It’s been a difficult summer. From the privileged position of having long stretches of the day to myself for a year to do ‘writerly’ things in peace, suddenly my life has been turned upside down with my husband’s retirement. I thought of requisitioning the shed and turning it into a writer’s den but have not resorted to that, quite yet.
Throughout our married lives I’ve done the cooking ~ not unusual you might say. Then in Fife I did absolutely everything in terms of housekeeping ~ guilty that I was no longer in ‘conventional work’ I suppose, although I worked pretty hard from morning ’til dusk.
Before returning to Bedfordshire from Fife I knew things had to change and so this was my first target of attack in a campaign to ‘get some of my life back.’ Life revolves around food and drink ~ morning cuppa, meal times, snacks ~ all required a rethink in order to give me periods of quiet to get my head around the task in hand and yet hubby needed to feel fulfilled too (and not ignored) so it was a fine balancing act. We didn’t always get it right in the early stages and had a few cross words and rows, but we’re getting there now. Here’s how we went about it:
1 First Ground Rule ~ ‘I think it’s coffee time!’
From day one I had to make it clear that when I was concentrating on a project I needed to be left in peace. Difficult for someone who would expect me to jump up and make tea or coffee. Mind you, he had brought me a cuppa first thing at about 6.15 am on work days for years!
We soon learnt to make our own tea and coffee but if I happened to emerge we’d stop and share a few minutes together.
1. Second Ground Rule ~ ‘What are we having for lunch?’
This was tougher but I liked to grab a snack, something simple, at an appropriate moment. Gradually hubby got the hang of getting his own lunch and even cooks bacon for breakfast sometimes too. Progress!!!
3. Third Ground Rule ~ ‘Is the dinner ready?’
Once he had mastered bacon there was no stopping him. It took time and patience to sit in the kitchen, giving instructions and the occasional helping hand, but now we share responsibility for meal times ~ a huge step forward ~ in fact he’s cooking a chilli to go in the slow cooker as I write this, which we will enjoy in a companionable state early this evening. Delicious!
In the next post I’ll share the more tricky day to day stuff.
How have you coped with a spouse retiring? How do you preserve your writing space and time? How do you hold on to your own identity? I’d love to hear from you.