Working, not shirking

So in the last couple of months we’ve been suffering what my friend kindly called “too much togetherness.” This isn’t the best house to have three people coexist all day every day in. I’ve also realised that since having E I actually go through PMT now. I didn’t before. I only ate a lot the week before. Now I eat a lot and rage at having to clear up after S. Feminist PMT. Joyous.

Anyway, that all ends now. I have three weeks before I go back to work and S has a job which he starts in two weeks time. Nursery hunting, which up to now has been casual and “we might need you or we might not or it might be part time or it might not” has now turned serious.

The job offer only came through this morning, a day after the interview. The interview was a group one and he wasn’t sure how he’d done. But apparently he was far and away the best candidate.

The difference was immediate. It’s been obvious that S doesn’t suit being unemployed and as much as he’s liked spending time with E, sitting at home and doing the kids stuff a lot of the day just wasn’t him. And having to apply for all those jobs before he found something was time consuming and exhausting. Somewhere in there we really have to ask whether employers really need applicants to fill out 10-page online forms with supporting statements of 1,000 words and so on for temporary low wage jobs. They might say they’re looking for the best candidates but a lot of this stuff is superfluous and ridiculous.

Anyway, it’s been a tough couple of months. Unemployment, Christmas, maternity pay and bad weather are not a great combination. When even my most reliable stress reliever, walking, isn’t really an option because of the snow and ice then you really do have to find depths of patience and love. At times I have clearly failed at this. And it’s harder somehow for me to get things done with him in the house. When it’s just E and me I find a way of doing things. We had a routine going before Christmas. That all went out the window because I couldn’t train him into it as well as I managed with E.

But as I said the difference was immediate. S has been obviously cheerful today, with a purpose to his pottering about. He went to get his hair cut, did some garden maintenance, took us out for a walk, and all these things were much more positive than he’s been recently. It’s hard to tell with someone so quiet who keeps himself to himself but I really think the last few months have had more of a toll on him than he cares to admit. I only saw him obviously frustrated once and that was after some dipshit at DWP’s “helpline” was obtuse about the possibility of us getting Working Tax credit.

The political landscape doesn’t help. We know the line currently thrown out by the government is ideological propaganda designed to cause fear and disgust and split opinion among working people but it still has an effect. And I hate that it does. Nothing about S is that of the “shirker”mentality; he’s always worked, he’s always worked hard and done god knows how many hours of unpaid overtime but the constant reiteration over and over of unemployed people being lazy and bringing misfortune on themselves plays on you subconsciously. Today he walked with a straight back as the weight of the last few months disappeared.

It’s unlikely that he will earn much more than we need to keep E in childcare. But that doesn’t matter. For now what matters most is that we won’t end up seething quietly at each other. Things will get easier.

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