I feel trapped. When I had my first child, I made the decision not to return to work after taking maternity leave. The job I left wasn’t a career. I simply worked part-time as a retail assistant (in a high-street store that has now closed), tiding me over while I tried to make it as a freelance writer. Seven years later I have had another baby (now at school), and I am still trying to make it as a freelance writer. I have attended online training courses. I joined a government funded initiative that would teach me how to build a business, but it was completely irrelevant to my needs. I have no trade skills, no official business knowledge. I have what was once called a “burger-bar degree” because it gave me no prospects. A regular job is a distant dream for me, though not for lack of trying. I dread to think of the number of jobs I have applied for during the past fifteen years, and still I cannot find something secure that will fit around school and allow me to find suitable, affordable childcare.
And now I am trapped in the role of housewife. On the one hand I know I am incredibly lucky to have had this time with my children. I have friends in successful professional careers that have missed out on special times with their babies. But then those friends have the satisfaction of work and the prospects of financial security to balance it out. Nobody will pay me for being a housewife. My husband pays for our household expenses, and I cannot even buy myself a car, which makes me feel humiliated. I hate having to ask for his permission to buy something. What happened to the confident, independent woman I always saw myself as being? I am still confident. I am angry. Why doesn’t the world recognize the skills I bring to the workplace? Why can’t literary agents and big publishers see the potential in my fictional work? Why do I even bother trying?
My days are taken up in caring for my children and husband (who has a severe mental health disorder), supporting family members with their own health challenges, applying for jobs, networking in a vain hope that I might sell a few books, and keeping the house clean, tidy and safe. Oh, and I do the grocery shopping, help with school trips, deal with extra-curricular activities, arrange play-dates, organize birthday parties, keep the wardrobes up to date so that our children are properly clothed and clean. And now I am embarking on a program of home redecoration to modernize the house we bought last year. But none of that matters. Nobody cares. And it certainly doesn’t earn me any money so that I can be independent. Life goes on, in all its ups and downs. Some days I am grateful for my situation. Other days I hate it. And always I am applying for jobs, trying to better my prospects, trying to feel valid in a world that doesn’t care. Thanks for listening, folks (or not!). My pity party ends here.
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