Belts are being tightened around the Arch household. No, not in the “I’ve lost so much weight, my pants are too big” kind of way. More in the “It’s been a slower year than normal and we need to rein it in a bit” kind of way. Don’t worry! We’re fine. I’m not giving you a PO Box to send donations to… Yet. One of the things Russ and I agree on is how to spend money. We’ve always lived a little below our means and, since we’re both in an industry that thrives on never knowing where one’s next check is coming from, we try to keep big purchases to a minimum.
However, we are definitely changing our habits. For instance, we used to eat dinner (and lunch and some breakfasts) out a lot. I’d say on average we’d eat dinner out at least four nights a week. And I ate lunch out almost every day. There were periods of time when I’d cook a few meals a week, but it was never very consistent. And if we had leftovers in the fridge the next night, they’d sit there until they were thrown out, because we were at a restaurant. We don’t go to expensive restaurants. We like casual, diner-type places. But it doesn’t matter. Those meals out add up quick!
So, for about two months we’ve eaten almost every meal at home. I cook now at least four times a week, and we’re eating leftovers the other nights. And can I just tell you? I AM LOVING EVERY FREAKING MINUTE OF IT! I feel so… accomplished. And it feels fantastic to take care of my family like that. I feel like I’m nurturing them. Feeding people is a very powerful thing. I’ve always felt that way. But doing it consistently like this makes me feel like some kind of a super hero!
Yes, I am well aware that there are women (and some men) all over this Earth who cook every single night, and have done so for 10, 20, 30, even 50 years. I get it. I’m not the first person to cook for my family. But I can’t stop congratulating myself about it! I’ve learned new recipes and brought back old ones. I’m making soup and chili and about five different kinds of chicken! I’m roasting veggies and making pasta sauce. I’m putting awesome leftovers in Garrett’s lunchbox! Even the occasional “frozen food” nights are fun. And then I’m really counting the money we’re saving. Oh, and one night we had sweet potato pancakes, scrambled eggs and ham. Everyone was so happy! I’M KING OF THE WORLD!
Seriously though, I’m feeling very proud. Not because of the cooking, but because I’m learning things about myself. I am being given this time without work, and it feels like the biggest blessing. Ever since Garrett was born, I’ve wanted to be home more than anything. I love working, and I do hope to get back to it someday. But right now, in this pocket of time, I’m learning about what kind of wife and mother I am. I’m teaching myself new skills, and I’m finding out that I really like this side of me that I always knew was there. I’ve always joked with my friends, and they will attest to this, that I’m a 1950’s housewife trapped inside the body of a working actress. And, even though I’ve yet to greet my husband at the door with a martini, it’s true. I don’t even mind cleaning so much. I’m not a genius at it, but I’m good. And I like walking into the rooms I’ve cleaned and taking a deep breath, knowing that I did that.
The bottom line is this: I’m grateful and humbled. I’m so lucky that I’m able to stay home for this time, which could end at any moment with the birth of a new job, and find out that I truly love being this person. I feel more like me than I ever have before. That is such an amazing feeling. And I hope to take this new, authentic me to any job I have in the future. Because I think this person is much more interesting and happy than I ever used to be. Plus, if my work days are behind me and I never get offered another job, I really like the one I have right now! I’m humbled because of the women who do this job so beautifully all day, every day with more kids and less resources. I’m amazed at their grace and skills, and their ability to do it with very few thank you’s or pats on the back. I hope they take some time to congratulate themselves, like I just did! I’m also humbled by all the women who never get the opportunity to stay home with their kids because they have to work every day, no matter what. I believe that most of them would rather be mothering than working, and I admire them for doing what they have to do.
Friday night we decided to go out for dinner for the first time in a long while. Garrett asked what we were getting ready for and Russ said, “We’re going out for dinner!” Garrett whimpered a bit and said, “NO! I want to eat at home!” That might have been the best compliment I’ve ever gotten.