October 25, 2014
It’s Saturday morning and I am feeling a little rushed. I have several things to do before I leave town and now the kids are asking me to fix breakfast. Which I sort of promised my son I would do while chatting with him on Facebook last night. Because I felt guilty. Sort of.
I was raised that the woman of the house cared for the children. She was expected to clean the house, feed the animals, make the meals, shop for the groceries, pay the bills, do the laundry, wash the dishes, and basically manage the household while the man of the house went to work and brought home the money. Yeah. Nice idea. Let’s fast-forward to today’s expectations shall we?!
The reality is that I have worked all of my life. I took some time off when my youngest was born and stayed home while my husband worked outside of the house, but when The Princess turned three I went searching for a job that would fit in with their schedules, was something I enjoyed doing, and that paid fairly decently.
That’s when I discovered bus driving. I had been a courier for years before the girls were born, so driving a bus seemed like a great way to earn better pay and still do something I enjoyed, which is driving. So I became a school bus driver and then moved over to driving transit, where I have remained for over 17 years. When I got behind that wheel I received better pay but there were sacrifices along the way I couldn’t foresee, one of which was the long hours that I wasn’t home. Missing out on family time because I was at work late. Not taking The Princess to her first day of kindergarten because I couldn’t get the day off from work. Things that I couldn’t repeat and won’t ever get back. These sort of things still haunt me to this day.
Because of this, I have guilt issues. Granted, driving transit bus has helped me attain many of my life’s goals. I drive a nice SUV, my girls were able to go to private school, and we own our home. On the flip side, transit is not a family-friendly career. The hours suck and when you are on the bottom of the totem pole you get whatever crappy schedule comes down to you and are grateful for it, because otherwise you are stuck working extra board where you have no idea what schedule you will have from day to day or what days off you might get. If my husband hadn’t decided to stay home with the kids I could have never done it. And there is the kicker.
See, we had this deal. My husband and I met while working in a group home together. I actually worked at one house and he worked at the other. We saw first hand the damage that can be done to children by those that are supposed to be the ones caring for them. We also realized that there is no reason to have children if one of us isn’t going to be home to raise them–why would I give my children to a stranger for the better part of the day to care for them and pay them to do so? So we decided that whomever had the better paying job when we decided to have kids would be the one to work and the other one would stay home. When I started driving bus that person became me and I have earned the main income for almost twenty years now. But at what price?
My husband became a house husband. I still dealt with the girls most of the time–getting them off to school, taking them to functions, etc, but he was the one who was home when they got out of school. He did the laundry, the dishes, paid bills, and even cooked dinner! He stayed home until the youngest turned eleven, then came to work with me and now he also drives transit bus.
It worked for us but we caught a lot of flack for it. He did things outside the home to earn money but no one saw it except me. Before the big craze on TV about buying and selling storage units hit he made a decent living flipping units. My family especially didn’t understand. Like I said, I was raised that the man of the house was the major bread winner, but I never quite fit into that mold and I was seen as a nonconformist most of my life because of it.
Anyway–back to the guilt. Because of the kind of hours I work I am not home in the mornings. Weekends are the only time I can make my family a nice breakfast but with everyone’s busy schedules it doesn’t always work out that we will all be home to enjoy it. The Princess is at work this morning. My “son” is on the couch trying to catch a little shut eye, having worked the graveyard shift at his job, and now he is here to help his “dad” get a few things done around the house and yard. My oldest daughter and I are leaving for LA at noon to go to a concert, and when we come home tomorrow the husband and I are leaving on a little trip to South Lake Tahoe for the vacation we didn’t get to take when my dog Cash got stolen. I am packed and ready to go but still have things to do and now I should make breakfast. Because I feel guilty for all the times I didn’t get to. And I have a grand daughter that lives with me now who needs to have those same memories that her auntie and her “Mom-Mom” have of Nanny making breakfast on the weekends… Sigh…
So how does guilt motivate you? What kinds of things can others guilt you into doing? How do you cope with all of the things you HAVE to do versus the the things you WANT to do? Which one wins?
Okay–it’s now 10 AM. I am going into the kitchen to make a big stack of pancakes, kiss my grand baby, take a shower, and get the heck out of Dodge because I hate the traffic in LA and it’s a five hour trip just to get there! Guilt will be assuaged and I can leave with a clear conscious!! I will let you know how this all turns out next week… 🙂