I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It's All (not) There In Black & White

Recently DH and I sat down to work out my taxes. No, we're not several months late - the financial year here ends on June 30. Anyhoo, we (okay, he) punched all the relevant numbers into e-tax (the online tax form) and bah-dah-bing-bah-dah-boom it spit this out:

Last year I earned less than $18,000. BEFORE taxes.

As in, I technically earned below the poverty line.
As in, kids working at Mickey D's made more money than I did.
As in, if DH were to get run over by a bus tomorrow, I couldn't afford to feed the kids, let alone myself.
As in, I earned how little?! Wait, DH, that can't possibly be right. Surely not. I mean, that's, you know, NOTHING.

Sadly, blog readers, it's true.

In the past 12 months, I've worked every hour I could.

As in, I took every shift work offered me.
As in, I worked early mornings, late nights, weekends, and everything in between.
As in, I ended up in the hospital for over 2 weeks because I worked myself into a back injury.
As in, I've never worked so damn hard as I have in the previous 12 months. (Okay, the 12 months before that? Equally as hard, but I earned more. Explanation below.)

Now it should be said that previous to this crazy cheffing biz, I worked a normal work week of 38 hours, with an hour lunch break, and earned somewhere in the vicinity of $50,000 a year. You know, REAL money. I also know that I hated most of it (except the fact that ABF worked there, too) and that towards the end, it was a soul-destroying experience. I *love* my job. I *love* being able to say, out loud, to total strangers, that I AM A CHEF. I am much happier now than I ever was before. In many ways my job now defines who I am.


My back aches, often. (Although said injury is now basically resolved.)
My Birkenstocks have worn down to THROUGH the cork. Three times.
My clothes all smell vaguely like yeast and/or cooked meat, even after washing.
I'm not sure what my kids look like in the morning, because I leave the house before they wake up.
All the clothes I own are either black, white, or checkered black and white.
When I get into bed at night, I average about half a paragraph before falling into a sleep so deep, it would take a large volcanic eruption to wake me up.
My right pointer finger is permanently calloused from my knife pressing against it.

And for all this, I get paid nothing. Now the sad thing is, I actually get paid pretty well for my industry. Hour for hour, I am earning close to 50% more than I was the previous year. Difference is I am working less hours now, hence the frighteningly small amount of money I earned. I feel like I worked a lot more, but I earned a lot less.

Since I saw that ridiculously small number on that screen, I've felt a little bit depressed about it. I mean, shit, I don't know how much more I could have done. Sure, it was an unusual year in so far as I was out of work (with said back injury) for about 7 weeks. Plus I had about 2-3 days of school a week, limiting my work availability. Plus I changed to working in catering (as opposed to a restaurant) which meant I worked 50+ hours some weeks, and barely 8 in other weeks. So the itty-bitty-teeny-weeny earnings make sense. Logically, I mean. Emotionally, though? Complete train wreck.

I cried, you know. Something I don't do all that often. At the moment I feel as though I am stretched very thin (ha! probably the only time I have a thin day as opposed to a fat day!). I'm working for my normal company, opening my own (T minus 3 weeks), doing 2 small side jobs (writing at Candy Addict, and until last week, consulting to a restaurant building a pastry section.) So you know, it's not like I'm sitting here eating cream cakes and sipping ice cold Campari.

And all this for $17,675?


Then I am struck by the thought: I don't really give a flying shit what I earn. I love my job. I'm good at my job. It's really all that matters, especially since I am fortunate enough to have a DH who does much less work (pound for pound, literally) than I do and earns...well... A WHOLE HECK OF A LOT MORE, shall we say, than I do. And it's true, it takes a lot less skill to bake a cake than it does to, say, redesign a submarine for the Australian Army.

But tell me - which would you rather have? Me? My money's (what little of it there is) on the cake. With extra icing, thanks.


Today at work I had a bit of a sook (a woe-is-me complaint) to a workmate about this whole money thing. She looked at me, with a somewhat bemused expression on her face, and said, "Um, yeah, but Michelle? You're a *MUM* to triplets and a *WIFE* and a *STUDENT* and you run a *HOME*. Did you somehow forget that all of those have value too?"

The sad thing is that YES, actually, I did.

1 comment:

Brilynn said...

It sounds as though you've done more in the past year than I have in the past 20!

Thanks for the fondant tips, I may have to hit you up for some more next time I get brave enough to tackle a new cake!