"So you work, then?"

I met a new neighborhood mom the other day. She just moved into a house around the corner and one of my neighbors invited her and her kids to a birthday party.

She and I were chatting, that initial how old are your kids, are they in school/preschool conversation, and I told her that Z is in first grade and E is in preschool five mornings a week. She looked at me, smiled and said So you work, then?



And then I think I mumbled something about volunteering a bunch and planning on working at some point in the future and then I may have twitched and drooled just a bit before elegantly steering the conversation away to HEY LOOK A BUNNY.

It was one of those conversations that make me cringe now thinking about it. And I've been replaying it in my mind since then, only this time I smile confidently and say No and IT'S FANSTASTIC! I'm able to have some alone time, to exercise and bake and sew Halloween costumes and grocery shop without small children and volunteer for several causes I care about and I'm really enjoying it!

Because truly that's how I feel. I'm really starting to enjoy our lives right now. I'm grateful for where we are in our lives, and happily busy and fulfilled with a small dose of volunteer work.

So why couldn't I say that to this other mom?

While presumptive, I don't think she meant her question to be judgmental. She is home with two younger kids and I'm guessing she is thinking the same thing I thought when I had a baby and a preschooler: as soon as they are both in school and don't need me so much, I will go back to work. When my kids were her kids' ages, I truly couldn't fathom what I would do at home all day while older kids were off at school.


Our family's schedules, the running of our entire household, has been built on the presumption that I will be at home in the capacity that I am now. So much would have to change if I were to get a job that it boggles the mind.

Of course, it would be possible. But me working would be a huge change and none of us in our family want to make that change right now so here we are. 

I like being home to pick up Z from the bus stop, to hear her talk about her day on the walk home from school is to get an increasingly rare window into her world. I like having lunch with E, all by ourselves, with lots of time to chat and munch and cuddle and chat some more.

The truth is they still need me. A lot. Their needs are different now. But those needs are many and various and true.

My kids are in school and I'm still at home. 

Say it loud, say it proud.


grammalouie said...

Remember that t-shirt I used to have that said "Every Mother is a Working Mother"?
Working at home caring for children, a partner, and a household is THE most important work.
Work to be proud of!

Sas said...

A) practice that speech you came up with after the fact so that next time you can sing it, sister, and B) I am so making Kamran read this post :). Love you!

KG said...

THANK GOD you are treading this road before me, and writing so eloquently about it. "Our family's schedules, the running of our entire household, has been built on the presumption that I will be at home in the capacity that I am now. So much would have to change if I were to get a job that it boggles the mind." Amen.

twisterfish said...

Now please tell me you won't start saying "when they get to high school I'll go back to work", okay? :)

My favorite answer to that "so, do you work" question is "define work". Their answer helps determine how I respond... usually with a smile and variation of "yes, I have children".

shannon said...

Well said! I just had this conversation with a friend the other day who was feeling fed up with justifying her existence at home while the kids were at school. What I like to think, is that we Mom's tend to project onto others the questions we are struggling with most in our own hearts/heads, so in all likelihood, her comment to you was probably about her trying to figure out what's ahead of her, what other moms so, what's "expected" and what's normal. So glad to hear your feelings and thoughts on this as I contemplate what to do what my youngest enters preschool next year. I so want to stay at home, but all along my husband (and I) have both just assumed I'd be "going back to work" (HA!) when the kids start school. Oh how life changes our minds so dramatically sometimes! As always, thanks so much for sharing.

Gina said...

As you probably know I work (outside of the home) part-time (20 hours per week) and everyone assumes that as soon as all of my kids are older I will go back to work full-time. HA! My goal in life now is basically to minimize my outside of the home work in perpetuity! I too, find that I love so much about being home. The impromptu deep conversations with the kids, the blissful quiet of being in a house of napping children, the ability to shop in the middle of the week, the time and energy to really cook.

Your point about "our family's schedules..." is so important too. It is astonishing to me how poorly the school system (both public and private) are set up for two working parent or single-parent households. Life flows so much easier with one parent at home. The logistics of working and having kids in school is one of my biggest life stresses.

And I always think of the perfect thing to say after the moment has passed...

Ann Wyse said...

Sometimes I think about my current third pregnancy as "calculated risk" and sometimes I think about it as a subconscious act to avoid - um - this exact conversation.

For me, motherhood in the last 6 months (without a baby) is so much more enjoyable and so much more fulfilling than ever before - and to add back in a job? Uck! No, thank you - I just got through all that baby-neediness! It just finally got fun! I'm not ready to add a *job*.

(Not that I'm ready to add another baby yet, either. GULP.)

And I'm so glad you're speaking up about this - even if it's here on your blog, and it feels a little late! I know the next time it comes up in conversation you'll be better prepared. Your voice means a lot to all of us who are following behind you.

Jessica said...

This is what I want. THIS. I want to grocery shop and clean the house and pre-cook dinner and pick the kids up from school. I *like* housewifery as long as it's 'what I do' not 'what I have to squeeze in after work'.

Blog Designed by: NW Designs