Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Mom’s Salary

(written several years ago and salvaged from my computer for your reading pleasure).

SoulCollage Card

This week in the Social Studies section of the Globe & Mail I read a fascinating statistic: the average stay-at-home mom in the U.S. could be earning the same salary as a top advertising executive or a judge, according to $134,121. Her real work includes the earning power of ten jobs: housekeeper, daycare teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry worker, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, chief executive and psychologist.

Well, I’ve discussed that kind of salary with my husband, and it just isn’t in the budget. But it certainly made me feel better to know my actual financial worth. Now I know why I don't have time to go back to 'work'. It got me thinking about multi-tasking, and how that word doesn’t describe doing more than one thing at a time anymore, since I’ve turned fifty and can’t split my brain in five directions, but it still applies to the multi-job description of M.O.M.

Yesterday I was walking the dog around the block (they forgot that in the list of job descriptions) when I saw one of those corporate housewives at work in her garden. A nanny rushed out, portable phone in one hand. The woman gardening pulled off one earthy glove, and the chief executive took over, giving instructions and making decisions. I bet there are thousands of housewives in suburbia managing small armies of staff (usually part-time or on contract) to help us manage our little domains. For instance, on Monday, the Sears repairman was here cleaning out and hosing down the Heat Pump, while two more blue-clad technicians were vacuuming the air ducts and furnace; the man from Val Morin Pools was pumping stagnant water from the in-ground pool and a gardening specialist was spraying my bushes with dormant oil. I was rushing from backyard to basement to the front door, signing cheques and keeping the puppy out of their way.

Spring is here and my list of household projects has taken on a new ‘ampleur’. I put on my facilities manager’s hat from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. when I don the chauffeur’s cap to pick up two girls from after school dance class, then switch to the chef’s hat for meal preparation time, and retire after supper to an outside activity, choir rehearsal, and coaching session with singing and choreography, accapella style. Home at 10ish, my army sergeant voice booms out – all lights out now! After a quick toothbrush swiped over my teeth and a brief flossing (I am my own dental assistant), I turn down the covers and remove all the hats to entertain a short dialogue with my hubby (co-producer, co-author, co-manager and major salary provider) before succumbing to deep sleep (oh yes, there was also a brief interlude as child-psychologist after school with fifteen-year-old who is itching to go downtown and check out the club scene and has girls tattooing hearts on his arm at school. We need to hire a road hockey coach or enroll him in basketball for the summer: intense physical activity needed to ward off spring fever.

As I lie there, the birthday party planner kicks in: Kaye’s fourteenth birthday in two weeks and I’ll be away at choir competition. Must help her poor Dad plan for an afternoon pool party for 10 adolescent girls, evening sleepover for four ‘best friends,’ and next day drop them off at Bazoo for a pillow-making party. Tomorrow morning, must not forget the personal trainer will arrive (actually a close personal friend of mine who charges very low rates) to prod me into shape with a big ball and five pound weights attached to my arms…then I’m going shopping for leather furniture and a desk for the new home office I plan to create, to entice hubby to work from home within five years. Then he can really call himself co-manager. Soon he’ll be wearing ten hats, just like me. Then maybe I can retire.

Yep, now that I’ve run through all the jobs on my to-do list, I can sleep. Just wish there was somewhere to punch in and pick up that paycheque…. My hat's off to all you chief executive moms out there

So next Mother's Day, you can insist they give the Chief Executive a day off.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Right to Write

I am stepping into a new relationship with my writing . After my lovely retreat in Paris, where my writing coach gave me some deep questions to ponder, I decided I love working in my quiet room with the window on the lake, but I need to make some changes. My writing arm and mouse hand/shoulder have been acting up for two years now, and it was time to get a new computer and move my work into the office with a good desk, chair and ergonomic set-up. Done. Check.

I needed to make a writing schedule I could stick to, that still leaves room for laundry, meals and exercise. Since this Monday, I have been giving myself two hours a morning to read/write/journal  and explore my various projects that have been simmering on the back burner – a long poem series on Georgia O’Keeffe, some stories and poems about my father, and a whole lot of other stories that need reworking.

Like the Russian dolls my son gave me in Paris, I have many layers inside of me, many talents and things I love to do. It’s hard for me to stick to just one thing. But I’m going to give this writing thing a good fighting chance. Reading The Right to Write by Julia Cameron, recommended to me by Karen Ely, is helping me understand that writing is also about listening. Listening in, letting the soul be called by the specific things in this world, the red-wing blackbird bobbing on a maple branch, the smell of the peonies on my kitchen table, the ouch of a stubbed toe on a metal chair leg.  Letting my inner ear hear, and transcribing what transpires.
Anyway here is what came out of my workbook about my new focus:

No to dizzy spinning busy-making craziness
Yes to Calm Center

Yes to my work space inviolate and Boundaries around writing time

Yes to Exploring relationship buildilng, developing new ways of being together and alone
Yes to long distance mothering and having faith in their ability to function without my intervention

Yes to allowing my energy and concern to be on my work, primariily

No to the habit of pleasing others first
Yes to solid “I” centered focus

No to being the little wifey
Yes to sharing creative energies andprojects with like-minded artists

No to letting all consuming volunteer projects online overwhelm me

Some items on this list scare me, and feel a tad selfish. I guess that’s a sign that I have a ways to go to value my own work, worth enough to make time for it and commit.
I’ll be writing the blog less frequently this summer, but you can join me on Facebook anytime, on either Musemother’s page or The Tao of turning Fifty page.

Enjoy the good weather – it’s bound to turn up soon!