Spending the day in a snowy Drakensberg a few years back
I recall a good friend of both Chris and myself (who I see once a year, when she takes her leave and comes back to South Africa - my dear friend, I do miss you so) saying to me a few years back that her mother had questioned her about what I do on a day-to-day basis to validate my existence - I vaguely remember telling her something along the lines of that I look after Chris, the hounds and make sure that everything is running smoothly around the house. Which is completely and undeniably true.
I also remember feeling slightly annoyed by that statement / question - that somehow working a regular 9 - 5 job in some way 'validates one's existence'. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't annoyed with my friend nor her mother - whom I adore just as much as I do my friend - it's a question / statement that, fortunately, doesn't get asked or stated anymore as the years have gone by but it is annoying nonetheless. Why do we - or any couple for that matter - have to explain the inner workings of our relationship? Or to justify it? Luckily those close to us have come to realise that both Chris and I support each other wholeheartedly - just not in the conventional (whatever that may mean?) way.
It's not as if I haven't worked before, if anything I am a good worker. I remember when I was working and studying to become a high school educator, I was studying full-time through UNISA and working a 3/4 teaching timetable, 5 days a week - the last year, before I became disillusioned (and finally chose to leave the field) I was in charge of the Grade 8 English department. Essentially I was doing all the prep work for the entire grade. It was exhausting.
Donating all the supplies that we managed to accumulate from the various regions that Chris was GM of in Johannesburg to aid the owners of the dog kennel that the hounds regularly stayed at when they took in over 30 abused Greyhounds on behalf of the SPCA last year.
Then I did a complete u-turn and found myself managing the front office of an Architect firm - I had never answered a phone for a living prior to this - but I excelled and was, by the time I left a few years later, in charge of the front office, assisted in the creditors and admin department and was the PA to both the partners of the firm.
Then I was involved in the accident that put me out of commission for a year. When you can't use one of your arms - it limits what you can do. So Chris and I managed on one salary and we made it work. I was traumatised by the accident and went for counselling - we then added Max, Cleo and shortly after that Jessie to the family. So in short, by the time I was physically able to work we had a pack of dogs that needed constant attention - I still maintain to this day that our Jack Russell's are so chilled because they weren't left alone during their formative years.
At Wimpy on the Durban Promenade, many moons ago!
Before we started our company, Chris worked for a big corporation that required him to move from region to region, as and when they needed him, so with me not working it made it easier to follow his rise up the ranks - which I totally supported - we wouldn't be here today if he had not taken those opportunities and ran with them.
Late 2014 I found myself being offered a position as a PA to a tax practitioner - by this stage I hadn't worked for at least 2 years - thoughts of 'Can I actually do this?' ran circles around my mind but I gave it a go and enjoyed it, there were days that I was like 'I can't do this!', 'I'm exhausted!' but one gets on with it. Then we started the company and because of Chris' previous employment contract, we weren't allowed to operate within a certain radius of where he was previously employed - so we headed back to the East Coast - I handed in my resignation to a very sad ex-boss but I did it because Chris needed me, I could have easily stayed on in our home in Johannesburg with the hounds whilst Chris sorted business out down here but it has never worked like that with the two of us. We're in it together.
A couple of months later, my ex-boss contacted me and asked if I would be willing to return back to Johannesburg and work for him again, with him giving me a certain amount of leverage to negotiate a deal that suited me too - I toyed with the idea, I turned him down, he approached me again and I have sort of left it there. As exciting as it would be be, my place is here - with my partner in life and best friend, Chris. Some may see it as me halting myself to put Chris first and to a certain degree that may be true but I believe that Chris wouldn't be where he is now without my support and encouragement driving him - I wonder if he would agree with that statement? He probably would. I am not saying it has been plain sailing all the way, I'm a wilful Aries but so is Chris!
At an award evening in Cape Town, where we met Ryk Neethling.
It is so easy to question a relationship or partnership that doesn't quite fit the mould - where outwardly it appears as if one is giving more than the other - you may be pleasantly surprised to find out that all is not what it appears and that sometimes in order for one partner to give, the other needs to sacrifice.
Until next time,