Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why We Do What We Do

"We want the kids to know why Daddy goes to work. He earns money so we can have food and a car and lights."

This is the tangent we've gone off on at my book club one evening. Three of us are stay-at-homers. Two of us are teachers. One of those two isn't comfortable with this discussion.
Psst! It's me. 
I don't like this.
I love my (grown-up, book-clubbing) girls, and our somewhat varied points of view.  And I agree with this concept. Sort of.  We should impress upon our kids why Daddy has to be away from us all day (to earn money), and that life (from your TV shows to your sneaks to your dinosaur-shaped nuggets) is not free.  My "Um, yeah, but NO!" reaction, which I don't voice that night because I already know I'll whine about it in blogworld, isn't because I disagree. Heck yeah, kids should learn this, when they're old enough. Miss M could use a dose of this medicine, since she either thinks the family dining out budget is infinite, or that the diner is free.
BUT... you know me and where I'm going here...

WHY's it gotta be DADDY who we're appreciating? It's too patriarchal for me - oh aren't we all so grateful to Daddy, our benevolent caretaker, for providing for us? Yes, I know that's not how it's meant. But it runs the giant risk of putting Daddy on a pedestal where he is unreachable for things like cleaning up puke and getting up with crying babies...and likewise, unapproachable for day to day emotional needs of his babies as they grow. Sorry, there's a bra-burning chick stuck inside me and she was born in the wrong era. Tolerate her and read on.
Most daddies I know are very accessible to their munchkins, whether mommy also works out of the home, or not. And by the way: if you're a full-time stay-at-homer, oh my gawd do you work, too.
Heh. Dig the Mom Jeans. I'd hike mine that high her her place, too, for fear they'd fall down.

Tacked onto the definitely necessary educational speech about Happy Meals costing money should be the knowledge that Mommy cares for you all day, ties your shoes, taxis you around endlessly, and by gum that's freakin' draining a service for which a lot of people pay a lot of money.

Coming in the same deluge of reality should be an understanding that, no matter what your situation, both parents work, assuming you've got two parents in your house. If you don't, you are elevated to super-human status in my eyes. Seriously. How are you not an alco/coffee-holic? If you work outside the home, your children are obviously aware that you're disappearing to somewhere all day too. Yes, you earn the bread and bring home the bacon too. BUT...

This brings my crazytrain of thought into the next station:

This is not why I go to work.

Ok, it is.  And if we had planned our lives so it would be financially feasible for hubby could take the next 10 years off his career and stay home with our girls, he would.
I wouldn't. But we already knew all that.

I'm hoping I find a way to impress upon my girls the value of having something in your life that brings you joy. A fervent wish of mine is that M and E have the drive and talent to go get careers (not jobs) that they like to do. And if their work doesn't spark their inner flame? I hope their job allows them the resource of time and money needed to incorporate something else in their lives that says "fulfillment".
OUTSIDE the home.

Not that I want them to think that family and home life isn't quite enough.
Many times it isn't, for me, but I love them no less that a parent who chooses to stay home. Home is key. It's your your base, your tonic chord, your stable running board pointed toward all that's out there in the big, big world.
Even this school year, in new and (shall we politely say) different situation, I still get to go do something every day that brings me joy.
And I get to play my horn - this is my thing that I've taken back from that crazy-busy-mommy world that puts an end to all pursuits of your own - and getting it back is so good. It takes time away from my family, some times, but it's mine.
AND, hello, I also write this nonsense when I have time. Which is next to never, clearly. But it makes me feel good.
And it has nothing to do with money, bills, or having the money to pay for a candybar at the checkout counter.

I know life doesn't allow everybody a job they love. But you can want more or your kids; I hope so much them to get to take it a step further. I'm sure most people do. But I just wanted it sorted out and said.

My girls: Your job, or your hobby after your job, the reason you're away or practicing, or bent over the computer, or whatever, shouldn't be just about the money. Yes, life costs money, but life itself can be enriched by what you do while you're earning it.

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