“Not only am I turning down your bonus, but hey, let me pay for coffee too.”
“Sure I’ll design your blog for you. No, no, I wouldn’t dream of charging.”
“Absolutely love to run your social media campaign for you. No payment necessary!”
“This highly decorated princess castle birthday cake that took me two days to bake is yours for free. Under no circumstances are you to offer me even a penny…”
These seem like the words of a madwoman but people, I tell you, I have said them all. From turning down bonuses to doing projects for free, I have proved time and time again that I am utterly useless at making money. I was bad enough at it (see the bonus debacle) when I had a ‘proper’ job with a salary. Once I left work and became a SAHM, I lost the plot entirely. I can’t begin to count the hours I’ve spent making things or working on projects for people and never thought for a moment to ask to be paid. This has been exacerbated by the fact that I have been fortunate in not really having to make a financial contribution to the family coffers. It’s only my ego and soul that have suffered.
But recently, when earning some money became a bit more of an issue due to my husband’s illnesses, I been sent into a spiralling panic. We’ve talked lots about me getting an actual job, as indeed I am qualified and probably still just about experienced enough to do. But the demands of his unstable health means I could never be a reliable employee. In fact, for the past 4 years due to my caring responsibilities for my husband, son and other family members, I don’t think there is a single week when I could have guaranteed turning up.
Also, not to be underestimated, I would hate it. I am, as someone once put it politely, ‘a maverick’. What they meant was a grumpy, demanding, overreaching, challenging, unsatisfied and difficult person with no ability to control my dismissive ‘judgy eyes’ (yes, that’s where Mabel gets it from*).
The other outcome of the past years of caring is that I have been made acutely aware of my own mortality. I have spent so many hours having to adopt a zen approach to my life being eaten away in hospital waiting rooms that I am quite determined to make the most of those hours that I do have. And I would be seriously resentful at spending them filing in a stuffy office somewhere.
So, I know I need to be the engine of my own projects. I need to be an entrepreneur. I should know how to do that, my father is a pretty dynamic one and I’ve watched him for years. When I talk through my ideas and plans with other people who are great at making money, they are all encouraging. Great idea. Go for it, they say. And so I don’t.
For years I’ve told myself it’s because I’m lazy. Yet, when I look at the body of ‘work’ I’ve created whilst technically being a SAHM, it’s ridiculous to think I’m some lolloping dollop.
Fortunately even now, due to luck and good planning, there isn’t an imperative for me to earn a fortune to keep us in smoked salmon and gin cocktails. We have enough – we are the proverbial ‘a pound more than we need’ family and our needs are relatively modest.
But money isn’t just money. It is also a shorthand for success and success is a shorthand for validity and validity is a shorthand for deserving your place on this earth.
No money, no self-respect. No money, no respect from others. I know we’re not supposed to crave validation from other people but it’s not always easy to cope with not having any.
Whilst I see many women producing work that I would happily pay for, I wonder if my own reluctance has to do with an underlying belief that what I do is ‘female’ and therefore less than valuable. Which is utterly ridiculous, I know, because as I’ve said myself in posts on here and IG, the ‘female’ industries of fashion, fitness, flowers and food are huge money spinners.
Yet I’m a woman who still considers herself to be stay at home mum/general carer, rather than a person with any kind of career (despite what my IG bio says). As such, what I produce has no monetary value. In a way, I think this is why I’m drawn to things like Instagram and blogging; because making money out them is such a nebulous, secretive thing, I can constantly excuse myself for not making any.
This isn’t one of those blog posts with a nice, neat “and this is how it all got sorted out” ending. I have nightmares about this. I see the sands of time running out whilst I sit here blithering. I’m starting to think I need therapy to sort out why I have such a stubborn resistance to making money.
In the meantime, if anyone has any time consuming, creatively demanding projects they’d like done for free… well, you know my email.