If I haven’t mentioned this before it is a fabulous book. One for all women to go out and purchase a copy, read it then lend it to their husbands and then pass it on as a legacy to their daughters. So far I have only borrowed mine from a library, but when funds permit, the book will be mine!
I was thinking about it today as I helped put up adverts for the Christmas Fayre on Saturday, for the PTA. I was alongside a very interesting woman, who in a past life, as she put it, had worked in film promotions for 20th century fox. According to her what she used to do wasn’t very glamorous, but I stopped believing her when she mentioned doing work for Tom Cruise! Name dropping aside, the job she had been in carried more money, glamour, status and interest than what she did now – book-keeping for a family relative, but had to be given up when she had children!
Why? Why is it always us women who make the career sacrifices if we don’t want our children to be in childcare more than they are with family? Why can’t we all agree that Mum can be off a year to breastfeed baby (if she is breastfeeding for a year, if not shorten this time accordingly) and then maybe Mum and Dad work 4 days so children are only in childcare for 3?
Why is it that so often Dad goes back to work full-time and continues to grow his career, salary and status, whilst Mum drops to 3 days and is barely noticed in what she does any more, essentially plugging the gaps that those more important in the workplace don’t wish to fill!
Like the book says, I am going to lean in when I find something I want to do, and regarding Little Lady I shall teach her all of this from the outset so that she doesn’t get blindsided and bored to tears like so many of her female elders have!
I dream of living in a clutter free household with everything within it being beautiful or useful. Perhaps very occasionally even sentimental, but certainly all surfaces would be clear and as I surveyed any room it’s appearance would make me feel tranquil.
Right now of course, I could not be further from such a state of affairs. As I look around the room I see shoes, the contents of a changing bag, sheets of paper and various bags strewn across the floor. That is before we get to what is on the furniture, or so help me, what lies within our cupboards! Especially my pet hate, clothes, shoes and toys that the children have grown out of!
What to do? Give them away to charity or sell them because I need the money? Have I really got the time to list them on Ebay though and will it be financially worthwhile for me to do, assuming that said items sell at all?
This was the gist of a conversation with a school run Gran as I walked to work the other day, as she had highlighted a pile of clothes that her grandchildren had grown out of to their mother. What had she done with all of the clothes that her children grew out of when they were younger, I asked, to which she had the following very interesting reply:
- When her children were little there were few high street shops to buy children’s clothes and shoes from, such as Ladybird and Clarks and said items were not cheap so you bought fewer of them.
- People didn’t have access to computers like we do today so their was no selling of items on Ebay, you just passed quality items onto a friend with a younger child of the same sex as yours. In the same way, other friends passed things on to you.
- Often furniture e.g. cots, prams and other higher ticket items were passed through families, bought as gifts or could be picked up cheaply from an advert in the local shop window or newspaper.
I am never one to think that those of the past had it better or easier, after all, I wasn’t there, but that is not to say that there isn’t still an awful lot we can take as lessons from the past to make our own lives simpler and easier. I may still Ebay a couple of high end items, but the clothes purchased will be fewer in number and, when finished with, will be passed on to friends!
At least once a week I go through our accounts as a family. Ideally to check what has been paid and what remains outstanding. For the last few years though it has been to check that we are not overdrawn! How can it be that we only in the middle of the month and already I am borrowing from the children?
As sad as I felt doing the accounts, it was doing the weekly shop – having borrowed said money from the children – that almost reduced me to tears. A not insignificant budget was overspent by 17 pounds. I realise that 17 pounds doesn’t seem much, but if you were to see what the shopping budget that I had was and the state that our accounts are in, you would be on the verge of tears too.
I came home and told the Other Half that that things were going to have to change. In future we needed to bake bread and biscuits, make soup and popcorn and cut down things like orange juice to once a day. I also said that we would all be on the same cereal, bought in the family size, rather than the 4 different varieties we all eat at the moment.
Brave words, but my heart started to sink even as the words left my mouth. To be honest food is one of the few joys that we still have – a social life together seeming to have gone out the window once we had children!
Yes I am going to start trying to make certain things, starting with tomato soup and scaling down the volume of what I buy, bearing in mind that each purchase now is around 1 pound. Primarily though I am shopping online next week. Not only will I not espy all the items I would usually throw into the trolley without further thought, but hopefully I won’t miss them either. And as my total bill amounts to a few pounds under budget I shall smile and reward myself with a well deserved chocolate bar, thereby hitting my limit!
Just please don’t let there be any substitutions!
Let’s not beat about the bush here! I want 3 children but the Other Half wants to stick at 2. On paper it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but the reality is that he is asking me to give up on my dream. In all fairness maybe I am asking him to give up on his, but I am the one programmed to have children. I am the one whose heart says ‘more’ even though there are 101 reasons for my head to say ‘enough’, just like his does. Maybe, possibly, eventually, my head will rule over my heart, but for now I am far from coming to terms with the idea that little man and little lady are it! That thought just makes me mad or sad in equal measures. Until I see another baby that is. Then I just become hopeful again.
I am fortunate that I have the hope, the possibility that Other Half may yet change his mind. In Dolly Parton’s book, children just didn’t happen for her and her husband. Period. The wonderful work that she has gone on to do on behalf of so many children across the world has been amazing and I am in no doubt that the relationships formed with those children will have helped her to make peace with not having had her own.
One friend of mine had 5 miscarriages, but went on to have 5 children. Another friend of mine had 7 miscarriages and has since adopted 3 children. A third friend of mine has a child with special needs. As she says, she didn’t expect them to go to university, get married or have children necessarily, but she did expect them to be able to talk. But as she also says, you make your peace with it!
I am beginning to realise, peace isn’t about external circumstances or conditions placed upon you, it is about you accepting what is. Just accepting what it is. No more fighting, wishing or praying for it to be different. Not even hoping for it to be different. Just calling it what it is and getting on with it.
It’s a choice too. Something you decide to do from within. Judging from the experiences of my friends, it is a restful and tranquil place to be. Over this issue though, I am not ready to be there yet!
I AM LOVING THIS BOOK! Not because it’s working wonders for my marriage. Probably completely the opposite! And yes Dear, I know you will be reading this! Steal yourself and resolve to stay married beyond the end of the book and then read it from cover to cover. I am only a few chapters in, but my, have a good few things been explained to me already! Like why I turned into Mrs Mop the second I got a ring on my finger. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry and yes I am ashamed to say putting away other half’s underwear into his chest of drawers! This despite the fact that we both worked full time back then. According to Susan Maushart this is perfectly normal behaviour. For herself included and she knew far better than I did!
The following are some of my wake up calls so far:
- that marriage will absolutely make a difference to your relationship and that some of it will be negative
- that the list of wifework listed on p.10 would make me both laugh and cry, not necessarily in healthy proportions
- that there are 3 types of marriage – His, Hers and The Children’s and that the better Her marriage experience is the worse it will be for the other 2 types of marriage involved
- that in my zeal to show I can do anything, it will often feel as though I do everything
- and that the second we had children our marriage stopped being a date!
Did I mention that I am still on chapter 1?
Really though, as much as I love being married and adore being a mother, there was a me too. Reading this book is helping the ‘me’ now and the ‘me’ back then to get re-acquainted.
Love ya hon! Especially because YOU are going to read the book next!