In our neck of the woods, Thursday was Take Your Child To Work Day. We didn’t plan for Dylan to go to work with Mike because (1) Mike is crazy busy and (2) we honestly didn’t think Dylan would enjoy it. It’s not that Dylan doesn’t worship the ground his Daddy walks on (he does), but all Mike does is stare at his computer screen all day. He’s a product developer/computer programmer for a financial media company and his days are intense.
In the end it didn’t matter, though, because Dylan caught a stomach bug and stayed home from school sick that day. (So long, perfect attendance!) At Riley’s morning drop-off with Dylan in tow, someone joked, “Is Dylan going to work with you today?” Ha! Get it? I’m a Stay-At-Home-Mama! Ha!
“Yes!” I bantered back. “When we get home I’m going to show him how I fold the laundry.” Ha!
Let me be clear about a few things.
(1) I am not mocking Stay-At-Home Mamas. I am a Stay-At-Home Mama.
(2) The only definition of Stay-At-Home Mama I know is mine. In my house, I do fold the laundry (all the f—king time). I also load and unload the dishwasher (actually, OCD prevents me from allowing anyone else to go near my dishwasher), and I do the bulk of the grocery shopping, mail sorting, kid shuttling, dog walking, whine listening (and wine drinking), sibling refereeing, homework supervising, bath running, and meal preparing. I’m also a writer, a blogger, and a PTO-er. I have an unhealthy relationship with Anthropologie, I can’t stop myself from buying owl tchotchkes, and, very occasionally, when my kids are at school or asleep, I sit on the couch and watch stuff on my DVR while inhaling Boom Chicka Pop popcorn.
(3) This wasn’t some well thought out social experiment to shed light on and validate the tireless work that Stay-At-Home Mamas (and every other kind of Mamas) do day in and day out. That would’ve been a great idea that perhaps might have caught some attention @HuffPostParents or something amazing like that, but in this case, it simply happened because my kid had diarrhea. (Dear God. If The Today Show calls me about this, Dylan will be mortified. Crap. Ha! Why do I always end up talking about poop? Must stop.)
Anywho, I unexpectedly set out to show my Kindergartener with the gurgling, gassy tummy what my job was all about. It was going to be awesome and inspiring and life-changing for both of us!
Truth be told, it was kind of a boring day, especially since Dylan didn’t feel well and needed to be near a bathroom. Don’t get me wrong, I did six bazillion things throughout the day and never sat down once, but if I were asked, “What did you do today?” I probably would’ve said, “Eh, nothing much.”
At one point during the day, I brought up to Dylan that it was Take Your Child To Work Day and that I was showing him what it was like to be a Mommy. He looked at me and said, “Can you turn on the Xbox?”
Charming, right? Actually, his answer spoke volumes.
Dylan doesn’t see me as a person with a job and he doesn’t think about what I do as work. He sees me as the person who’s there to turn on the Xbox (or to tell him to do it all by himself, thank you very much). The person who rubs his tummy when it hurts and sits with him in the bathroom when he’s sick. The person who reminds him to say please and thank you and to wash his hands after he goes to the bathroom. The person who nags him when it’s homework time. The person who reads to him and cooks for him and keeps him safe. The person who occasionally shows up at school to volunteer in his classroom. The person who wakes him gently each morning with a kiss on the cheek. He sees me as his Mama.
Frankly, I don’t think he thinks about what I do at all, because, like the sun rising in the east, I’m just a constant in his life. Perhaps when he’s a little bit older, or if my status on the Spectrum ever changes, he’ll gain some perspective on the matter, including learning about all the different jobs – and dreams and passions and talents and goals – I’ve had (before and after becoming a Mama). But as it stands now, the only person worried about definitions, perceptions, and validation is…me. (And you?)
The next morning, I asked Dylan, “What’s my job?”
He said, “To give me popcorn.” (He really likes popcorn.)
I said, “Really? Don’t you think my job is to take care of you and your brother?”
“Yes,” he said. “And you’re beautiful.”
In that moment, I felt pretty damn good about my job.
Career Day is coming up soon. Maybe I’ll submit a proposal. I have some fantastic “hands-on” challenges for the students, including (1) getting me to stop whining, (2) catching me to put eye drops in my eyes, (3) picking up toys faster than I can dump them out, and (4) making an important appointment on the telephone while I scream in the background.
If you have any other ideas, let me know!
(@HuffPostParents, are you reading?)