Breaking the rules

I’ve been thinking a lot about rules lately, and I’ve been breaking more than a few. Sadly, even some of what I write as a blogger breaks some of the rules of my marriage. Last week, I read this article by Molly Crababble on money and success. She contends that to accomplish anything above and beyond the marriage-big-house-two-and-a-half-kids pipe dream, women have to break the rules. I agree.

In her article, Molly Crabapple talks about how artists in particular have to transgress established norms. Artistic success, she says, depends on “doing the ambitious work everyone said you weren’t ready for, then getting mocked and rejected for it, until, slowly, the wall began to crack. You could never do what you were supposed to, never stay quietly in your place.”

I’ve mentioned this before, but if you’re new around here, one of my reasons for blogging is that I want to return to work. I want to work as a writer, and I want to write creatively. My plan is to start with writing about myself and move on to separate characters. I find myself in a unique position: well-educated, with some decent experience on my resume, and with several years away from the workforce to raise my kids. Not to mention that I have a certain level of financial freedom.

Since I stopped working full-time when my daughter was born, my husband’s opinion has been that it doesn’t pay for me to work. Truthfully, by the time we pay for childcare and our ridiculously high tax bracket, there would be very little money left to make my efforts worthwhile. This is the “official” reason that I stay at home full-time. It doesn’t include my strong desire to be at home with my kids when they are little, to start them off with a strong emotional attachment. It doesn’t begin to cover all the fun that we’ve had together over the past seven years, and it certainly ignores all the skills that I’ve learned as a mom.

Stepping out of the workforce has given me clarity about the pros and cons of paid employment and what I really want out of a job. I want to do what I love. It’s a sacrifice to hand over part of your life to a manager. I’d love to have the freedom to write as I like, indefinitely, without any consideration of pay. But I think that’s impractical. And honestly, I think it will serve my marriage well for me to once again receive a regular paycheck.

So here I am, on the cusp of changing nearly everything about the daily structure of my life, of my kids’ lives, of Geoff’s life. I want to savor this time as I transition from full-time to part-time mom. But I’m constantly reminded how much I have come to expect of myself in this unpaid role. It’s nothing short of perfection. I am used to filling my days with taking care of my family’s needs, with making their lives special and fun. I do love that job, with all my heart. But I just can’t do it all anymore. And to change, I need to break the rules.

To write this blog, which I hope to craft into a portfolio, I need time away from my kids. Rule #1 broken. I need to hire a sitter during the day, which means spending money. Rule #2 broken. I need to make time to do what’s important to me, and I need to do it before I take care of anyone else. Rule #3 broken. This is unfamiliar territory, and I only know that to succeed, I have to make up new rules as I go. Do you think it’s easy to make up new rules? Does it sound like fun? Maybe. But it’s also hard, like running uphill. Sometimes a nice life, with enough money, a loving husband, and three cute kids, can act like a trap.

I’m going for the impossible here: I want to have the family and a job that I love. Do any of you have an axe I can borrow?

3 thoughts on “Breaking the rules

  1. I hear you. Good luck. I stay at home and homeschool. I also aspire to write. I write more bloggy stuff than writer stuff and think I need to change the balance there. If I went back to work I would be afraid the time I would lose would be my creative time. But that’s OK cause I’m not doing that! I hope you have a lot of fun on your new adventure!

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