The Second Shift is Real

When I first moved to Los Angeles the problem, according to my pareja, was that I wasn’t getting enough freelance work. I had a column charting my move from Caribbean centric single mami’hood NYC life to Mexican/Central American centric cohabitation in Los Angeles. I was writing posts for political websites and blogging for my own sites. But it wasn’t bringing enough checks and I, seemingly, wasn’t pulling my weight economically or in terms of caring for a home my pareja owns to warrant my existence with my two children. So I begrudgingly took a job in retail – selling men’s shoes and suits in a national department store chain. Something not that unusual I guess. Just last week in meeting with a freelance marketing/branding expert I learned that she had begun working the overnight shift in another national chain to pay her bills. She is a single white women with better educational credentials than me. When I was able to get out of what a young, single, childless person within the “movement” gave me passive aggressive grief about, not always “working” in “movements”, I thought that would ease the tension. A long term freelance gig working with immigrants with an org I knew meant more money. It also meant I could go back to school. But then according to my pareja, I wasn’t studying enough. I wasn’t saving enough, and I still wasn’t paying enough into the household or doing a good enough job keeping house.

Now I’m an executive at a non-profit organization. I work more than 40 hours a week. I make a decent salary and my pareja can no longer say I don’t pay my fair share. But the complaints have shifted to other areas tied to my gender. I’m not a good enough mother. I don’t take good enough care of myself. I work too much and may not even be that good at it. The house is still not clean enough and I’m the one who does the bulk of the cooking, cleaning and food shopping.

It’s too easy to think yes I’m the problem, internalize that message that no matter what I don it’s not enough and I have to do more. But deep down I know better. I know I’m trying the best that I can and that’s good enough pero igual. Duele. It hurts and it’s not the healthiest way to live/work/be.

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