More Bon-Bons Please.

Fine, Matt. This is posted because you told me to.

I am about to tell you something really gross that’s going to make you puke, so get the bucket.

I don’t have to work at all if I don’t want to.

(Go ahead. Heave away. I’ll wait while you blow your nose.)

Back? Feeling better? Let me help.

Yes, it’s true. Colin makes a decent salary, and we have some help too around the house. So even though I am officially the “CEO” of our house (which is work to be sure), there are definitely days I could lay on my bed from 9 to 4 and that wouldn’t majorly impact the course of life in our home.

However, who wants a life like that?

Do you? OK, maybe you want a day or two like that, but all the time

No, trust me, you don’t.

Did you know that working makes you feel valuable? I do. I know that because ever since I got married (NOTE: this has NOTHING to do with Colin. Anyone who knows him knows this) and I haven’t been required to be the primary wage earner, my own sense of personal value has changed.

Before: I worked two jobs to support myself. If I wanted ANYTHING, I worked and then I earned enough money to pay for it.

After: I chose to focus on writing, to work for “life” and to see where that takes me. I make a bit of money, bring in “extra cash” for us. Enough to buy “little extras” and to pay the babysitter. By and large, we live within the means of our combined incomes: that is to say, within the means of what Colin earns.

This is like a brick to the head. Work makes people feel valuable, but not just work: it’s the paycheck, too. And it’s not just the paycheck, as those on unemployment benefits will tell you. It’s the combination of the two.

Also, with the kids (and even before them) I do LOTS of work around the house in my role as “CEO” of the family. But I don’t get a paycheck for it. I’m not complaining, by the way. Colin’s paycheck covers everything we need and want and that is something we share. However, our nanny helps with many of the same tasks around our house — organizing kids schedules. dishes, playdates, helping with homework, laundry, cleaning up, etc. — yet at the end of each two weeks, that work is affirmed, with a piece of paper that can be exchanged for money.

Some work done without compensation feels empty. At least if it is done over and over again. And this is true, even if people are grateful. I find it is nice to hear the thanks, but at the end it doesn’t matter so much if you are paid in kindness.

Show me the money.

Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 

  4 comments for “More Bon-Bons Please.

  1. M.A. Brotherton
    May 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    No kidding.

    I hate taking vacation from work unless I absolutely have to for something big. Normally I burn up a couple of days through out the year and sell the rest back. I can’t stand to sit at home all day. Even with all the housework, you still have way too much down time.

    I think that might be one of those “Midwestern Values” things I hear politicians talk about all the time, though.

    • May 29, 2011 at 5:27 am

      Thanks Matt. I agree. Work and identity are so interconnected. That gets sort of messed up in the head when we become parents.

  2. June 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    This is a topic that’s been stewing in my mind for quite a bit. I’m in the same boat as you, and for the months I wasn’t working, I had words like: “worthless” and “wasted” rolling around in my head, made worse by the fact that I’m an awful housekeeper (who likes housework?!) and also have no children to help explain my unemployment. Sure, I’ve taken a job as a substitute and a tutor and those are making their small contributions, but it’s tough tough tough to not feel subpar when once I was a force in the workforce. I’m navigating this sea right now….it’s unsettling….and I feel guilty for being in it.

    • June 6, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      Boy… I think we might be the same person. So weird.

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