Out of game status update – Part 2

To summarise part one – took a break, unsuccessful job search, looked at business opportunities, went back to school.

I haven’t had the normal sort of impetus – like food and shelter – to get back to work as soon as possible. Despite two years of me being unemployed, financially the family is fine. When I finished at my last job the mortgage had already been paid off, we had no debt, and the bank balance was healthy. The situation has not changed, and we live reasonably comfortably on my wife’s wage.

The fairly logical and unrushed journey I’ve been able to take in working out what to do next in my career has been a relatively fortuitous luxury not afforded to most.

By taking primary responsibility for the kids, my wife was able to change jobs twice and rejuvenate her career. I am better at cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping and time management than my wife, so the house is better organised and runs smoother.

My wife has a pathological need to have our kids lives filled with organised activities – aside school five days a week there is soccer training and matches, swimming, karate, athletics, roller-skating lessons, Sunday school and professional appointments for our daughter. Since not working it has been a lot less stressful for us all trying to meet my wife’s overfull and complicated scheduling.

I am better at dealing with our daughter – who is on the high functioning end of the Autism spectrum. Over the last two years we have been able to work with her Paediatrician, Psychologist, Speech Therapist and Teachers to better understand her, and have got her out of control tantrums from happening 15 to 25 days a month down to 3 or 4.

It is not all happy days though.

My wife is supportive – almost always, mostly, sort of. For much of the first year she was keen on me not working as it made it much easier with her job changes. She understands the journey I have gone through, the decisions I have made, and says it all makes sense to her. On the surface I have a great deal to be thankful for.

But – my wife avoids confrontation like the plague and is passive aggressive. The occasional jibe, under breath utterance, and attitude shift suggests she isn’t entirely happy. She expresses annoyance at not being able to spend as much money on the things she wants – travel and entertainment. She jealously remarks on how she would love to be the stay at home parent – while indicating she wouldn’t make anywhere near the effort I do or wangle the kids half as well, so I’d be expected to still cover off lots of that stuff. I’m left with the underlying impression that while she is thankful and happy with my contributions, she thinks a little less of me, and if she was to be completely honest, she would prefer I do all that I do – and earn a good wage at the same time.  She would like to have her cake, and eat it too.

My wife and I have always been very good at making long term plans. We haven’t really been able to since not knowing where my career will go.

Personally, I have found it very hard to quantify my self-worth in the Stay at Home Dad role. A monthly salary was an easily defined contribution to the family. A male keeping the house orderly, the fridge full, the kids in clean clothes, putting a hot meal on the table as your wife walks in through the door – society either assumes I am not doing it, or it is dismissed.

We likely both sound ungrateful – but understanding and meeting your own, your families, and societies expectations in this area has been trickier than expected.

So back to concise context – not working has left me busier than before, there have been real benefits for my family, but it has been tricky to navigate, and leaves aspects of life on hold.

So that is life out of game. Now back to the normal sporadic updates.

2 thoughts on “Out of game status update – Part 2

  1. Damn dude. Some heartfelt words there.

    Whilst it does not all sound like sunshine and roses you seem to hold up remarkably well given the situation. Well done to you (so far as it’s ongoing…).

    I can relate to a couple of points you make. Been retrenched 3 times. Every time found a new similar job, but boy that hit to your confidence. Also working in tech/engineering but no longer have the motivation/enjoyment for it. Of course I hit the same wall as you do – what to do if I do quit…? So I soldier on, but it’s only a matter of time before I will be forced out due to not “keeping up with the technology”. Watching this space with interest!!

    Regarding the man doing the work on the home front – I now work from home. The bulk of cooking/cleaning/washing around the house gets done by myself (but not it’s only myself and my wife – no kids!). It’s just so easy when you are at home all the time – pop a load of washing in the machine, hang out during tea break. Start dinner around 17:00 and its ready when wifey comes home. My wife really appreciates this – why should my good fortune regarding no commute not turn into OUR good fortune after all.

    Virtually everybody else just dismisses the effort without as much as a nod to in my direction – don’t get me wrong – I don’t want or deserve a medal – after all I wash my clothing/dishes/make my food too, but society does tend to just dismiss that.

    All this just a very long winded way to say – hang in there. Keep up the blog and the good work, in some way you brighten up your readers’ day.

    • I didn’t view it as heartfelt – just being honest. (I knew some of my readers would understand and relate.)

      I have not been retrenched before – but have witnessed a couple hundred of my Colleagues over the years being let go. It was rarely about their competence, but I can see why many took it personally at some level. I expect I would too.

      Most of my friends and acquaintances in various Tech / Engineering roles are having career difficulties. One aeronautical engineer now assembles trucks (but enjoys it), an automotive engineer spends half his life travelling now, a fellow who worked in engineering / project management roles in mining now runs a motel, a couple engineers in manufacturing have had forced job changes multiple times in recent years with long gaps between employment – similar story with some IT system administrators, and a couple engineers in telecommunications have ended up subcontracting and doing basic work. The whole nature, pay, value placed in such roles have changed lots over the last decade. Scary to think where it is all heading.

      I understand where you are coming from with not needing to get praise or a pat on the back for your efforts at home – but the complete dismissal, or in my case, even some derision gets a bit annoying / grating.

      Thanks for the words of encouragement. I’m doing ok.

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