With all of this talk about hiring freezes and pay freezes, and let’s not forget the freezing temperatures here lately, it’s enough to drive a woman mad. I just read an article in the paper this morning about how so many companies are implementing pay freezes and quite frankly, I am already there.
I can’t tell you the last time I had a pay raise. When you work for a small, struggling business, pay raises are sometimes just wishful thinking. Then there is the separate issue of merely getting paid, on time, with regularity.
I suppose a normal person would have hit the bricks a long time ago.
My husband thinks I’m insane, and maybe I am, but for someone in the position I’m in, I’ve sort of sucked it up and gone on as best I can. In this economy, in this market, with the job skills and experience I have, the job pool is very, very shallow. So I am employed, I’m just not making any money.
I realize that if it were not for my husband having a relatively good job, one with benefits, I wouldn’t be able to do this. I’d have to really suck it up big time and get myself a 40-hour-a-week corporate job, and having had one of those, that does not fill me with pleasant feelings.
I already know from this current experience that I would not make it as a stay-at-home mom. Having had to rely more or less solely on my husband’s income for the past couple of months has put me in a sort of funk. While I’ve always had to watch pennies, the fact that I’m not adding any sheckles to the common pot right now is making me feel pretty useless. Sure, I’ve had to learn to live on less, and that’s not really the point. It’s the feeling that I don’t have any right to a say in how the finances are distributed, beyond the basics of food, shelter, and comfort.
I know that this is mostly in my own head, because my husband is not one to lord his breadwinner status over me. But it points up a very telling fact about me: I enjoy being on more of a level playing field, money-wise. It’s a larger part of my identity than I realized. When I bring in my own money, I don’t feel guilty about occasional splurges or feel like I need to ask permission. That’s a real 1950’s attitude, that whole having to ask permission to spend money thing. But it’s there in my brain somewhere, barely alive but there, and likely put there by my own parents, who came of age in the 1950’s and have some pretty traditional ideas about men and women.
I’ve never wanted to be a taker, or taken care of. I’ve always wanted to pull my own weight, as much as I can. The rationalizer would say that I do that just on the basis of the things I do around the house, the parenting that is a lot of times solo. And I don’t suppose it’s fair for me to assume that these things I do to keep our lives running smoothly are of less value because they don’t have a paycheck attached to them, but at the core of it, that’s how I feel.
As difficult as it is to be a modern woman, to feel the tug of the work-life balance, it seems to be more so in a difficult economy.
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