Wednesday, January 27, 2010
In the vein of eating my words when I get older….
So three days ago my friend Keturah asked me if I was looking forward to going back to work. I said no. She asked me if when I thought about I cried. I giggled, shrugged, and said no, again. I’m not that silly, please.
Today I was putting Emma down for her nap, my husband discovered that if you leave your hand on her belly for a few moments she stops wiggling and settles into a deeper sleep. So I was paused over her sweet face with my hand across her belly and I started crying. I didn’t want to leave her. I don’t want to go to work.
Glarg, burble, humble pie tastes great…
A few years ago I would’ve eschewed the stay-at-home mom gig. Who does that? That is a cultural construct created to keep women in the home. Ah, from the mouths of babes.
Munch, chew, swallow, this one tastes like lingonberries or, ‘man I was full of crap’ berries…
Here’s what I do think. I think that to say the only way to raise your children is to have the mother stay at home with the baby and not work is folly. I think to say that no woman should stay at home is also folly.
In past times we would have been surrounded by family. In many cultures grandma lives in the family, or you live next to your sister, or in a family compound. You are always surrounded by people to help you; baby-sitters, extra cooks, someone to talk to, etc. Now we live in single family homes with no one around to support you. You are on your own. I know why women get post-partum depression, yes, there are hormones involved, you are all by yourself, exhausted, your body hurts, and you are left to care for a small creature that only takes. (At least for the first few weeks of life) Added to which most women in our generation have never cared for a newborn or seen a birth, whereas in previous times we would have been present at births and probably rocked a few babies that belonged to Aunts or our Mothers.
Also back in the day when most of us were subsistence farmers all our work would’ve been in the home, doing laundry, making cheese, skimming cream, beating rugs. That’s how we lived, we made our own food. Now we work in offices and buy our food from someone else who grows and makes it. Since you can’t take your baby to most offices we are left with a dilemma, whereas before the child would’ve been right there with you, now if you are to work your baby can’t go. So what’s a modern woman to do? Day care. Unfortunately most of us find our hands tied when it comes to the much maligned day care, once we do the math we find out that mom’s salary just covers the cost of day care. Day care has also been blacklisted as bad for children; studies have been done that show that it can be good for children. Increases test scores, improves social skills, provides a break for mom. Might be better than the kid staying home with a mom who doesn’t want to be home in the first place.
So we’ve gotten ourselves into quite the pickle. After years of searching and praying about my occupation I determined what I’ve known all along, I am an artist and apparently not so bad at writing, these things can be done from the home. I can satisfy my occupational needs and stay at home to wrangle children. Most people are not so lucky.
Unfortunately right now we live in Kenya and my teaching job provides income and health insurance. So this coming Monday my blissful maternity leave is over and it’s off to work I go. Hi ho hi ho hi ho..?
One moment while I’m playing with her or rocking her to sleep I think, ‘I don’t want to work. I don’t want to leave her…’ The next moment while she’s napping and I’m thinking, ‘I’m bored, what do I do with myself now?’ I start to think it might be a good thing for me to go back to work. Argh. Well, I guess I’ll find out on Monday.