What that actually means for me
I have a family, so eh…
I state this, but in almost the same manner as someone sending radio signals to distant stars hoping for a response from another life form. Especially during the holidays when people across the globe are embracing their loved ones and basking in the community of their siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. Most people conjure up warm, blanketing feelings of embrace and security. I suppose they are not wrong to do so, but at the same time I fail to convey the message with this simple phrase.
Some days, I want to take photos of my household. I want people to understand the extent of work that goes into ‘I have a family’. Those mornings where I can’t even make coffee because the kitchen sink is full of dishes. So is every square inch of the counter. The range not only adorned with grungy pots and pans, some full of solidified grease or leftover boiling liquid, but often heavily coated in sauce or oil from last night’s dinner. That’s only the beginning. There’s the dishwasher that needs to be emptied loaded or started, the dinner table to clear and wipe down, plants to water and shuffle around to share the precious little sunlight, laundry to pick up and wash, floors to sweep and mop, porcelain to scrub, drains to unclog, trim to re-adhere after the kids pick and peel it off the wall, disgusting smells emanating from sources that require even more cleaning to discover, bodily fluids to clean up after…
It’s not like there’s a magical dirt fairy that flies in, swishes a little wand and poof! all our soiled undies and burger grease is gone. That’s my time. Three hours every morning of my time. It’s like a fucking part time job just keeping up with the basics, all for a hug and kiss.
Then there’s the more extensive things. Grocery shopping, deep cleaning things like heaters, fixing the espresso machine when the frothing nozzle clogs, fixing the kids toys when they break them, fixing the truck when it goes down. Providing solutions to the more challenging aspects of life is always appreciated, yet it’s still not like I’m getting a paycheck for it.
I have a family to take care of. As much as I look forward to a day when the kids can do their own laundry and hopefully their dishes, the fact of the matter is that time is neither now nor anytime soon. So much work goes into chasing kids around every day, and that doesn’t even speak to the real life shattering moments.
I was not happy to be sitting where I was yesterday morning. Asking for a handout is not my style, but to be reminded once again the need for me to get a legitimate, on the books job just fucking kills me. I just had to retort with the simple question that seems to have no answer: just what the hell are we supposed to do with our kids?? What do I mean? I mean December 18th and the following 3 weeks that there is no daycare available! I mean that, “hey boss, I need three weeks off this month” doesn’t fucking fly after needing 6 days off the month just gone. I mean that there truly is not a job that will give me enough sick days just to cover the times my kids get sick. I mean that I literally cannot have any job that starts before 9am because I have kids to shuttle around. I also cannot have a job that runs later than 5pm because I have to shuttle kids around. One would like to believe such accommodations would be available, but alas, not so much.
Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to do all of this for my family. I know that at least my girlfriend appreciates what I do. My beef is that society at large doesn’t value or appreciate what I do. I do work, as well, thank you all very much. As much as possible, I have a few folks that keep me busy with little projects. It’s enough to make up at least a part time income, but not nearly enough to pay all my bills.
Having pointed out the obvious fact that one school vacation alone far exceeds the stock standard two weeks leave even a decent employer offers, the helpful case worker says under her breath that we should maybe consider leaving the kids at home while we each work. At that point, my poor mind was kidnapped and hauled off in the way-back machine and felt the absolute fear, pain, and frustration of being a 7 year old boy burning eggs on the stove because I was fucking starving while my parents were away at work.
God damn it, society! Wake the hell up! Children need parents, period! I am but one middle age man out of a whole generation of men that mostly have no clue whatsoever what it means to be a man. Why? Because our fathers were too busy -presumably being men- to pass on a fucking ounce of constitution of manhood to their progeny. I’m sick of the demand to invest my time into some money mongers’ sadistic little money machine when it means short changing my family of my own time. Is our following generation not worth investing our time in? Is giving the bank/shareholders more money really a priority over nurturing our young children? Are we really trying to figure out how to feed people on Mars while school gardens get turfed over because absolutely nobody in a whole damn neighborhood will take one afternoon out of their year to show kids how to tend them?
I have a family. A family that I clean up after, feed, transport, and rescue. A family that I teach, hold, and comfort. A family that absolutely is my first priority before all other endeavors. I just wish that when I explain to someone that I have a family, they would understand the extent and importance of what I do for my family.