I am unemployed.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not working.
I am grateful to have married a man who understands that “domestic duties” are work. I am grateful to have married someone who appreciates the effort it takes to sort, wash, dry, fold, and put away laundry. Who loves my cooking and is willing to help with the dishes. Who understands how much good food costs, but that we both feel better when we eat well. Who doesn’t mind my constant purging of stuff (and all the trips to the Salvation Army that said purges require). Who knows that it’s not always easy to scrub out the bathtub, but the results are worth it. Who appreciates a clean, tidy, and beautiful home.
This is not an arrangement that either of us take for granted. There are jobs and chores to be negotiated (taking out the garbage and recycling, for example). There are times when I don’t want to cook, and there are times when Jason cannot stand the dishes. There are money worries, and societal pressures. Why aren’t I at work? I’m a teacher, shouldn’t I have a job? Can we afford to do this? Am I really working, or just playing house?
This life is a balancing act. It’s not easy. There are times when I am frustrated by employment opportunities, or the lack thereof. The economy still sucks. I get pissed off when people say that Jason should be “doing better” than Future Shop. It is a good job. I know it wont be his career, but now it pays the bills and provides health benefits. I get hurt by comments about me “not putting my degrees to use”. I also have mixed emotions when I see my former classmates post about finding “dream jobs”: full-time drama teacher, traveling music teacher, youth theatre educator…I want that, too. Jason and I made the decision to stay in Kingston, and that situation has left me with fewer possibilities in terms of education-related employment. And yet, I find joy in my life. Joy in the little things, joy in my relationship, my family. Joy in the knowledge that I am using my B.A. and B.Ed., just not in the way most people would expect.
Is it perfect? Is it ideal? No, of course not. I have my ‘dream’ life…the one where there are no more student loans, where the car is less than a decade old and has a functioning air conditioner, where there is a two bedroom apartment or maybe a small house, where Jason is working his dream job, and I am creating a life involving the arts, children, and education…I would like that life, in a small town, but close to bigger cities. But this is the life we are living, and it is still a very good life. We live in a nice neighbourhood, close to the YMCA, a public library, the grocery store, and most major bus routes. Our apartment is quiet, and things work the way they should. I am slowly but surely becoming involved in the Kingston arts community. We have a wonderful church family. Jason enjoys his work. Kingston is a pretty great place to live. Toronto and Montreal are close at hand, as are many provincial parks. We are close to my family, which means so much to me.
Still, things could always be better. Aside from winning lotto max and paying off our student loans and buying a nice new (or newish used) car, there are a few small things that could make home life just a little bit easier on the both of us:
Storage, storage, storage. We live in a one-bedroom apartment. It came with decent storage (a large “locker”, hall closet, decent cupboard space in the kitchen, double closet in the bedroom), but improvements could be made. This includes one of those over-the-toilet shelving units for extra bathroom stuff, a second chest of drawers to go inside the closet for our linens, most under-the-bed boxes, some containers for my craft supplies, and a small shelf for dvds, games, and the like.
Slipcovers. Our couch and comfy chair were given to us from one of Jason’s family friends. They were never used, are very comfortable…but the pattern is what I call “old lady floral”. We cover them up with blankets and throws, but I would love to make or buy some slipcovers in a sturdy navy-blue pint. Furniture is a funny thing for newlyweds, as there is a tendency to want the “perfect house” look RIGHT AWAY, and it’s not realistic unless you have scads of extra money just laying around. I’m okay with taking our time to build our household, to wait for pieces that are high-quality and beautiful. Our couch and chair are great, they just don’t match the decor. So slipcovers would make me happy.
On the note of beautiful things, more art. And a maybe some mirrors. A full-length mirror would be nice.
Finally, the kitchen. Kingston water tastes like it comes straight from the swimming pool, so a Brita would really help us when it comes to getting those eight glasses a day. Jason and I have also finally come to the conclusion that it is time to buy a coffeemaker, as my husband is a wee bit of a douche in the mornings. I want something small, that doesn’t steal precious counter space. He wants something that will make his coffee NOW. The mini-Keurig seems to be the answer to our prayers, and I think Jason’s parents are gifting it to us as a Christmas present. Until then, I am on the lookout for a small french press, one that can do double duty for loose leaf tea. Kitchen storage also needs a little work: a few lazy susans for the deep cupboards, and some wire shelves for the dish cupboards would make finding/getting what we want just a little bit more simple.
As I said, I’m unemployed, but still working. These are just a few quick fixes that will help me out at home, to make for a happy homemaker while I sort out my life.