“I don’t work.” WHAT ARE YOU SAYING, you don’t work? Are you SERIOUS? “Well, I mean, I’m just a mom.” JUST? Get with it, stupid! All those articles you’ve read, all those other moms you’ve counseled over coffee at playdates, all the times you lifted up others – you just undid it all!
I made excuses. “Well, my husband’s job is very demanding and I have to be completely flexible to be there for the kids because his job makes him unreliable.” Wow – way to throw him under the bus like that. “I used to work, but it was too hard to keep up with everything, so I quit, and I didn’t like it well enough to go back to it when the kids were in school.” You are a wimp and a spoiled brat. “I went to school to become a psychology professor, but I’d have to go back and get my PhD, and that’s not going to happen.” Lazy.
Maybe I froze because I don’t get asked that question anymore. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been feeling well and my guard was down. Or maybe I had a weak moment and for unknown reasons, wanted to avoid the truth.
But nothing I said was a lie. My husband’s job is demanding. I didn’t like my old job that much. I have no connection to academia anymore. It’s true, I’m spoiled - some days I do more bonbon eating than anything else. In addition, appropriating a “mom” job like public school aide, lunch lady, even substitute teacher holds no interest for me. Spending my days teaching other people’s children? Not for me. Selling jewelry, purses, or beauty products – jobs made for moms by moms – also is not really my thing.
The truth is – I don’t want another job. This one is enough. It’s unpaid, thankless, and humble, but this is what I do. I have no plans to do anything else. My kids are still at home, and therefore, so I will be. I could do any number of other things, but my life was constructed for this very thing.
Am I worried that I’ve been “unemployed” for so long? Not really. I might tell people that I am because it’s probably the right thing to say, that I’m aware I might be hindering my chances at later real contribution to society, but secretly, I don’t care.
I don’t care that I haven’t had a real job in almost ten years and that I don’t earn a steady paycheck, not even that I rely on my unreliable husband for food, clothing, and shelter. Turns out he is more reliable than I claim.
I care that my kids are home with me in the summer, that I can go to the grocery store every day at ten o’clock if I want to, that I can waste a day reading or internetting or napping or watching TV and there are no repercussions more severe than the dust collects on all the furniture for yet another day.
I care that my family depends on me to hold them all together. Sure, I could do that even if I was paid to do something else.
But I don’t do anything else. This is it.
And for me, it’s enough. I guess I just need more practice saying it.
|One day in first grade, my son's teacher gave each child |
the choice of one book to bring home and keep.
This was his selection.