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Nine Octobers

Nine years ago in September, I told the guy I was dating that I wanted to break it off. He wasn’t serious enough.

Nine years ago in October, I told that same guy that being unserious with him was better than being serious without him. We got together to watch Quarantine, and resumed our occasional dating.

F201310_WedRob_130our years ago in October, I married that guy. He walked side by side with our little boy that day; I carried our second little boy inside me.

Four days ago, this October, I took a day off work to watch a horror movie with that guy. My husband. My Anthony.

We watched It. Both of us yelped at least twice. It reminded me of that day nine years ago, getting back together-ish with him over Quarantine.

October with Anthony, man.

I wouldn’t miss it.

Anthony hasn’t worked steadily in his chosen profession for a couple years. To him, on some level, this means he hasn’t really worked.

This is, of course, ridiculous. Anyone who’s spent four hours with two kids can confirm that raising kids is seriously exhausting (if also often beautiful and joyous) work. I, the eldest of four children of a damned hard-working single mom, knew this long before I became a mother.

Anthony’s working all right, and his work shows in his countless tender exchanges with our sons.

I thought we’d established between ourselves that his work for the time being is work, that unpaid work is no less work than the wage-slave kind, and that “my” money is no such thing. It’s ours, and that would be the case even if we didn’t live in a community property state.

And yet, this October afternoon, he said something about his money, scrunched his face, and said, “your money.”

“Ooooh!” I hollered in reply. When we had a lot of our early conversations about work, I didn’t have the words to explain what I meant, or how deeply. Now, recognizing I have so many more words thanks to all my recent reading, I leaped off our couch and went to my bookshelf, where I pulled out Kate Raworth’s Donut Economics.

I opened its pages and laughed. I displayed an array of colorful tags, explaining, “I had too many highlights, so I had to add tags to narrow it down!” Anthony shook his head, but smiled, too.

I looked up “core economy,” found the pages I was after, and read my tagged highlights aloud:

One basic feature of the economy is rarely pointed out in Econ 101–it is typically made up of four realms of provisioning: the household, the market, the commons and the state, as shown in the Embedded Economy diagram. All four are means of production and distribution, but they go about it in very different ways. 

mainstream economic theory is obsessed with the productivity of waged labour while skipping right over the unpaid work that makes it all possible, as feminist economists have made clear for decades.

By largely ignoring the core economy, mainstream economics has also overlooked just how much the paid economy depends upon it.

I’m able to focus on paid work because he’s taking care of all the other stuff. This isn’t some little aside. This is substantial–the core of my being able to leave home each day, and easily makes “my” salary our salary.

One of the good things about losing a year is the joy of rediscovery. I’m rediscovering everything. Life is more than the terrible things happening. There are all these things I love.

I love reading–not only non-fiction, but fiction.

I love watching horror movies with that guy, and then accidentally stumbling into selecting sci-fi and horror books with him.

I love sitting in the grass with him afterward, reading fiction books aloud. I love arguing joint ownership with him, and reading aloud from non-fiction books that support my position.

I love looking back on nine years of Octobers with Anthony.

October with Anthony, man.

I wouldn’t miss it.

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  1. October 13, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. My husband and I have always talked about his paychecks as our money. We decided when we were talking about marriage that, if at all possible, he would work a job to pay for our life and I would work at keeping that life organized and only work a job if I really wanted to or if his paycheck wasn’t sufficient. At the time we thought that we might have children at some point in the future, but we later realized that we actually had no desire to be parents. The fact that I stay at home but am not a mother really seems to bother some people, and that negativity can seep into my thoughts sometimes. I sometimes catch myself thinking about our money as “his money”. I often feel like I’m not doing enough, although in reality I take care of the majority of the chores, I’m the one that handles all our finances, and I’m the one the that keeps on top of the grocery list. And when it comes down to it, he tells me that he’s perfectly happy with our arrangement, so that’s all that really matters. It can be really easy to be negative towards yourself though.

    • October 13, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      I always wish I knew how to address those feelings in Anthony more effectively, but I know it’s not like that. There’s understanding with head and understanding with heart, and the heart isn’t often/always swayed by what the head perceives. Still, I keep plugging at it.

      Even without kids, there’s so much work to be done to keep a household flowing. And why, oh why is it that waged work is the marker of merit for some? It’s such a strange concept to me, now. I mean, I remember wondering–for years–why on earth anyone would want to be a housewife, and then I watched Mona Lisa Smile years ago and went, oh. Okay, that’s why. That makes sense.

      (I can’t believe I ever thought my opinion on what someone else chose to do with her life was that important. I did, though I strove not to let it bleed into interactions.)

      I think the world is better when people make and keep, together, the arrangements that work for them. You and your husband have chosen what works for you, and it does work for you. No matter what anyone else thinks, it’s your choice, your love, your money, your lives. You know what works for you both, and all the good that flows from it is well deserved. ♥

      • October 13, 2017 at 5:26 pm

        My husband recently switched to a work from home position, so he’s now home with me 24/7. We live in a small one bedroom apartment, so I had to sacrifice my dining room table because it is now his work station. Him being home all the time has both helped and hurt how I feel about my part in our life. It hurts because I am now even more self conscious about how I spend my days and I feel as though I need to find busy work to do on light housework days so that I am “working” more of the time that he is working, so that it’s more “equal”. It has helped because there are days when I look at him sitting at his computer doing reports and taking phone calls and just generally managing the people that report to him and then I look at myself constantly on my feet taking care of one chore after the next and I am fairly certain that I got the “harder job”. Especially on laundry days like today. Lol

  2. October 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Love this!

  3. October 13, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    It took years for my husband to work through my making quite a lot more than he did. Being raised your whole life to feel that your value in a family is purely financial is a hard pattern to break.

    • October 15, 2017 at 7:21 am

      So true. For me, the ridiculous is less in the individual and more in the societal constructs that have for so long nurtured this kind of thinking: “It only matters if it pays, preferably a lot.”

      A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a semi-related post from Never Trust a Jellyfish. (It looks like you did, too!): “You know the kind of person I mean: the king of guy who will condescendingly inform you that appreciating your husband for taking on all the housework while you were unwell is silly because it’s your husband’s JOB to do so. Or that being a stay at home mom is somehow unfair to you even if you CHOSE to stay home and no one is forcing you to do so.”

      While folks in exchanges like this seem to mean well, what they miss is how they’re confusing “the economy” with one portion of it. They’re elevating waged labor above all else and imposing their own skewed values on others, without recognizing (1) the act of imposition and/or (2) that they aren’t actually neutral values. The good news, IMO, is how many people are coming to see there’s nothing neutral about either the act of imposition or what’s being imposed.

      Now, if only the head-knowing such things could so easily translate to the heart, even after decades of internalizing the peculiar idea that the only valuable work is the kind for which you earn a paycheck … !

      • October 15, 2017 at 7:53 am

        Amen. Too many people think of kids as semi-disposable commodities. Children deserve nurturing. That nurturing does bear a cost and a value that is difficult to quantify. I hate that anyone is made to feel less for providing that for any child.

  4. October 13, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Such a positive story, Deborah 🙂
    It is important to find out, how we wish to live in each families and then do it.

  5. October 14, 2017 at 9:54 am

    So heartfelt. I need this make my husband read this too ❤️

  6. October 15, 2017 at 10:50 am

    I think we’re still struggling so much with unpaid work still being work, finding the value in all the different kinds of work we do. I love the way you express yourself and what an adorable photo of you two!

  1. October 14, 2017 at 4:35 am

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