disabled children's charities without a single explanation WHY garden works wasn't covered really did my head in. Every six weeks I'm on child duty when work has to come to a screeching halt; and I'm even beginning to reassess my hours in a more realistic way since I'm finding that I'm getting exhausted more easily these days. There are events I'd like to go to, parties my friends hold which I want to attend, but I can't; buying drinks, cab fare, all that stuff adds up and I simply cannot afford it. I have made my choice on what my spare money is to be spent on; turning this wreck of a rental house into a proper home for my son with paint, DIY, charity, muscle and bloodyminded determination.
It may not be easy, but it isn't unobtainable either, if you really want it.
And so, if I could manage to get it through the heads of the people who mutter and glare and turn a bit green, it would be this: you can do what you desire most as well if you're just willing to lose a few of those luxuries. There's no such thing as can't. You CAN do it, just don't expect it to be easy and happen in a flash. Go through the steps to quit smoking. Don't rely on your car all the time. Find ways to curb, to cut back, to save up. All the time spent grumbling about someone else takes away from you finding ways to live your life to the full, and achieves nothing. Find a way.
Then do it.