He was having so much fun in the little kiddie pool that I found at my local Goodwill (thrift store and in a brand new packaged condition no less!) that I desperately wanted the recognition and a “Hooray Mommy” moment.
I asked, “J..are you having fun?”
“Yay!!”he said excitedly.
“You know, Mommy bought you that pool!” I said, also very excitedly but found myself continuing to say, “…with daddy’s money” quietly.
It has been over a year since I became a full-time and exclusive stay-at-home-mom and I have to admit the struggle with living that life choice is much less now than it was when I first started out last August.
For one, I have really come to appreciate spending time with TJ. As regular readers know, I still have many a stressful times and moments of bad mothering with him but I try really hard to be the kind of mom he and Baby E deserve. Everyday.
Also, I love how he depends on me for so many things and how I can be there for his many life moments including the time he independently climbed the stairs and then slid down a giant slide all by himself at our local zoo. Or that I can wrap him in my arms and wipe his tears or cuddle with him at nap time for as long as I want or fall asleep right next to him breathing his gentle breath on me.
I am also grateful that I am not stressed with employed work in raising Baby E. Being pulled in multiple directions during this phase of J’s early months, I was not a happy mommy and would get extremely irritated at the slightest provocation, with or without cause. The advantage of being a SAHM now is that Baby E gets a calmer and far far less stressed mom.
I don’t get much of it but when I do, I like that I have the freedom to work on things that I enjoy outside of professional pursuits. Given that in academia, you still do things you love and I really, really love/d my work as a researcher and teacher, I appreciate the fact that I am able to now focus on other interests like blogging. I still can’t do much of anything else like reading or quilting but one day the kids will grow up and I’ll have time for everything I need read and stitched.
However, the number one thing that bothered me when I started out on my SAHM journey was the lack of financial contribution to my household. I never earned as much as Aaron for a number of reasons like being in academia and well…not sure if being a woman necessarily influences pay inequality in my profession. Regardless, I made a substantial amount of money that I was proud to bring home and raise our collective standard of living, save for a rainy day, the children’s college fund, pay toward mortgage, pay the nanny, gifts for the family, and so on…the things I could and would do, unquestioned.
Aaron, to his credit, still never questions why and how I spend “his” money and only when asked will he share what he thinks of my spending choices. And, he deplores that I even call it his money. That’s just him being him and he is amazing.
As a feminist and as a gender and organizational communication scholar (not being a snob here – scholar is the default term for someone who studies and does research in a specific area), and as a person who simply knows better, I know my self-loathing over not bringing in any money is being a hypocrite to what I used to espouse in my classroom.
As I discussed the contributions of housewives, SAHMs, SAHDs, and others not engaged in societally approved “real jobs” make with my graduate and undergraduate students, I never once thought that, that discussion would be about me one day. Funny how such things turn hazy when the mirror is turned toward oneself.
All of which makes me think, should I be offered another professorial job one day, I will have a much more honest and realistic appreciation for all the “non-real” jobs out here. What I hitherto only spoke from the confident knowledge and expertise of a researcher, and basically not being a sexist jerk, I will be speaking from an experienced and authentic place having lived the quandary and internal struggles of a homemaker/housewife/SAHM/”non-real” job worker.
The assertive and emphatic voice of a professor that professed no one is just anything and certainly never just a housewife, will be twice as genuine as I will have actually been there, done that, and still there, in every way to be able to give my future students a much clearer picture.