There’s much to be said for a support system. I value multi-generational households. Like the song, I need a wife, or at least someone who will take care of me. Maybe not a WIFE, you know, someone I’m married too, as that might require an emotional investment. And unlike the song, another me would not be sufficient, because I’m not capable anymore. Hwell, I’m capable but I don’t have the steam to get done what I want to get done anymore. I want someone to do the work of taking care of me so I can still work to make a living, but my “living income” doesn’t give me enough money to pay for help. My retirement income won’t either. No reason I should expect help to happen from the people who live with me and whom I provide support for. No emotional investment there, whatsoever.
Yes, I’m cranky because I have no support system. The hubster is disabled and, though he’s somewhat functional and mobile, has no idea of what it takes to take care of other people. I won’t deny I think this is some serious passive-aggressive behavior (read: he just doesn’t want to), but I don’t know for sure; since his mother did everything for him and his father, maybe he really doesn’t know how. My efforts to teach him have failed. (BAD teacher).
The son is learning to launch, sloooooowly. He’s mired in the video game world, and doesn’t feel any responsibility to take care of his old mom who provides all his support. Though that’s changing. Mama ain’t the milk cow no more.
My mother loves me dearly, but she is older and can barely do for herself, so no grandma bubbie effect there. I feel like I should be doing for her, but who would provide the support for the two of us? My siblings have their own families to manage. The son can’t support us on his one day a week job.
I can’t afford to pay help, though my brain and every molecule of my cells think I am the Queen of Everything and need to be taken care of. I am on my own.
The word “husband” originally meant “householder” or “housebound” as in house-bonded. The husband was the home owner, the provider of the home and property, and steward of same. “House wife” then was the “keeper of the home” the husband provided. The words husband and wife did not necessarily convey a marital status to each other, but indicated a responsibility to care for the property and by default the other persons on the property.
From ancient times, the division of labor through the centuries has evolved because of physical abilities, the man put up the shelters/buildings (the home, the chicken coop, the ice house, the barn) and maintained them because he could, the woman cooked for him so he could do the heavy work, because she could, which includes doing the heavy work of the garden, laundry, animal and child care, etc. Back in the day women often tucked up their skirts and worked right alongside the man though he rarely entered the woman’s world of homemaking. Historically, women have often had to suck it up and do it all for themselves when they are widowed or abandoned. Our society doesn’t have a great track record of supporting single women in any kind of effective way. One look at the poverty statistics will show how many households are headed by single women.
After I recovered from my broken arm in 2007 and went back to work, I realized I could not work eight hours a day outside the home and come home and put a meal on the table. I did not physically have it in me anymore. I enlisted the hubster to cook the evening meal. With his disability I was thinking if that was the only thing he did all day, that would be a good thing. I don’t really care for production dinners anymore, simple is better. I like a light supper: soup and sandwich, or a chef’s salad, or sauteed chicken breast or a little piece of fish. Not that hard; easy peasy.
He did alright for a while, until I had my diabetes diagnosis and decided I wanted to eat cleaner. He’s fine if he can take some processed food out of the freezer and stick it in the oven, but I want better food choices than that. When I purchase the food I want to eat, he claims he doesn’t know how to cook it. Again I think he just doesn’t want to do it.
I think men, or at least my men, equate food with love. That is, my preparing food for them means love, not them preparing food for me means love. Oh no, that just means they had to do something they didn’t want to do. It doesn’t mean mom will be in a better mood because she is being taken care of in return for providing one hundred percent of the income for the survival of the household.
This attitude extends beyond cooking to housework and yardwork. For my guys the concept of cleaning means doing a few towels in the laundry (not kitchen towels, just bathroom towels), taking the garbage out (after they are told. Can’t you see the trash you threw in bounced back out at you?), and doing the dishes just enough to have a few clean dishes (so we are not talking spotless kitchen ready at any moment for a new food adventure). Toilets, bathtubs, floors, windows, and any other routine cleaning is out of the question. Those are my jobs. You can imagine now, if you will, the wreck of a house I live in. There’s not one corner of my house that doesn’t support the whole bunny not just the dust. At any time the frosting of cat hair on the carpet could be the stuff of fabulous allergies. I really do sweep and wash the kitchen floor at least twice a year. I laugh when I read Martha Stewart’s advice on how to clean a room (start at one corner and work your way around, twice a year). She, of course, can pay a cleaning staff. It would take me a year just to get through one of my rooms, and then I’d have to start all over again.
I’d really like to get rid of some stuff too, some of the stuff I no longer use or need, but in the few minutes my maid personality is here to clean I can barely touch the surface let alone the underneath. Company does not get invited because I consider my home unpresentable. If you are invited to my home I feel you have low enough standards to understand my reality or you’ve know me a really long time and I don’t care anymore.
And boy, I know how to alienate people, being the cranky curmudgeouness I am. All I have to say is how I’m really feeling, and suddenly I’m labeled depressed, mentally ill in some way, or in need of an attitude adjustment. It couldn’t possibly be I’m just overwhelmed by what I have to do to live in this life. I miss the day when families and friends were really family and friends. They took care of each other, did for each other. Or maybe I just haven’t ever created that in my own life.
See? Whiny. Cranky. Curmudgeonly. And I’m so clever I can do it all without f-bombs! I know now if I want alone time and the hubster asks what is wrong, all I have to say is I’m tired. I’m tired of working. I’m tired of being chronically ill and I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of money and I’m tired of money not going far enough. I’m tired of my life. He leaves skid marks getting out of the room. Friends and family don’t want to be around people who talk like this; it’s depressing to hear/read people talk like this. NOBODY knows how effing hard it is to do this life all alone except the ones who do it.
Please don’t remind me the hubster probably is going through “provider guilt” as in the conventional idea the man should provide for the family. He likely does feel that pressure or guilt. Guilt is when you are avoiding responsibility and you should feel guilty. I don’t think he’s avoiding responsibility; he is not able, which is different. What I’m saying is our life is what it is; he’s disabled, I’m chronically ill and still able to work, so just get over it and everybody do what has to be done in the household to take care of the person who supplies the income to provide the household so said person has some time left to give to them.
A favorite woman friend of mine did me a favor one year and I always remember the conversation when I’m struggling like this. I was complaining my life is so HARD just once it would be nice if life was easy. She said I was praying for the wrong thing because life is just never easy. Instead I should pray for strength to handle what life brings. And every day I do, by God, I pray for strength. Yet The Queen of Everything would still like someone to take care of her.