I have been reminded on several occasions the last 2 months that I don’t “do” anything. From my darling husband complaining endlessly that I am on the internet doing nothing, but surfing, I won’t share the secret that I have been actually working on a novel, and am a little over 140 pages into said novel. My mother-in-law made it abundantly clear to me on several occasions that I didn’t do anything to help my husband get where he is in life, and that I will eventually one day ruin his career, because of any number of reasons (from my boneheaded stubbornness, to my opinionated rants, or it could even be my fighting endlessly for the needs of my son). Now, my daughter has joined the act, stating that all I do is run, and play on the computer. It’s heartbreaking to me that everyone seems to have this low opinion of what I do during my time.
I have to remind myself nearly every day that I am doing something of value. First, most of my time online has been spent writing. Whether it be on this blog, AMFAS, or writing short articles for other publications to build a portfolio. You see, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (in other words a small college in Duluth, MN), I was told I was good a writer. I love to write, and that’s what I spend the vast majority of my time doing, but because I don’t make any money doing what I love doing, there is no measure of success. The most I have ever been paid for writing is $200, and it is a pittance compared to the number of hours I spend researching and writing for the publications I have written. Over 20 pieces of my written word have been circulating throughout the Internet at any given time. But because the only thing I have to prove that I am doing something worthwhile is my name in the byline of a publication, and that’s it, I am doing nothing of value, or “playing” on the internet.
That’s not to mention the fact I have two school-aged children, one that has significant needs that merit my time and attention. I have a ten-year-old with a significant case of autism, and an 8-year-old, who is now being tested for giftedness. It appears I have an endless array of appointments that occupy the times I am not writing aka playing on the internet, or doing my other passion (training for marathons). According to many, this is not a value-added activity. There is no paycheck, and I cannot quantitatively account for the time I spend taking my children various places to meet their various and differing needs. It would appear that since I am just a stay at home mom to two older children that are in school 90% of their waking moments, that I should somehow be more productive.
I have running, which takes a significant amount of time. I spend an ordinate amount of time planning my runs, and planning subsequent strategies in case my runs don’t go as originally planned. During the summer months, due to heat, thunderstorms, and a child at home, most of my runs are mind-numbing experiences on the treadmill. And of course to my various detractors there is absolutely no value added in running. It doesn’t matter that it is my happiness, my sanity, and my release. I don’t make any money, I don’t substantively contribute to the betterment of anyone other than myself, therefore it is an activity that is meaningless and folly.
The remainder of my day is spent improving our living quarters. Whether it be by cleaning up after Hurricane Ryan and Hurricane Sophie, which leave a destructive path every where they go, or doing mindless projects throughout the house in a vain attempt at keeping it in some fashion clean and able to entertain the masses at a moments notice. So the 2 hours of my time between running, appointments, standing on my head entertaining a bored 8-year-old, and managing a increasingly busy schedule of a special needs 10-year-old is spent trying to portray my household in a sane manner.
Sadly, throughout the years I think back to what I have missed out on, while doing all the things that others see little to no value in doing. I don’t have much of a social life outside of running and seeing parents at my son’s school. Any social life I do have either involves military spouse sanctioned socializing, walking into my son’s school praying I don’t smell from my workout (or lack of a shower before a workout), or any appointments I may have at the base clinic, speech therapy, or violin lessons. I feel like no one values me as a person. Rather I am valued as someone that should get stuff done. If I don’t get something done, I suffer for it. I get berated by an irritated husband for cleaning every square inch of the house, yet forgetting the fridge for a few weeks (the few weeks I have been at home only a spare couple of hours). I get berated by an irritated mother-in-law for not scrubbing the rust stains out of the bathroom before I have company, because in the grand scheme of things rust stains were the lowest thing on my growing list of priorities. I get berated by an irritated mother for not putting her grandchildren first and foremost. Then I feel like no matter what I do it is not good enough to satisfy the masses. I feel like mothers cannot have it all.
I get no credit for what I have sacrificed. I sacrificed my career, even though most people would argue that I hated serving in the military. There were aspects that I hated (namely a few supervisors and a chief master sergeant who shall forever remain nameless), but I miss it. I miss my friends (especially Vern, may she rest in peace, who always had a smile, and would always make me laugh, especially when it came to her recommendations for callsigns– everyone’s an asshole). I even miss shop talking and being in the know. I get tired of being “just the wife.” I sacrificed my education. I could have gone back to school and gotten my master’s degree with my GI bill, but I blew it. I didn’t use it, because I didn’t have the time to use it when all my focus was on trying to get the most out of my son. I sacrificed his development for the betterment of my husband’s career. I feel like many times I failed him, because I didn’t push hard enough, or I didn’t fight long enough for what was right. I sacrificed control. I have no control over my future. I gave up a lot of what is me, for the ego of one person. I feel devalued most of the time. I feel like I need to worship at the alter of my husband, but no one worships me, or feeds my ego. All I am told is that for the last 17 years I have done nothing, and will continue to do nothing of value.