Fiction writing vs. blogging.

I have the usual obstacles of a mother of young children regarding writing at length, but I also have the difficulty of deciding whether to focus on fiction or continue poking around with nonfiction blog posts.

It’s a tough one, because I can’t put up the fiction as I go, nor can I really discuss it, since I may be working under pen names beyond the current one.  But I write fiction a lot faster than a blog post.  In the time I’m writing this, I could have just about done 500 words of fiction.  (About 10 minutes, btw.)

But on the other other hand, I’ve learned so many interesting things about modern American history and education, and some of them are helpful with the fiction.  It’s a dilemma.

 

I must sing my joy

T.W.O. works hard to provide a roof and food for us, for our livestock and poultry, and for our household employees.  He even finds the time to lift big and post gains, when not indulging in other bagatelles.

I often feel frustrated, but it’s only because I have to complete the progression from planning 36 hours per day of work to planning merely ten.

I write about problems online because I have the resources, support and love to talk about them and occasionally make it to discussing possible solutions and strategies for coping when solutions aren’t possible or feasible.

I do what women have always done when they have that privilege.  And I rejoice in the fact that I get to be one of those women when my ancestors (of both Nordic and Negro sides, quiet as that’s kept) were often the women providing the means for other women to do so.

Saying farewell to full time childcare while being a SAHM

T.W.O. is always saying I should be more open and raw on muh blawg, so here goes.

The combination of number of kids, the ages they are, their physical and mental vigor and quirks, and the fact that I do stay home with them have all led to our household reaching a point where the effort involved finding the type of full time nanny/babysitter that is ok with it all is more stressful and disruptive than simply giving up things like cooking in favor of going with part-timers, private school and deli food.  We had a good run, had some very kind and caring people over the years, but we’ve reached the limit of how useful it can be to us in a part of the country where being a housewife isn’t really viewed as having its own purpose.

I come from the South, and there being a housewife comes with expectations that make it reasonable to do something like have full time childcare if that’s what it takes to meet the expectations.  Many do not, but people don’t really freak out if you do because it’s assumed you must have that lady there to help you meet the expectations of hospitality and visiting and decoration that come with housewiving there, especially at the higher household income brackets.  Where we are now, the expectation is that the housewife is solely full time childcare.  This is the reason for the 20 dollar a day SAHMs around here.  They literally don’t know what else to do but watch kids, so they just keep chugging and the money is pretty much a token sum charged because people would be weirded out by them pleading to watch kids for free (although sometimes they offer, and now I understand why).

We basically didn’t have to confront this issue until recently because the people we got stayed for decent lengths of time.  But recently we had to put feelers out and the hassle was just so epic compared to previous hiring go-rounds that we’re done this time around.  Granted I will still have part-timers, but part-timers don’t sweat me being home precisely because they are part-time.  It could be a lot worse, we’re not making the change because of inability to pay, and I still have part-time childcare from nice teenagers readily available.  I just had hopes of  starting “pure” homeschooling soon, but that’s just not possible.  There is no homeschool community here, the private school options we’re going with are closer to the “one room school” model that we think is best for our children, and me providing more complex instruction down the road is always an option as the kids age.

We’ve all been pretty sick the last couple weeks, so I have more anxiety about the whole thing than is really warranted.  The kids are very capable at very young ages and we can do this without everything falling apart.  At least, that’s the hope.

 

 

My kids make me laugh an average of an hour a day

It may not sound like much, spending about 60 minutes of every day laughing aloud specifically due to stuff the kids do, but it seemed like a lot to me when I realized just how much time I spend laughing at their tiny person antics.

I wonder if it will be twice as much when they’re teenagers.  Only time will tell.

Real Talk for SAHMs, Honest DITL edition

A Day in the Life, or DITL, is a cutesy internet phenomenon where people post the events of their day in timestamped fashion, often illustrated with pictures.  It is very common in the parts of the internets where “mommies” blog.

This has been sitting in the hopper for about a year because I keep trying to do one and fail, as I’m still so sleep deprived I can’t keep track of my day well enough to list it out with timestamps.

I spent most of this year pregnant, and the rest breastfeeding a mighty warrior.  And that also wears me out.  Breastfeeding can really yank the old calories out of a mother, and I haven’t got them to spare these days.

Today is a good day, I am not going back to bed for a good hour after being up all night with a, well, mighty warrior.  Usually I am back to bed by now and make up for some of the sleep I don’t get at night by doing so during the day.

That’s my life when I’m less than six months postpartum–up every hour or two at night and sleeping a large fraction of the day.  If I have the strength and energy, I get a little cooking or housework done before the sitter leaves, or maybe something more complicated like bills/budget/admin.  Once the sitter goes home, a good evening is either me or T.W.O. cooking while the other wrangles the littles, or taking the whole brood out on the town by getting some groceries.  Yes, our wild nights on the town are buying milk and carrots at 7pm.

This isn’t a very good DITL, sorry.  But I don’t do much postpartum until at least six months after the birth.  When I only had one infant, I just lived like an infant, eating and sleeping mostly the same times the baby did.  T.W.O. and sous vide did all the food prep so I didn’t starve that first six months.  And with that infant it was closer to nine because I seem to grow them mighty and warrorish when I’m not also growing them in pairs.

I am going to do some agrarian lifestyle stuff, and/or get Christmas presents out, and then sleep until 4pm, when it gets dark.  And then the cooking/wrangling combo until bedtime for the oldest kids, and then my day in the life ends with me staying up with the newest addition to our family, as I can’t sleep when the waking is more frequent than every two hours, which is the current deal.

So there’s my day in the life right now.  I’ll try this again in a few months.

The girls who get thrown away

Though it seems inconceivable to many men, there are sometimes women who simply aren’t expected to marry and yet ultimately do.  One of the reasons “nice girls” or “Christian girls” or “nice Christian girls” have a hard time getting married is that some of them were thrown away by their subculture.  They were never expected to marry.  The reasons are usually not related to sexual practice, for such women aren’t even really thought of as possessing a real sexual impulse.  They are considered freemartins, girl-shaped but essentially sexless and only valuable for the services and/or money they can provide to their immediate family or local community.

It’s interesting to me that so many refuse to accept the reality before them of mostly celibate single women working at modest jobs, giving much of the money to family members directly and often also volunteering tons of unpaid labor at church/school/etc.  They are tossed aside and not taken seriously except as mere labor/resources.

It’s hard for such women to marry, especially since they often never really learn that they were thrown away, or find it out too late to respond.  Yet, some do, and then the difficulty of social interaction with people who are weirdly offended at such women not being totally available anymore becomes a straining point in the marriage.  Not a fatal one, but still quite real.

On the other hand, since such women are given no useful advice on catching a husband, they recognize that it is quite obviously God’s will if they do happen to marry and are correspondingly most excellent wife material.  So their marriages can handle the social stresses that come when their labor is desired but no longer available for exploitation.

250k isn’t enough, or why not even other right wing women want my SAHM lifestyle.

This is a breakdown of exactly how expensive it is to live substituting money for the network of support common to healthy patriarchal societies.  In this example, I show where 250k in gross household income per year would go in attempting to provide enough support with cash instead of neighbors and relatives to get a SAHM with several children through the under-5 years with closely spaced pregnancies and breastfeeding.

25k– tithe

35k– modest PITI (Principal, Interest, property Taxes, homeowner’s Insurance) of 1.5-2x income after 20% down, not before

50k– household services (sitter or nanny, weekend/backup sitter, house cleaning 2-4x per month)

15k– food (local, often organic, directly purchased from farmers wherever possible, fair trade and single-source where not local).

50k– federal income and social insurance taxes (approximate, tax treatment varies wildly from state to state)

10k– gas, commute and auto maintenance expenses (not including car insurance)

5k– car insurance, life insurance, disability insurance

15k– reserve or expenses for home maintenance and improvements

10k– utilities (internet/cell, electric, water, sewer or septic maintenance, garbage, any other common utilities)

15k– HSA/health insurance/health care (annualized estimate)

20k– savings/float/reserve against unexpected/anything I missed

This totals to exactly 250k per year, and there things I missed.  And even with this much money substituting for human relationships and assistance, women at this level of household income who SAHM still face plenty of sleep deprivation and exhaustion and none of these expenses make up for the lack of other women and their children in groups to hang out with while going through household routines.

This is my life*, and nobody wants it.  And nobody wants to admit it takes this kind of money to even come close to setting up a private household with a SAHM in something resembling a traditional way.  Despite the full time help wrangling my very active children and the friendly couple that clean weekly, I’m still exhausted and have trouble gaining/maintaining weight when I need it for pregnancies and breastfeeding.  And I always feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of household work to do that isn’t the canonical cooking and cleaning and childcare because I don’t do a lot of that day to day and *there’s still a lot of other housework to do*.

But I am not envied by other SAHMs because they think any childcare that isn’t mom 24/7/365 is “leaving your children to be raised by wolves, er, I mean other women”.  And having a house cleaner deep clean is just showing how I fail housewiving 4eva by not being organized enough to clean perfectly around squalling toddlers flinging rice in every direction because mommy’s ignoring them (sorry, lovingly caring for them in a way utterly superior in all possible ways to any relative or paid provider’s child minding) to scour the sink just right.

I am not envied by working mothers because holding any wage job outside the home (no matter how low-paying) and putting the kids into daycare at 6 weeks old (or more commonly, paying some SAHM whose household income is closer to 25k/yr 20-40 bucks a day under the table for childcare) means they are financial contributors to their household and I am not, so I am to be pitied and despised for being such a drain on my husband with my very existence.

And that’s the right-wing, conservative Christian side of the aisle.

*The exact household income and expense list in this example isn’t our literal personal one as our household is more agrarian in orientation, but there are some broad similarities.