The Two Income Requirement
Have I ever told you I think the whole dual income household thing is bullshit? No? Then I’m telling you now. Requiring two incomes to live is bullshit. Kids. No kids. Bullshit. It’s some great conspiracy we all bought into. That this is ‘the norm’. That two people should of course be employed outside the home. Of course, we should squeeze all the tasks and errands and general living of our real lives into evenings and weekends. Duh. Doesn’t it make sense that I should spend my ‘free time’ picking up clothes from the seamstress (because I don’t have time to sew them) or running to the bank (gotta make it before it closes). Then I’ll spend more money to pick up dinner on the way home, because yep, no time for cooking either.
Bullshit. When did we sign up for this?
I’ve never understood the work day/weekend split. 5 days on, 2 days off for most of us. Not a ratio in my favor. I actively seek opportunities to slide that my way. 4 days on 3 days off? Sure. We can even discuss a pay cut. An extra day of my life back definitely has a tangible value to me. So far my employers, big and small, either don’t get this or they simply can’t accomodate it.
This explains why I don’t get too worked up about The Husband’s shakey employment situation. Not anymore. During The Leap his job lacking, bigger deal. Now, with my Corporate Sponsorship, it’s usually followed by heavy sigh of relief. One of us at home makes for a pleasant-er day to day. Cleaner house, projects happening, happier dogs, shorter weekend to-do lists. The bank account is certainly lighter. Maybe savings don’t grow at the same clip. Lately, I’ve felt like that’s worth it. Maybe even totally worth it. Once again, that easier life comes with a price tag, in the form of The Husband’s income. It’s easy to say ‘Hell no, I don’t want less money!’ with the pound of a fist. But, when I sit back and contemplate what that less money is buying me, then it kinda seems ok. Coming home to a whole lot less chaos, not having to rush around quite as much, it’s swell. It makes the grind of Corporate Servitude easier to swallow.
The rub for me, is a selfish one. A whiney,’but-what-about-me’ concern. As in, why can’t I be the one to stay home? God love The Husband, cuz I sure do. That doesn’t stop me from day dreaming about how much more productive I would be in his stay at home shoes, boots or slippers. To-do lists flow from the tip of my pen with an overwhelming ease. I can survey my kingdom and name any dozen things needing done. No problem. On top of that, I can prioritize the ones that cost no money and brainstorm ways to minimize the impact of the ones that do. The Husband? Well, The Husband is a wonderful, fabulous do-er. He just doesn’t write the agenda with the same vigor.
This is why I take time-off to stay at home. To reconnect with my household. To get shiz done. To live the life I’d like to live, if only for a week. Is staying home for no particular reason a valid choice? I constantly fight feelings of ‘I shouldn’t’. That because I’m without offspring, I’ve no right to call myself a stay at home anything, and I need to get my butt to work. But, how did we get ourselves into this mess? Not to many years ago, a stay at home spouse was the norm, with or without children. Isn’t a more enjoyable existence justification enough. Do both people need to work full time to afford the middle class dream? Does that dream really mean spending all your time away from the home, possessions, and people we work so hard to fund? Or did we perhaps loose sight?
As I enter 30 days of what promises to be workplace hell, a month so busy I risk falling down on the blog job (for the first time ever), I must remember we do this to ourselves. This is the life we chose. Sure, inflation sucks. That American Dream isn’t as easy to afford on one salary anymore, even for those of us lucky enough to still get salaries. But we chose bigger houses and fancier cars, exotic vacations and designer clothes. Or in my case, ethical groceries and too many dogs. Whatever, it all costs money, which costs me time. Some day maybe I can switch spots with The Husband. Maybe we can live a simpler life. Maybe we can trade temporary unemployment I don’t really worry about (ok, still a little) with a permanent position as household manager. When we live a simpler life. A life with more garden and less going. Less ‘to-do’ and more ‘make do’. I got myself into this mess with a lot of little decisions before I even realized what I was doing. Now I’ll get myself out with a lot more little conscious decisions. And I’ll try to be patient. And The Husband will go back to work… just not this week.
How much is more of your time worth to you? Do you have a two income household? Is that by choice or necessity?