First, I have really been slacking on blogging. My five readers are probably disappointed in me, but I'll do better in the future I promise ;) I've had a lot on my mind, in my heart and been juggling a lot of things. Life, for me, is ever changing. Nothing stays the same and that kind of sucks because I love me some stability. I like everything being as it is and as it will be so I can count on it. Yet, I love changing things up from time to time and when I do, I experience this whole bi-polar thing of being super excited about the change while mourning it simultaneously. Crazy much? I say yes. But in a totally functioning way.
The hardest thing about struggling with something is realizing in the grand scheme of everything, it's a minor problem. Do you ever rationalize yourself out of feeling something because you realize that someone else would LOVE your "problem...?" I do. I beat myself up over feeling certain things and the feedback I get cements that I SHOULD be happy about certain things, and I am, I really am...but even happy things can leave you feeling unsettled. But nice girls don't talk about stuff like that....now do they?
But I'm me, and I talk about everything, regardless of how socially tacky it may be. I figure if I am feeling something, someone out there might be too and to me it's worth the possible embarrassment if my confessions lead to a deeper understanding or at least one person admitting, they too, have been here.
So here's my dilemma. I've been paid, lately, to write. And I like writing. But the second I got paid to do it, I started hating it. Same story, different day. But oh, the agony. I like earning money. I like seeing it add up and saying 'Hey, I earned that!" It's kind of cool. Until I do the math and realize that I made like .02 per hour. Well, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but I do know that kids in huts making soccer balls are making more than me and that's really okay with me. If it empowered me and refreshed me and made me happy, I wouldn't care. I mean, I do a lot of things for free every day. But it's not. I feel a competition within myself to do this much a day, or that much a week. And for what? That's what I couldn't pin down. Why was I doing this?
Internally I struggle with this day after day after day. Somewhere in my brain I've decided money...or a number, determines best what I've contributed, or not, to my family. If my family was in need of things, important things, perhaps this would be different, but the fact is....we just don't. Shoot, we can always use MORE money...I don't know one person who can't, but true need? Nope. Not here. Not anymore.
And that's what's killing me right now. I don't know how to do this thing. I know how to be a penny pincher. I'm good at that. I know how to budget down to the last dime and keep everyone well fed, clothed appropriately and adequately educated/mentally stimulated (and socially acceptable most days) But this idea of having to prioritize luxuries (thank you Kelli for giving me those words, that was EXACTLY what I was trying to say and couldn't get those words to form) is hard for me. But you can't talk about things like that with people. I've heard "Oh I wish I had THOSE problems..." and I get it. Everyone thinks money will fix things and if they had "enough" everything would be all good and great and wonderful but that's not true. It's just not. I heard a saying once "If money can fix it, it's not really a problem." Now, I get that you need money to live and to fix a flat tire and to stock the pantry, but when you really think about the life shattering stuff, money can't touch it. That's what that quote meant and something I totally agree with.
The Bible says we can enjoy what we've worked for. It also says to give. But we did that long before we could "afford" to and we've got that base covered. What I am not comfortable with, at this point, is being left with enough...and more...and deciding what that looks like or what to do with it.
And left with the idea that there really is nothing I could do that's more valuable to my family than being The Mom. I fought this and fought this and fought this. Then, this past weekend, I picked up an old book I have on my shelf called The Happiness File It's a book by the ladies that inspired the Fly Lady (back before I was born!!) and I got slapped in the face. I'll paraphrase this, but basically it said "If you're only working to purchase a specific item...a new couch, a vacation, etc, etc...you're doing it for materialistic reasons." Now, if you read this and you work because you have to, don't get your panties in a bunch over this. This isn't about that. It was just saying if you have small children, do whatever you can to be home with them, to be their nurturer. It wasn't downing working moms at all, just calling out those who are working for the wrong reasons.
I was sufficiently humbled. I had to say to myself "Holy crap. Me. Melissa. Materialistic." Yup. I guess I am because anything I've earned has bought SOMETHING. (Shut up. Yes, I bought yarn among other things) Oh this stung. It STINGS. And I hate it. I don't know what to do with it.
My husband has always encouraged me to do whatever I want to do. He is especially focused on me nurturing my creative spirit. The only thing he has ever had a problem with was my trying to earn money with it. Because he's a mean, controlling ogre? Well, let me share his thoughts with you and you can decide. He has said things like:
"We're a team. This isn't MY paycheck, it's ours. My career is just as much about you as it is me..."
"If you want to do this to earn money you can, but at the end of the day, you need something that's JUST FOR YOU, and not anyone or anything else, and I would like you to consider doing it for that alone..."
Or, "You need to take a break. Nothing you HAVE to do, only something you WANT to do..."
But everything I have ever read about being a chick and being a wise wife and taking care of a family suggests that as the woman of the house, I should be contributing and don't even get me started on what she-man-women-man-haters think of the concept of a stay at home mom leaning (and thriving) on the salary of her MAN. (To all you I say..remember I totally burned my bra, so pffftttt.)
Everything I love to do...I can do all I want, but the second I try to cash in on it I start to hate it, resent it and avoid it. The hubster says to selfishly claim it as my own and find refreshment in all that I love to do...that my contribution to my family is being a Mom. A good one.
And the messed up part is, if someone handed me a paycheck at the end of the week for doing it, I'd feel more valuable. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's ever felt this way, and definitely not the last. And I feel guilty for some odd reason that I love this life I have and somehow feel like I should be suffering and "working" so as to have value. Why is that?