GUEST BLOGGER: REBECCA
Country-Fried Mama is a transplanted Yankee raising two girls in the deep, deep, DEEP South. Visit her blog at www.countryfriedmama.com and follow her on Twitter @countryfried.
When my husband first went back to work after an unfortunate ankle incident, my girls and I ferried him there so he wouldn’t get busted for driving under the influence of narcotics.
My daughter, Miss D., has since been asking lots of questions about what her dad does in that big building, and she recently asked me what my job is.
“I’m a mommy and a teacher,” I said.
“No, you’re just a mommy,” said Miss D.
I sighed, counted to five, and tried not to freak out.
Some context: I never considered myself the stay-at-home type. Before Miss D. was born, my husband and I both assumed I would go back to work. I don’t remember even discussing other possibilities. But once my maternity leave ended and I went back to my job as a high school English teacher, both my husband and I found that leaving Miss D. at daycare everyday was painful.
I started to feel desperate about her being there. It was a really wonderful daycare, but all I could think about every day was that I was spending my time with other people’s children instead of my own sweet baby. I felt like I was doing a crummy job as a teacher and a crummy job as a mommy. I was beyond relieved when my husband got a job in a more affordable part of the country and I could plunge into mommyhood full time.
I am still relieved. I would not trade being at home with my girls for anything, and yet…the world seems very small on some days.
So when Miss D. said, “you’re just a mommy,” I felt a little sick. When I had to leave her each day to work, I soothed my guilt with the idea that at least she would grow up knowing that mommies have important careers, too. I still want her to know that.
So I tried to explain that the laptop permanently attached to my body is not just for online mah-jongg, which she is inexplicably interested in. “I teach classes on the computer,” I told her. “When you sleep, I’m a teacher.”
“No,” said Miss D., who gets her stubborn streak from me. “You’re just a mommy.”
I’m guessing that anyone who reads this knows there should be no “just” in front of “mommy.” Being a mommy is important. I know that. I care far more about the measurable outcomes of my performance as Mommy than I ever did for any job outside my house. That’s the big picture.
The little picture is that my peanut-butter-sandwich-making, laundry-folding, spit-up-cleaning, Little-Einsteins-watching days are not always fulfilling and I fear my brain might be turning to mush.
I was on my hands and knees under the kitchen table yesterday scrubbing my baseboards, an activity I don’t recall ever performing when I worked full-time, when I had an almost uncontrollable urge to start screaming.
“I have a Master’s degree!” I wanted to yell, but I didn’t want to scare the baby.
I am not housebound. I go to playgroup. I go to book club. I go to the grocery store more often than I would like. But sometimes, my world seems uncomfortably small. Is it shrinking?
Someone should alert Al Gore.