An exceptional weekend is upon us! I have bartered for a FOUR DAY WEEKEND. Don’t say it too loudly. The exchange is even- 6 Days Straight, in part because I use Holiday/Request-Offs/PTO so infrequently I don’t fully understand it. I’m sure you all know this too well. We all do it- Work- for extended periods, seemingly without refrain. Trained since school days to abhor tardiness and sick days. I hate to inconvenience the people I work with. Knowing your co-workers personally and the load they bare in your absence is just part of being responsible after-all. Even my aunt told me that “responsibilities always fall to the most responsible”. This mark of pride is also a terrible burden when considering that sometimes you just Don’t want to care. Especially when there are so many reminders that others do not usually consider your feelings when planning their personal lives. Who would? Amid the strain of relationships, kids, familial responsibilities, and financial strife, should one really stop to consider the individual stories and subjective feelings of everyone surrounding them?
As a human and fellow “person” I should explain that I do care. In fact, I previously worked with a much smaller group of people. If one wanted off, this almost Always guaranteed that the other 2-3 would be forced to take up the extra shift to maintain a full day of operation. The same was true of weekends, holidays, and extended hours. Conscientiousness was one thing, but this sort of necessity also bred animosity and resentment. In a very Ayn Rand way, humanity doesn’t want to be responsible for everyone. It is an impossible burden. Perhaps that has contributed to the feuds between various positions political, socio-economical, and otherwise that go without solution. It is a tough job to care for everyone, and a person should care for themselves and their families first.
In relation: a local paper published an article a few years ago about State provided benefits. There was talk of stricter policies and cutting off long-time receivers to help alleviate the overabundance of new applicants. A young woman who had been interviewed by the paper became the subject by asking who would feed her children now?! A woman and her fiancé suffering the uncertainty of feeding her 3 children rather than hold a job was a slap in the face of so many who are trying to carve out a living while being available to their family. The line is thin, but it should be drawn somewhere. It is no one’s job to take care of you, but it is human of us to care. Precariously perched between wanting to provide for the world and return the kindness it has shown us, and stepping back to allow people to take up the mantle of their responsibilities is more easily said than done.
Remember that you should always have some humility, asking for help is not easy. But you haven’t gotten to the place you are in life on your own, somehow someone has helped you each step of the way. My family has received welfare, and my children are among the many covered by State insurance- it’s no picnic. For our little family it was a mark of shame, an affirmation that although we created our little family; we could not take full responsibility for it. The stares in the grocery store while using our WIC checks (a very complicated and specific process) and the condescending attitudes of nurses and doctors at the few clinics that were available to use while we were fully dependent was painful. I worked full-time throughout both pregnancies, returning to work after the 3 month leave (not entirely paid) and felt that I should be doing more. As we slowly work our way out of the system, I feel a sense of accomplishment, though the work is more demanding, and it comes at the costs of time I want with my children, my husband and I take full responsibility for our family.
I digress; this is only a small point in the long of it. After so many years and perspectives, I can say that I enjoy my time home, I accept the longer week afterward. But I implore you to never feel guilty for the time you take. Everyone whether they like it or not should take responsibility for themselves, and their families. Do not identify with the label of your generation if it does not suit you. I do not. If you have babies, raise them to the best of your ability. If you need help ask, but sometimes the best help is a hard lesson: that no one will help you if you do not at first help yourself. Or in some cases: that time is too short to spend it in a career you hate, or in the misery of the unrelenting hard work that comes with those who take risks and handle responsibility. Understand that work ranks as a necessary second in order to survive, and that a day or a few days will go by without you holding up the walls, because much like Atlas: you have the world riding on your shoulders, but you only have so much time.