Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A new look at the old mommy wars

Take a deep breath if you’re in an argumentative mood. Because I’m going to say something that could possibly irritate you, but it’s not the point of the post, so move past it. Ready?

Working moms are often envious of stay-at-home moms.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been home with my kids for nine and a half years, and I’ve gotten an earful from working moms. “You’re lucky” or “I’m jealous” or one (very, very successful) woman saying “Do you really stay at home and bake cupcakes all day?” while her (equally successful) sister-in-law said, “Don’t listen to her. There’s a part of every mother that wishes she was at home with her kids, regardless of why she isn’t.”

So there you go. That’s my research. I know I’m generalizing, but people really did say those things to me.

But, and now we get closer to the point of the post, the tables have turned.

It started when Jack went to kindergarten. I’d run into Starbucks and look enviously at the barista, thinking, “Wow. She comes to work every day. People say ‘good job’ all day long. She gets a paycheck.” Then I’d yell “Thanks!” to the garbage guys and think, “Lucky ducks are appreciated for what they do.” And suddenly the “Can’t do that; I’ve got to work” from my friends sounded more mocking than envious. I got jealous of the utility workers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, consultants, you name it, I wanted their job.

There’s something really satisfying about working. There’s something to be said for your time being valued; your skills being appreciated. There’s something validating about a paycheck.

And you know what? Tons of my stay-at-home friends agree. Your youngest goes to kindergarten and you have six long hours to yourself and you want a job. You crave a job.

So now WE are insanely jealous of the working moms. Those are suddenly the lucky ones.

Now, lest you misunderstand me, I don’t want to be thrust into some stressful corporate job again. I did that. But now, I’m a mother. That’s my main job. Obviously one could argue that, since I really love to write, that should be my secondary job. While getting paid to write is actually my dream, at the moment, no one is really showering me with dollar bills for every blog post, so I can’t really count that as a job.

So there I was, feeling like I wanted a job, but just a little job. And then someone offered me a job – just a little job. It’s helping at a preschool two mornings a week. But I have to get dressed and put on makeup (you know how discerning four-year-olds can be) and be somewhere, on time, and work, and then get paid.

Most people think I’m crazy. Whit, who simply adores the idea of me making money, said, surprisingly, “You’re not that good with kids. Stick to the writing gig.” Another friend said, “I liked it better when you could go to lunch with me.” Still another said, “WHY??”

Now you, my faithful blog readers, understand why.

I might love it. For all the reasons I’ve listed. And I might love playing in the mud and finger painting and the little chairs that are too little for my big butt.

Or I might hate it. All that validating and being appreciated and getting paid might just end up being a gigantic pain in the ass. I might realize that I’m really glad my kids aren’t preschool age any more, or that women are catty everywhere and I don’t like my coworkers, or that I’m totally beyond snotty noses and wet pants. Or that little jobs correspond to little paychecks and they’re not quite as valuable as I once thought.

Maybe. But part of this ongoing midlife crisis is that I’m going to try everything; throw it all up on a wall and see what sticks.

Today? Mom. Tomorrow? Preschool aide extraordinaire.

I’ll report back.

No comments:

Post a Comment