I struggle in life to allow myself a break and to treat myself - I realize this might sound strange coming off my blog post about all the fun places I'm going this year but hear me out. I don't know where this extreme martyr gene comes from but I have difficulty knowing what is the right amount to take for myself. Case in point: I drive a perfectly sensible no-frills car and my husband drives a new BMW that cost at least 4x what my car did. I drive more than him and cart Anna everywhere, but there was just no way I could allow myself a luxury car. I'm not sure why. Don't get me wrong, my car is the perfect thing for me (van doors! cargo space!) but still, Uri would have been fine if I wanted something with more style and comfort even if it cost more.
I go to great lengths to save money (see landscaping) and we're at the point in our lives where we can afford to spend some cash on things if we see fit (see travel). When I was working, I found it much easier to spend money on myself (cough, JCrew personal shopper, cough botox). I
was doing my share by bringing in money and also working hard at home
and with Anna. But now I don't bring in a dime. I don't bring in a dime
and I spend my days going to fun places like the zoo, Disneyland and freaking Paris for crying out loud. I know that material goods are not important and I'm not sitting here whining that I need a Gucci bag or anything like that, but it's just hard to know what's reasonable. What if I want concealer from Sephora instead of the drugstore? Should I spend $30 on shampoo? I've been letting my hair get darker and darker so it will cost less to upkeep - should I be cutting these small corners all the time?
And it's just not money - it's my time. I feel that now I don't contribute income to our family, I have to make sure that our home is neat and tidy, laundry clean and put away, groceries purchased and in the fridge, yard looking good, and a hot, healthy dinner ready for Uri each night. Most days, it's pretty easy to get all these goals accomplished but some days it seems ridiculous.
This is a back and forth argument that Uri and I have been having. When we talk about having a second kid (which I am more and more against), he says I should just use more help: a night nurse, a nanny, more housekeeping. I realize that I'm at one end of the spectrum - over here scrubbing floors myself and ripping out rose bushes by hand. But then I look at the other end of the spectrum and it's not where I want to be. One of my sorority friends used to work for this really wealthy woman who farms out all her mom/wife chores. She has staff galore and basically spends her days with her tennis instructor and other ladies of leisure. But we all feel sorry for that lady. She has terrible relationships with her children and is kind of a joke. Not like we're wealthy enough that I could live with half the privilege this woman does, but just that's the other end of it.
I don't want to be too extreme either way - I am working on loosening up a little. I have Anna in "preschool" (daycare) 2 afternoons a week and that has been great. I also called a highly recommended housekeeper who is going to come and clean every other week. Not because I CAN'T do it (because I can do everything damn it!) but because it would be nice to have the help. But even these two small things are difficult for me to adjust to. I felt so badly the first week I dropped Anna off at school. She told me she wanted me to stay with her and that she felt lonely there without me. It breaks my heart. I know we could probably both use the time away from each other but I'm not totally sure about the place where she is. Just another thing to worry about and manage. And the housekeeper hasn't started yet but sigh, I was so proud of that $400 a month I was saving by doing it all myself. (Although we won't be spending nearly that on the new one.)
I know times weren't easier for women in the past. But sometimes I think about those 1950's housewives - that's all they were expected to be. Sure, many had yearnings past that but it was a perfectly fine thing to just be a housewife and manage the family and look nice. I feel like since I was able to balance all this AND work, that if I'm just doing this - I should be doing it 100% and without help. I feel like being home is my break and I have to work hard to earn it. I'm just not sure where the balance is.
How do you find balance in your life? If you work, do you use help? What about SAHM's that use help? Do you feel guilty about it? How do you know what is the right amount of indulgence for yourself? How do you budget for stuff like new clothes or hair or stuff like that?