A Word from the Trenches

The play is the thing. It isn’t. Playing the part is the thing.

It has been a long week. I know that these posts are supposed to be happy. I know that these art blogs are places for remembering the good. But, quoting the wise: You take the good, you take the bad and then you have the facts of life.

Marriage, it seems, is a losing proposition for a number of girlfriends I know. I have been fighting the good fight for a while. It is frustrating. We all hear over and over that marriage is hard work. Unfortunately, everything is hard work and at some point I get tired of hard work.

I work hard doing housework. I work hard fitting all of the pieces of every one’s everything as THE MOM. I work hard at work. I want to talk about working hard at work. So many of us go about our daily routines, fulfilling our duties and it is not a pleasure.

It does not mean it is a burden to work. However, there are burdens at work. I have been thinking a lot about how to explain this in a non-confrontational way. In the great world of social networking we are privy to the information our friends and acquaintances share.

Somewhere in all of this I have realized that my SAHM friends complain about lack of time, overwhelming tasks, and the chores of the house. It struck me yesterday why I bristle from time to time about this: I and many others in my situation do not share all of our work days.

Imagine if I shared the papers I grade and the administration I deal with; I  could go on and on and on. I realize that all of this is uninteresting to everyone. Work stays at work. Perhaps if I explained that we are not living exciting lives of mystery and the world is not clambering for my story it would make more sense.

It is not meant to diminish anyone or anything. It is just a point. I feel that SAHM’s sometimes think that ‘we’ don’t respect them and just for clarification at least 7 different women come to mind.  I think that a better statement would be: I know the working world doesn’t really pay the working mother much mind and maybe we have come to understand that expecting this is unrealistic. In fact, we can jeopardize our means of income by talking about it.

So, I say, not out of frustration or envy, working is work and we do all of the rest of the work too. Perhaps your insights into your days fall on tin ears and this hurts. I would ask that ‘you,’ the many ‘you’s’ in my life sprinkle grains of salt on the reactions you get. Try to remember you are probably not very interested in a lot of my day too.




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5 responses to “A Word from the Trenches

  1. Hey Heather, I don’t know if I’ll be able to leave a long comment or not, as kids are underfoot.

    A couple of things come to mind:
    First, remember your kids are both school aged. It’s different having babies and toddlers home all day. It’s different. They need constant attention, lest they decide to jump from the highest banister onto the landing below. (Just an example.) Apples and oranges.

    Second, you will remember this when you’re home for the summer–household chores rise with correlating hours spent inhabiting the house. If the family is gone for a period of time during the day, the chores don’t increase during that time.

    Third, you are right in that you do more work, juggling work outside the home and inside the home. It’s something I’ll do when I’m teaching again. The household tasks don’t go away. The kids still need tending. But, you don’t have dirty diapers every hour or two. You don’t have a kid nursing and wanting to be held simultaneously while you do EVERYTHING. Not to minimise (sp? I am horrendous) your work load, as I know it is really substantial.

    I think from what I hear from you, the gripe is this: SAHMs seem to get the public sympathy from the culture-at-large. Second, the word choice is thrown araound as if your life now is something you had hand picked and selected with care.

    So, for you, yes, it sucks that there isn’t more corporate sympathy for mothers doing it all. But there are pockets. Working mother magazine?? I haven’t read it, but undersand it has some sympathy in that area. Moms I used to work with would lean on each other and support each other the same way. Teaching is particularly demanding, underpaid, and little respected. It’s a big job to tack onto the job of taking care of things at home.

    Secondly, I know your life hasn’t been hand picked as such. If you could change it, you would. But you can’t. And life is a little bit of a crap-shoot. It’s a little luck with a little choice and there are no guarantees. We don’t know when our luck will fail. We don’t know when things will look up. I feel for you. I know it’s hard.

    Anyway, don’t begrudge the people in your life for this. Just know we support you.

    The toddler just spilled ALL of her cheerios and milk on the table, chair, and carpet. Joy.

    Talk soon,

  2. P.S. I re-read. I don’t get frustrated with you for not caring or not being interested in my day to day. And yes, perhaps, the reverse is true. We lead different lives. But, I think the experience of not having enough time, feeling rushed, is universal. It’s cultural. I would think that we could be unified in that. But if it turns into a competition, common ground is lost.

    • hlawnicki

      I think what is lost in translation here is that I don’t feel rushed or like I don’t have enough time. I stopped even trying to meet those needs years ago.

      WPR is a great example, when they talk about taking time out to ‘reflect’ or ‘savor nature’ or some kind of spiritual thing I try to find something else to listen to or curse Jean Furaka. Maybe in 10 years that will make it onto the list. 🙂

  3. hlawnicki

    Hey there,

    I do absolutely understand what you are saying, I worked when Gabby was a baby too. Older kids are a little less clinging, but trust me, wait for middle school – it is so awesome! 😉

    I will thinks about the housework thing in the summer, scouts honor, and give you my honest opinion. I would also point out that a few of my friends here don’t have babies anymore, their kids are in school…you can imagine.

    As for the rest, Working Mom magazines seem to assume we have high powered executive careers and tell us to “get a housekeeper.” Uh, thanks.

    Working mom friends don’t get together to talk much and that is also a toss up. Some jobs have lots of working moms, but other places don’t.

    Begrudge is a big word. I think I have moved past that. I am not angry at any of the SAHM’s I know.

    The husband is another story! 🙂

    Hugs. (I have to get girly-o to a b-day party)

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