A little over 3 weeks ago, my wife had a fall, resulting in a broken wrist. This, in turn, means I have todo a lot more of the domestic tasks. I’ve generally done a few things around the house and made the car and garden my particular responsibility. But we’ve always shared the load between us. What I’ve come to realise, however, is just how much my wife does silently in the background whilst I’m tapping away at the keyboard.
This has educated me a little more in the difficulties that must be faced by many women writers, especially those who have children and/or another job. I’ve always been employed as well as doing my writing, at least until I retired from employment a few months ago. So, I’ve had some understanding of the way a writer must juggle other tasks with writing: not always easy and never very satisfactory. But this experience with my wife effectively out of action (though her independent spirit means she’s still tackling anything she can manage with one hand!) has shown me just how hard it must be for those women who write whilst caring for a family. We have only one daughter, now at university, but currently at home for the holidays and working in a local hostelry.
I’ve found myself washing up (glasses and pans) – a task I’ve previously done only occasionally. Organising the dish-washer for the ordinary crockery and cutlery. Washing clothes and hanging them out to dry ( a time-consuming job). Ironing (also time-consuming). Preparing meals (another job I’ve done from time to time rather than regularly). Shopping (neither of us likes this one, but we’ve generally done it together to make sure neither of us gets lumbered). Preparing packing up for Kate on her work days (yes, she could do it herself, but she has the social life of a student and she’s doing research for her dissertation, so I’d rather she concentrated on being a student at present). So far, I’ve not used the vacuum cleaner, as Valerie insists she can manage that one-handed. And the dust is starting to collect, so I’ll have to get that duster out soon. The weather has been generally kind, so the car has managed without a clean for a few weeks. But the grass keeps growing, so that has to be tamed, of course. And, if I don’t get out there with a trowel, the weeds will soon become a veritable jungle. And, because she can’t drive, I’m also the chauffeur for when Valerie wants or needs to go places. There are lots of other ‘little’ jobs, of course, but it would be boring to enumerate them all. It all eats into the writing time.
But this is all temporary, of course. Once that pot comes off her arm, I know Valerie will go back to doing all these things and encourage me to spend more time writing. It’s those women who have no such relief from the daily grind that I’ve come to sympathise (dare I go as far as ‘empathise’?) with more over these few weeks. I’ve also come to admire them more. To continue day after day and still get those words down: that’s quite an achievement, ladies.
So, let me just say: Well done to all those women (and the few men) who write in spite of caring for their families. I admire your effort, concentration and spirit of determination. More power to you all.