The Work Is Love
0 comment Wednesday, September 24, 2014 |
I find myself being exceedingly domestic these days: cleaning with marigolds and spraybottles filled with vinegar and bleach; cooking meals from scratch and buying everything in cash; bills in plastic bags with appropriate money to pay out at the local post; rummaging the charity shops for clothes I can take down, take in, hem up, alter to suit and generally be happy with; making cakes regularly, half to freeze, half to savour; making soap - even though it's catching in popularity, it still takes time and effort to make and sell; darning socks - who darns socks these days?; embroidery and cross-stitch and a bunch of stuff I thought was old-folks work or for biddies who sit about chattering about Big Brother or Eastenders and their favourite gossip magazines.
There was a time I hated this sort of thing; chores were just that. Cleaning sucked because it was all just going to get dirty again, and no matter how much I did, it was always pointed out what I didn't get to. It was all a drag and a drudge and was completely unappreciated.
After the hols, when I was exhausted from all the work I'd done and stressed and the snowdays made everything worse, I had a bit of an epiphany. I can't entirely say what it was, because I don't really think it came through in words. It was more a feeling; here was my life, and it was up to me to do something with it. At the same time, I realised that damn near killing myself to try to achieve anything was also a lose/lose situation. My perception shifted. So far, it seems to be working.
I've had to rethink a lot of different things, and re-assess things which in the modern day we consider vital, but are really just conveniences. I work better with money when I can see it in my hand, not when it's on a screen, and so I withdraw everything I get but for the business-funds and pay in cash. I stockpile, and I use up everything I can. I clean, and I've made my peace with the fact I'll have to do it all again next week. I bake, I cook from scratch, and I limit my supermarket convenience shopping. I take it easier on myself - if I have to rest, I rest, and if I can't do it, and KNOW I can't do it that day, I just don't.
Most of all, I no longer feel the need to apologise for this approach. I am a single parent, living primarily on maintenance, tax credits and DLA. I suppose I am, according to society's consensus, Part of the Problem. But anyone who doesn't think being a SAHM of a special needs child isn't work probably hasn't tried to do it. Not a day goes by that I'm not getting a call from the school about a new issue, or there's a note in his book about something that happened which I have to talk to him about. Every day, I have to remind my son to stop running round in his room and get dressed - he forgets what he went up there for, I have to remind him not to play so that he will remember to eat, I watch a video with him and talk about it (or try to get him to stop talking and just watch it), I call specialists and discuss exactly what needs to happen at a visit - the dentist soon, and I'll be paying �50 to a private dentist just so that sprog can run around in the room and play with the equipment, they won't get a chance to do anything else. He is a job - just because he is my son and I adore him doesn't mean it isn't work.
There was a time I felt apologetic for not having a "real" job; there was pressure from several avenues in this regard, and I was held up to the statue-on-a-pedestal of Women Who Had Come Before Me who were able to hold a full time job and keep the house spotless at the same time. I am not that Other Woman/Mum/Gran, I am me. I do what I can when I have the energy, and I enjoy it too. If I can't do it, I don't - and working a full time job is beyond me, and has been for years. If I want to have the energy and focus to care for my child, I have to centre upon that and everything else is a bonus.
So I'll stay at home, and be domestic, and channel my gran. I'll wear clothes out of fashion, and grow flowers and veg, and bake bread and cakes. I'll sew and clean a room a day, and plan for a pantry and a freezer for even more food Just In Case. I'll make pancakes for my son and pack his homemade lunches, I'll pay for things in exact change, take my change jar in for my son's savings, and put a little away for emergencies. I scrub, and I rinse, and I polish and I dust.
A friend of mine who lives a similar life says it is Work...but the Work is Love.