Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A new way of accounting

What if we focused a little less on what we "should" do and counted a little more on what we have done? In short, what if we practiced a gentle attitude toward our spirit for having tried so hard and in so many ways to be honorable? Self-appreciation is a discipline, and it is grounded in a sense of self-worth. We must believe that we are worthy of our own approval, and then we must give it to ourselves consciously and concretely.
Julia Cameron
The Sound of Paper

Last year when pulling everything together to submit my tax return, I had to compile a list of all our medical expenses. There’s some sort of rebate that can be claimed when medical expenses surpass a specified threshold, and the obstetrician’s bills and other costs associated with our little ‘un’s arrival (plus some subsequent medical enquiry) put us over that amount.

In gathering all the receipts and writing up a summary, this is what I saw:

My husband, the main breadwinner, had gladly and generously covered all of our major bills. I put all of these large and humbling outlays into one column.

I had ensured that the smaller day-to-day expenses were covered, including doctors visits, medications, x-rays and so on. I put this longer list of smaller prices in another column.

When I tallied both columns, I saw that they came to much the same amount.

This surprised me and gave me cause to ponder. I’d just assumed that my contribution was lesser. It was much less grand, and much more prone to be lost in amongst our everyday life. But it was there, nonetheless, and it was considerable. Some might say more considerable, given how much smaller my salary is (and when my maternity leave ran out, I was on leave without pay).

Now I felt completely comfortable with both of our contributions and I’m not trying to say that I was denied thanks or recognition for any of what I did. I feel we’re in a good groove in terms of our relative financial contributions, which have evolved appropriately since I’ve returned to work part time.

But it did make me think: how much of what I do gets lost in the day-to-day because it’s not the grand gesture or the obvious contribution? I’d be the first to say that my husband [mostly] sees what I do and is grateful and supportive.

That list of expenses was a good reminder of the magnitude of things that I do that I don’t see or appreciate or acknowledge myself. I suspect this is something of a universal for women, whether they are mothers and/or wives or not.

Perhaps it's time that we developed a new way of accounting for ourselves: one that lays all of our daily micro-achievements on the table and celebrates us for the generous and loving souls we are doing our best to be.


  1. What a thoughtful post!! One of my dearest friends is a full-time stay-at-home mom...who also has undertaken the responsibility to home-school her two children. When I hear of all she manages in their house, I am always in awe.

    We women accomplish and manage so much more than we realize...or give ourselves credit for. =)

  2. Good for you for seeing how much you truly contribute in your household!!

    You are so right that those little bits add up to so much but sadly we tend to discount those little bits, when we shouldn't...

    I like your idea of creating a new method of accounting for ourselves! It could make a fun and creative project...hmmm, my mind is burning with ideas now!!

    Thanks for this post and the previous post my friend - these are things I needed to hear today =-)