raisintoast – 2008-06-03 2:27 PM
Sometimes, I choose to do housework over writing because I want to be the best mom and wife I can be, and I don’t want to live in a garbage dump. However, I really want to write instead of doing those things. So I wrestle with guilt – either I should be writing if I’m cleaning, and let my standards and the house go a bit, or I should be cleaning if I’m writing. I put off writing to do many things I think I SHOULD (cleaning is just one example), and at the end of the day, I often haven’t written as much as I said I would. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to write. It’s a luxury.
Melissa, our situations are very different, but I empathize strongly with your dilemma. Many of us were cursed with a version of the Protestant Work Ethic that mandates we do the things we SHOULD instead of the things we WANT and that loads us down with guilt no matter which choice we make.
I have a full-time job as a college professor that often requires I put in 9-hour days at school. I love my job, and at this point I could “coast” to a certain degree, but if I weren’t giving my best to the job, I couldn’t live with myself. In addition, I do some of the housework–laundry (hate it), garbage, unloading the dishwasher, clearing up after meals, paying bills, keeping track of finances, etc.
So when do I get the chance to write? Well, after work and dinner I sit down at the keyboard and see if I can bat out 1000 words. And any other chance I get, I do the same. I also get 3 months off during the summer, which I can devote to writing.
But….there are things I don’t do. I hire out the lawn-mowing and other house-upkeep chores. I don’t spend hours working in a garden, painting the house, trimming bushes and trees, etc. Like you, I need to live in a clean house–in fact, I’m a bit of a neat freak about it. But other than day to day upkeep, I’ll pay others to do these things. We also hire a cleaning woman who comes in every other week.
I guess my point is that beyond a certain point, we do have choices. We can do everything ourselves around the house or we can hire out certain things. I used to have a colleague who was obsessive about his house and grounds–he did everything himself. As a result, he never published anything. Actually, he never wanted to publish anything, so he used his housework as an excuse. Then he used to gripe because he never got the high merit increases he thought he deserved. Well, colleges don’t give professors merit increases for cleaning the gutters and trimming the ivy.
If you’re a first-time mom, you may not be able to afford to hire out aspects of the housework, but as soon as you can, I would consider it. We do have to make writing a priority, and if we let everything else come first, then we’ll get very little written. It’s all too easy to fill all our time with other things. And in my opinion, paying someone to help with the housework is a much better investment than paying a writing coach.
Not sure if this helps, but what you wrote struck a resonant chord, so I thought I’d put in my two cents.