Today, I had a very difficult discussion with Mr. Barefoot. He wants me to cut back on work.
Strangely enough, I argued with him....I'm a dolt.
On the one hand, it is so nice that he is noticing how hard I am working and how tired I am. I really appreciate it, partly because I still haven't managed to kill the last little bits of the "Cinderella" dream every little girl is taught to keep close to her heart (you know...."someday I will meet a Prince who will take me away from all this and protect me" la dee da) and partly because it is just NICE to know that your partner in life cares if you are miserable. In a sense, his talking like this has given me "permission" to think about quitting some of my extra work without worrying that I will be letting him and the rest of the family down.
On the other hand, I hated every minute of it. I kind of felt like I was being scolded for doing the best I can to improve our financial situation. There is also the issue that it is so important to me that we become debt free. It just bothers me on a very deep level to owe anyone anything.
The conversation was also difficult because it takes a lot of mental tricks to work so much and spend the rest of your time taking care of your family. I survive by giving myself pep talks and convincing myself that I can do anything. I make it through the long hours by not thinking about it, just focusing on each moment as it comes and not thinking about what I give up.
It is really hard to do that when you have someone pointing out to you why your lifestyle isn't working well.
I also look at it this way: while I have "job security" in that there will always be people who need good caretakers, the three jobs I work themselves don't carry a lot of job security. The house that I work for may be closing, one of the women I care for privately is 97 (and you can't tell me that she will live forever), and the other woman I care for...well, I think she would be better served by attending a Day Center like where I used to work and I am actively trying to convince her to give it a shot (thereby putting myself out of a job). It makes sense, then, to continue with these jobs until they are no longer available, and just not find others to replace them.
Just to make things a little more complicated, I feel I have an obligation to my clients. Not so much my full time job (which, ironically is the one I would like to quit and the one that I really shouldn't), but to my one-on-one clients. Their families know me and trust me. My CLIENTS know me and trust me. Doing that kind of care work is a very personal thing. Imagine how hard it would be to find someone that you trust to go and take care of your grandmother in her own home. Of course there are the basic concerns like "is this person trustworthy" and "will they do a good job", but almost as important is the question of if your loved one will LIKE their caregiver. It is no fun to have someone that you don't like come into your home and spend several hours with you. Having a personal connection with your caregiver makes the hours go faster and more comfortably. How many of us would take a nap with a guest in the house? It is a lot more comfy to lay down when you know that a close friend or family member will have lunch ready for you when you wake, isn't it?
Anyway...I suppose this is just my rambling way to say that there may (or may not) be some major changes in my lifestyle coming up over the summer. Mr. Barefoot and I have decided we need to talk over our options and see what would work best for all concerned. The funny thing is that when I think of working less, I draw a blank in my mind. I am so busy going from task to task that the idea of free time has just disappeared from my mental vocabulary. It is almost as scary to think of NOT working this much as it is to think about HAVING to work this much always.