This whole month has been about that slow emerging from underneath the avalanche of stuff that was Fall/January. It’s the 16th. I’m out from under the revision and the taxes. All that’s left are the maintenance tasks I let slide over the last two weeks while I was focusing on writing. Little things like, you know, the January accounting. So yay.

One of my goals over the next few weeks is to catch up on all that blogging I didn’t do over the last five months.

Here is one of those thoughts:

Drew and I are really overt about our roles and responsibilities. This isn’t because we’re super rigid in our gender roles–quite the opposite. Neither of us is particularly interested in gender norms, which means we don’t have as many fundamental assumptions to fall back on in terms of who does what.

So we have lists. I’ve posted about them before. Drew paints eight hour days. I do the photography, and now the accounting. I direct the shipping. Drew carries out the rest of the shipping when I inform him I’m too busy. (That informing part is a role in disguise. It’s small but crucial.) We cook together one night a week and then spend the week reheating. Right now I do most of the cleaning, since I’m not working eight hour days. Drew has certain jobs that he does though–mostly the ones I hate, like making the bed. (You have no idea how complicated bed making can be. Our sheets aren’t deep enough for our mattress–even though they are a size bigger! how can this be?–and our duvet cover has to be washed and re-settled weekly. It’s a struggle, and currently my most hated chore.)

But I digress.

Roles. Right.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I go play with friends a lot while Drew is working. His days are really structured, which he needs, and mine are not. So I regularly do lunches and things with friends while he is hard at work painting commissions.

And then a week or so ago this occurred to me: one of my roles in our home is community maintenance.

We are each others’ co-workers, so it would be really easy for us to cocoon in and never see anyone else. I’m an introvert, so this possibility is frequently attractive. But the reason we still live in Utah County is the community here. We have so many wonderful friends here. The roots run deep. I want to make sure our communities here continue to thrive, and that we continue to be involved in them.

This involves work. It’s pleasant work, to be sure. It’s not like it’s a hardship to send out "hey, let’s do lunch" emails and then spend afternoons with fabulous people. But it is an investment of time in personal and community relationships. I sometimes feel guilty that I’m not investing more of that time in other important things, like writing, or getting a day job.

But then I remember how important those communities are to us. I don’t think I could handle the instability of our lives without the support of our friends–many of whom are in similar positions in one way or another. Drew needs the support, too. The time I invest in spending time with our friends is important. It becomes more of an important focus the farther we get from graduating and the social environments we had when we were in school.

I don’t usually think of that time so clinically. I love my friends. I want to see them. I know I feel better about the day to day tasks if I take some time away from them to spend time with other people. But realizing that I’m actually helping us achieve our long term goals by playing with my friends–it helps me feel less guilty about leaving Drew to work sometimes.

Because he benefits, too. We do evening stuff with friends constantly–so much so that an evening at home is becoming quite rare. (We have to balance. Nights off are important, too.)

I’m acutely aware that in the future I’m not going to have as much time as I do now. There will be children. There will be increased work load. I’m not going to have as much time as I do now for building community ties.

But hopefully my friends will understand. Hopefully the building of community ties that I’m doing now will sustain us in years when there is less time and energy to go around.

For a great post on building communities, see my brilliant friend Sandra.