My generation certainly has a better work ethic than what I see today. But sometimes it’s a little too good. Many of us judge ourselves and others by how much work we do. The more we work, they better we are. Or I should say the ‘gooder’ we are. We are OK as long as we are working…. we have something to show for our time. Being lazy is bad. It’s a guilty pleasure we don’t have to tell anyone about.
We see articles about very ‘successful’ people only to find their personal lives lacking, estranged from their own kids, suffering from depression and anxiety. But they are still held up in high esteem for how hard they worked.
Stay-at-home moms, who work as hard or harder than anyone, still hear that they don’t work. I worked with my husband keeping bees, making beeswax products and working Farmer’s Markets. I worked all the time, non-stop. Working at home sounds great until you do it. When you are at home making things you make a mess, then clean it up. Then cook and clean it up. There is always something new to do for your business and you are constantly messing up your home so you just work and work. Saturday is market day so the week works up to a frenzy by Friday night. Sunday you madly try and clean up the mess in case someone drops in. And they do drop in Sundays and say “it must be great to not have to work and just stay home all day”. And think, how could my place not be spotlessly clean if I’m home all day?
Yep, I worked. I worked so much I forgot how to have fun. We didn’t have children so there were no fun weekends or little moments of joy. Just work. Eventually I realized I wasn’t ever having fun and certainly wasn’t happy. I was living with a workaholic who believed that life was miserable and he was going to prove it every day. When menopause hit I could no longer work 10 hour days, I became a “parasite” in his eyes. I’m not just saying that for effect, that is what he called me.
At first, when I didn’t have this work I was lost. That was my identity; my job, my husband, my home….. all gone now. Even my mother passed away that same year. Now I had only myself to answer to. I, literally, have no choice but to do whatever I want. In our society women are taught to please others and it’s selfish to please yourself. But it’s my life lesson that I have no other choice than to please myself! Five years later, I’m still kicking other people’s voices out of my head.
Changing your habits is not easy. It took me two years to stop ‘rushing’. I would find myself hurrying to get something done so I could get on with the next thing. I’d have to stop myself and say, “Why am I hurrying? I have no time restraints, it’s just an unhealthy habit.”
Don’t get me wrong. Work is a good thing….. but it’s not a virtue! Work is a means to an end; to get to a place where you can relax and feel satisfied that you have earned it. If I don’t do some work during the day, I do not feel good. But I’ve learned it’s OK to take a break or an afternoon off without feeling guilty about it.
I love to relax now. It’s a luxury I was never afforded before so I relish it. (As long as I have something to show for my day,… damn!)