Believe it or not, I’m still here. Lots of things have been happening; so many, in fact, that I haven’t had time to sit and write about them. Well, I’m blowing off the research, the bill-paying, the budget-fixing, and the laundry for the next hour in order to write this post. Then I’ll have to get ready to go to work.
Work, you say? Isn’t conducting this project and running the household enough for any sane person? Yes, but who said I was sane? And thank you for bringing up the first big change that’s happened around here.
It turns out that I’m not nearly the isolationist I thought I was, and being home alone every single day was beginning to take a toll on my mental health. We were also running through student loan money at a rather alarming rate-money that, being borrowed, will end up costing us more than its face value. So, I found a part-time job at a small local restaurant. It began as three days per week: enough to break up the monotony, but not so much as to disrupt my life. Then, of course, God did what He does at our plans: He laughed.
My Dear Wife’s classwork piled up to an epic level, leaving her sequestered in her ivory tower with a stack of research books and a word processor. One of the other servers at the restaurant got a better job offer out-of-state, so he gave notice and left; I ended up working every weekday. Spring planting season arrived, with two gardens (one in our backyard, one on the church grounds) due to be started. The Boys kept needing food, rides, and help with homework. Strangely enough, the laundry/dishes/bills/car care/shopping/pet care/house cleaning didn’t automatically take care of itself. I wound up, as they say, “in the weeds.”
Which is where a lot of low-and-middle-income people are these days. The days of the single-breadwinner household seem to be over; two-earner or two-income households have become the norm, and I don’t have time to look up the statistics on it right now. I did manage to find out that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average weekly hours worked is at 34.3, not quite full-time; that’s 93% of the 2007 level.
This, then, is the “new normal.” Hopefully, this wave will break in the next few weeks. I need to let my boss know that working 5 day shifts isn’t compatible with the rest of my life; Dear Wife will soon enough finish her papers and presentations; I will manage to carve out minutes here and there for what I need to do; but right now, I’ve got to shower, dress, and get to the restaurant. Maybe I can look up those job numbers later tonight.