Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wife & Mother

So, yesterday I had a talk with my boss about how I work for him. In case you don't know this about me, I work primarily from home. I've been working for the same company for the last 8 years as a creative director (mostly a glorified designer and copywriter, but sometimes when we hire freelancers I actually get to direct the creative). My original deal was that I would work 3 days a week. 1 day from home, 1 day in the office and 1 day flexible (meetings, home, office, whatever was necessary). The number of days I'm paid to work and the number of days I actually work has fluctuated over the years. For the last 2 years (until about 4 months ago) I was paid to work 3 days a week, but actually put in closer to 4 or 5 on a regular basis. This past May, when the company started having some client problems I got cut back to being paid for 2 days a week - but the workload has never decreased and I've been consistently putting in 4, 5, and sometimes 6 days. In the last month there have been two weeks when I've put in 12-14 hour days for 6 days in a row - not fun.

So I went to my boss yesterday and told him that there can be no more of that. That I just can't afford, financially, physically or mentally to work so much without getting paid for it. His big deal, amazingly, was making sure that he wasn't getting cheated out of time - whatever! He's gotten so much time from me that he I could do nothing for the next 6 months with him paying me and he'd still make out like a fat rat.

But, at some point he says to me, "I hope when you're working from home, and you have things to deal with as a wife and mother, doing stuff for your husband and kids, you don't count that as work time." Well, first of all I was kind of insulted that he would suggest after 8 years of working for him and giving up MUCH unpaid for time, that I would so unprofessional as to be dishonest about my time. But beyond that, I had to stop and think...just what would I be doing as a wife that would take away from my work?

And then I thought about it. His wife, sometimes works in the office, in varying capacities. She has gone to school. She raised two kids - the youngest of which left for college this fall. But first and foremost, she is his wife. She does things like make sure he has matching socks, and bakes banana bread and keeps their home impeccably clean, and makes sandwiches for him, and all kinds of other little things to make his life run smoother and make him more comfortable.

And I had to wonder...does he think I'm doing all that for my husband while I'm saying I'm doing work? Because if he thinks that, he couldn't be more wrong. I don't do that kind of thing when I'm working, because I don't do that kind of thing when I'm not working. If I never had to work another day in my life, I wouldn't ever do that kind of thing. I don't even understand why anyone would.

Where did this idea come from that it's a wife's job to make her husband more comfortable, to make his life run smoother, to take care of little things for him? Who thought that up?

I think a relationship like a marriage is a partnership between two adults and neither one should be automatically responsible for taking care of things that the other can do perfectly well on their own.

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