"So Mom, when are you going to get a real job?"
The question came out of nowhere for me. But, knowing Judson, I bet he has been wondering this for a while. Comparing my life with other people, other Moms. Judson doesn't remember the years when he was so small that I HAD to work outside the home. He doesn't remember bring up at 5:30 a.m. to breastfeed him, get ready, get him ready, 45 minute commute one way, drop-off at daycare all to be at the middle school by 7:30. To which, there were so many mornings I had a crisis waiting for me at my office door. Back then Andy was in his residency years and cutting back on my hours as a social worker wasn't even an option. I carried the weight of the health insurance and much needed income. Of course, this is the story for many, many people, not new at all.
I found myself in a new position... wanting to explain myself to him. It was the first time I wanted Judson to be PROUD of me and it was for something exterior.
When you think about it, his frame of reference is that his dad is a doctor, a profession that is greatly respected and admired. In our culture people are impressed when they hear that....that is just a fact. They aren't impressed when you say your Mom is.....a Mom. When your Mom doesn't have a "real job". It is so very much apart of our culture to place value on people in that way, and it starts young without this Mom even really being aware of it until he posed the question.
There was a time I wanted so badly to be a social worker. To help others help themselves. My ultimate dream job was to be a school social worker. I worked so very hard to finish my Master's in Social Work and find a job as a school social worker. However, after Judson was born I wanted none of it. Going back to work when Judson was 12 weeks old felt like torture to me. I hated everything about it. It was a real emotional struggle to hand Judson over to the daycare caregiver. Would they know his needs, his cries...and they couldn't nurse him. To top it off they also dumped out bottles of my milk that first week because it had separated in the fridge. That hit me so hard. All that liquid gold and time pumping, preparing for my child to be thrown away from me down the drain. It hit me hard back then. I can still feel it. That is when I really knew where I wanted to be.
Eventually, the day came when I was able to say good-bye to working as a social worker. I was so ready to say good-bye. While I know I was a great social worker and I did help many students and families during those early years of motherhood, it wasn't what my heart and soul desired any longer. When "we" finally finished residency years, it was a relief to be able to focus on motherhood, especially with the demands of Andy's career.
There are days I miss the pay check in my name, the reward of completion of a task or seeing a student or family create positive change in their lives. At times I miss feeling like a professional....to think people actually use to listen to my opinions, they wanted to know what I thought about a student, family situation or crisis. But it is also that very pressure that I am glad to let go of.
My kids may not always listen, and they may not think I know anything about anything outside of motherhood right now....but I know I do. I know that I am planting seeds, nurturing them like no one else can and managing the everyday lives of our family because I want to. Right now that is exactly where I am, where I want to be "real job or not" it is the most important role I will ever have. This also made me wonder is it a job only if you are paid for it? I don't know that that is true....I think the definition of job is dedicating yourself to a passion, a calling, but it can also be dedicating yourself to a task to be able to support yourself. Perhaps there are many ways to define it, but in my mind it is something you are responsible for, you hopefully love and need to do for whatever emotional or physical reason. Ultimately, having the choice to be a stay-at-home mother is one of the gifts in my life I am most grateful for. That choice alone, which isn't for everyone. It is is a privilege to be able to be a Mom, to guide a soul through this world, whether you work outside the home or not...it is the REALEST most important job in the world.
So, how did I answer Judson's question, "So Mom, when are you going to get a real job?"
me answering in paraphrase-
"A real job? (with a surprised giggle) Well, I do have a job, it is the most important job in the world. Taking care of all of you, feeding you, teaching you right and wrong.... all the things I do. I am not paid for it, but it is what I want to be doing. I use to work as a school social worker (and explained that role a bit) before you were born and when you were little...but now Daddy is able to make enough money so I don't have to and can be a full-time Mommy. Isn't that lucky?"
Judson, "Yep. When is the pizza getting here?"
Here is my little questioner....Judson-you always get me thinking.
How I love you and all of your many, many questions!