Monday, October 31, 2005

Boo-Humbug and other Tales from the Scales ~ and why women try to do it all.....

Boo-Humbug. This year I screwed up. This is the first Halloween in 26 years that I have not worn a costume. Not once. I feel badly. I feel sadly. and I feel like Scrooge. I just didn't have time to get one ready, money to buy one, or really the desire. With the living and dining room gutted, and the rest of the house cluttered and stacked and dusty from ongoing remodeling (4 months down, probably 1 to go) I really was't even able to get halloween decorations up. I did decorate the front porch a bit, and outside the front door quite a bit. I carved two pumpkins, and cooked pumpkin seeds. I drank all the pumpkin spice cappachino, Culvers pumpkin shakes, and Tanner's apple cider I could muster, and also ate Dairy Queen Pumpkin Blizzards, Tanner's Apple Cider Donuts and Caramel Apples I could fit. And I gained 7 pounds doing it. But I didn't have a costume. Not at work, not at home, not during trick-Or-Treat. GASP! Does this mean I am OLD! NOOOOOOO!!! Next year I will come back! Of course next year at this time I had better be pregnant. So I guess that means I could be a pregnant nun or something. Although I can never ever see why I would want to dress up as a nun, or pay money for a habit (besides a scrapbooking habit... ha ha) Any suggestions on a good pregnant costume are welcome.

The weekend was fab. We ran all over hell. Self inflicted. Firstly, we had a wedding reception on Friday night. Evan attended but I did not, I had too much other stuff going on, and not enough warning to block off time because our invitation must have gotten eaten by that mailman, since it never arrived. Although they swore they sent us one. Well, who knows.

Saturday I had to get up early. Anything prior to 8am is early for me. I usually get up at anywhere from 8-8:30, since I usually work like 9 or 9:30. So I got up early and enjoyed a free donut from Casey's in Wyanet, it was their 25th anniversary. Then on to Princeton to work, to do my weekend duties (which I cannot discuss here in case I disclose any "operations" of my workplace, which I also may not mention by name or industry) and then on to a 9am Cardmaking class, which I busted my ass to get there 25 minutes early so I could leave 25 minutes early. I got 16 Christmas Cards made in the short time span of 2 hours. Then I hauled ass back to Wyanet to meet Evan and we packed up the car and headed for Macomb.

We stopped at McDonald's in Monmouth, which was THE Most messed up McDonald's I have ever been to. It had the two lanes to order from, which then merged to one. Well, it was lunch hour, rush crowd, and there were about 22 people in the two lines, and we waited for FIFTEEN MINUTES to order and then get our food. It was silly. And of course the girl who took our money had the NASTIEST fingernails. It makes me cringe. I hope they don't let her touch food with those hands. I guess because it tasted so good, that must mean that there was something funky in it.

So at about 2pm (1 hour late) we arrived at Evan's cousing Amy's for a Stampin Up party. I spent lots of $$ on new supplies and made three cute Christmas cards. I am a CARD MAKING MACHINE!

That night we are Chinese Buffet and then Evan and I went to Wal-mart, our home away from home, and then stayed at his Brother Kyle's. Sunday we had donuts for breakfast, and a nice drive home together, then I had to go back to the "undisclosed place of employment" to do the "undescribed duties which have been assigned to me" and then I washed my car, and went home to prepare for Trick-Or Treat.

I cleaned the front porch. I opened bags of candy. I changed clothes twice. I sat down with all the candles and jack-o-lanterns lit and a GIANT basket of Candy, and began to read The Bitch in the House a book written by 26 women and edited by Cathi Hanauer. It is primarily stories of women who find themselves so far from the 1950's "angel" in the house.... and are juggling careers, motherhood, housework, hobbies, and husbands... and find that instead of an angel, they have become "the bitch in the house." It is so far, really quite fabulous, and I can easily read and relate to it. I don't read well while distracted, but I seemed to make it through three mini-stories while chatting with trick-or-treaters... so that should tell you how good it is.

Any woman my age (any woman who is not a lazy slob) will tell you how it feels to be pulled 100 thousand directions, have a husband or boyfriend whom you feel does NOTHING or not nearly enough to help you, and many with children will tell you how it feels to singlehandedly raise them while their husband sits on the couch or on the internet. I have to appreciate this book, especially when other women tell you their stories, and how we got outselves into this mess, and how in the world can we possibly get ourselves out, without killing someone in the process. It's all about asking for help and teaching our spouses how to do things. Essentially don't be a martyr. And that won't solve all our problems, but it will help.

I grew up in a sort of feminist way. I can do ANYTHING that a guy can do. I can do ANTHING I want to do. I can work and be a mom. I can work in agriculture. I can make the same money for the same work. I can have a nice clean house and dinner on the table and a loving husband. I can have it all. The part that they forgot to mention.... is that I will be crazy.

I learned pretty quickly that I was banging my head against a concrete wall. I can do anything. But I won't get respect from everyone for doing it, and I won't be given the same treatment and the same paycheck for doing it. I think the first time I really learned that was while working at Kasbeer Farmer's Elevator. I was doing bookkeeping and sampling and weighing in all the trucks, and selling grain to the river and giving prices to farmers. I was busting ass there. And one day, a farmer, in all the best intentions, said to me "I think that you should go to school. You do really well for this, and if you went to college and got a degree, you could be more than just a secretary." I was crushed. I was not just a secretary. I was barely shy of a grain merchandiser/bookkeeper/manager. I waas juggling everything. I HAD A DEGREE IN Ag Business Management and Three certificates in animal sciences. I was NOT a secretary. But did I make coffee? Yes. Did I answer the phone? Yes. Was I cute in a skirt? Positively. was I making $8 an hour to do everything. Absolutely. Looks damn well like a secretary to me? How about you?

So I switched industries. I would always be the secretary in the eyes of old farmers everywhere. They loved me. I could talk to them about everything. I knew the grain prices, and what happened in Brazil. I knew the state of traffic on the river and I knew the moisture of every farmer's corn for 20 miles. But I was young and cute and I liked to chat and make them coffee - and I was after all a woman. So that made me a secretary. I tried not to take offense... but how could you not? Those men had no idea that I had vaccinated pigs and castrated cattle. That I had put up a grain bin and taken out test plots with a weigh wagon. They didn't realize that I had done their soil testing last year and while on the 4-wheeler had made all new maps of their fields with new waterways included and old fence lines removed. They had no freaking clue. I was just that cute girl in the skirt with a hot cup of coffee. Secretary It is.

Now, in the computer industry, and with web and graphic design... I am accepted as an equal. I am considered intelligent and my ideas are welcomed and praised. People think (assume) that I have a computer degree when I do not. This time the assumptions are on MY side instead of against me. People call me a Guru. They plead for my help and I leave them beaming and appreciative. This is the way I want my life to feel. I want to be recognized as helping someone, making their lives easier. This is the industry I should have started with. However, by not going through agriculture, I would have thought "what if" and I would have never learned the lesson that no matter how determined you are and how hard you work, there will always be someone who doesn't appreciate you and doesn't understand. There will always be someone who thinks you are a secretary.

I should have learned that when I interviewed for a sales position with Mike Boney in Aledo. I was offered the job but something just didn't feel right. It was my dream job in agriculture, but it just seemed off. Maybe it was that their main concern was that every farmer's wife would shun me. They wouldn't appreciate a cute little blonde stepping out of a big truck to sell something to their husbands. As if I were there to have sex with every crusty old farmer in the county, instead of be the best damn sales person I could be. Did they ever think that those women might just say "that chick is awesome. She'll keep my husband in line and take stock in my opinion as well." Maybe it was that the guys in the shop at the business were more worried about if they could say a bad word in front of me or post a nudey calendar in their shop than if I would do a good job. It was an eye opening that I saw.... but just ignored. Turned down the dream job because I was in disbelief that such a "man's woman" like me, who could curse and party with the best of them, was causing them such worry. It wasn't worth it then, and it really isn't worth it now.

Sometimes I wonder if all this feminism really got us anywhere. As much as I love the 60's and 70's, it may have screwed us over royally. Circa 1950, we had to cook and clean and raise the kids. We stayed home all day and got laundry and dishes done. We packed lunches and baked cookies. Now we have to work full time and demanding jobs, our income is absolutely necessary- the changing economy demands that we work. And we still have to be pregnant (and are made to feel guilty for it, because we can't work and deliver and nurse a baby at the same time, yet our income is necessary), nurse babies, make dinner, do laundry, dishes, and clean the house, plus we are the brownie leaders, the PTA members, the field trip chaperones, and the 4-H sponsors of the world. We are run ragged. We are too exhausted to enjoy what we have and we spend more time screaming at our husbands to help us than we do loving them and just getting the hugs that we so desperately need and deserve. All for a job, that I would give up in a second to be a full-time mommy and cuddle my children. We fought so hard for something that we don't all even want. And now we are stuck with it. Like an army of super mom clones. All Alone.

When will men realize that they need to support the women who are carrying their children, nurturing and loving them, and help. Pick up your underwear. Put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Do a load of laundry, or at least take it to the laundry room without being asked. Do ANYTHING without being asked. Take out the garbage before it is so full it falls all over the floor. Does your wife look stressed? rub her back and her neck. Ask if you can take the kids somewhere and give her a moments peace. Ask her what you can do to help. Tell her you love her. Is that too much to ask?


Tina said...

Meagan, wow. Your professional background is so interesting! I can identify with so much of what you say here...I spent years pouring coffee for bitchy suburban housewives while I built up my translation career on the side. I hope your husband does give you that back rub sometimes and all the support you could ask for, and more!

dazed said...

Ha ha. It's been a wild ride! It amazes me how many places I have been (work wise) in the years since I graduated college. Of course, I was the person who had already had 6 jobs by the time i graduated high school. I started babysitting when I was 10 (yes, seriously... for a family of three) and babysat almost every weekend and some weeknights, and all day every summer, until I got a car. Then I still babysat on the weekends and had various agricultural jobs all summer, for companies like Pioneer and A spraying company. So It feels like I have been working forever. Looking forward to having kids, but at the same time, thinking Lady! Are you crazy! How will you do all that!? Ha ha

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