The mother of one of Bama's classmates asked if I, you know, worked. As she asked, and as I answered, a parallel conversation played in my head. Even as I said, "No, I am home with my children," the other me said in my head, yes, I have a job, my children are my work.
Like many stay at home and working mothers I struggle with identity -- who am I, what I am doing. Women who work say, rightly, working sets a strong example for their children of women creating, doing, contributing. Women who stay home say, rightly, there is no more important job than raising a child. Both paths are valid, neither is better than the other. We have to do what works for our own families financially, emotionally, socially.
My patter has been that I was a teacher but was on leave with Bama when we decided to move. We were trying to get pregnant (and did) and I resigned to create a spot at the high school where I taught just as pink slips were going out to temporary teachers. That's a truth.
But the other truth is that I always wanted to be able to stay home with my children. I thought there was something powerful in making lunch, working on projects, picking them up and dropping them off at school when the time came. It was not an easy decision to make for financial reasons. It was not easy to walk away from a cornerstone of my identity. I was an educator, I hate (!) grading essays, but I love teaching and being with students. It is powerful to find a book that lights a teenager's fire. A book that they ask to keep and read over and over. I walked away.
I work. I get up with our children and make breakfast most mornings. It could be oatmeal or pancakes (both from scratch, thanks for asking). It might be an omelette. It might be yogurt with honey. We get dressed. We go to the park, we go to the library, we go to the aquarium, we go to the museum, we hang out and fold laundry. We read books. We color. We collect leaves. We sing songs. Bama is learning to count, Rabbit can help in the kitchen (and asks for help very clearly: "I need help"). These days, Rabbit and I take Bama to school, then head out for our morning before home for an early nap. We pick Bama up again in the afternoon. Yesterday, on the way home from the subway station, they picked up leaves (a bucketful) to create a "fire flower" project. Bama identified all the leaves they found.
We make dinner most nights (we cheat and order sometimes), prep lunch and snacks for the next day. Laundry, garbage, dishes. I do the mundane that all parents do, whether they go to an office or to the playground. There's nothing unique in that.
Every day, I tell Bama and Rabbit their job is to Learn and Play and Grow. Part of my job is to facilitate that throughout the day.
I have a job. I am raising my children. No more equivicating. I have a job.