I realized how hard staying home is when I went back to work

By  | October 3, 2015 |  Comments | Filed under: Feminism, Werking Mom

I was reluctant to go back to work after being home for eight years. I was scared to leave my comfy four walls and afraid the world out there had changed too much in the years I had been home. The last time I punched a time clock, My Space was the rage there was no Pinterest to tell me how to dress myself. What if all the newfangled gadgets outpaced me? What if I was out of fashion? What if the baby grew boobs and moved out while I was gone for the day?!

Oh, I have news. Working is f’ing fantastic.

Going back to the grind full-time has its logistical puzzles, sure, and there are Many Things To Learn. Industry-specific software! The politics of the break room creamer! However, suiting up at 8:00 AM five days a week to teeter into a financial institution on tiny heels actually made me realize how hard staying home is. That’s right. Working is a cake walk compared to staying home with three kids.

Here was my day at the office today: I zipped around in my new tiny car (no car seats! No one demanding snacks on the freeway! No censoring explicit lyrics on Sirius Hip Hop Nation!). I wore dangly jewelry that zero people chewed on. I sat in a chair. No schlepping. No screaming. No dragging 100 pounds of children through Target as my peers judge me on a job I do 24 hours a day for no pay. In fact, in the office, everyone said, “great job!” and “thank you!” if I did any small favor at all. I was literally praised for finding my way back from the bathroom. “It’s a maze in here, you know!”

Not one person threw their body onto the floor in disapproval of me. No one kicked me, not even on accident. I didn’t have to settle one, single fight, unless you count the time I took my co-worker’s side when she told me a juicy story about a spat with her frenemy. The others around me and I dropped F-bombs with abandon. I ate hot food in a restaurant and did not: clean a mess, apologize for the mess, abandon my food to take someone potty, try to convince anyone that a stalk of broccoli is a tree and they are a tree-eating giant, threaten time-out if anyone makes another noise, cry. Speaking of noises, not one person today did anything repetitive or shrill.

People keep wanting to know how the job is. It’s fine! It’s great. It’s jobby. I don’t know, it’s work and I’ll do it. Now that I’m out of the house 9 hours a day without anyone demanding I make the right kind of macaroni (the blue kind, not the red kind, if it’s the red kind or even looks like it might be the red kind in any way, a dog-whistle pitched chorus breaks out singing I HATE THIS! I HATE THIS! I HATE THIS!) the job could be anything. If someone employed me to shovel coal or wipe strange anuses, I’d probably do it. I love my new job but they could honestly put me on raw egg chewing duty and I’d stick around until 5:00.

Then I come home to the nanny. The poor, poor nanny. She has the floor mopped, the dishes done, the kids in a row and homework completed. She checked the folders. I see in her eyes she’s been mistreated by my hellion spawn, who are, by the way, fairly polite as far as children go. I see that put-upon woman working up a smile for me. I know. I know, friend, believe me I know. I know she does her best and the breaks are few and far between. I know my kids hate all types of food and form dust balls of anger when they sit too close to one another like electron clouds. I know what I can afford to pay her pales in comparison to what she is worth and yet, I did the job for free for eight years myself. (I was paid in DNA replication.)

The nanny’s hair is neatly braided, whereas mine was always in a clump on the side of my head. I wonder how she manages reading the same 12-word book for three hours straight or how she settles on a lunch everyone agrees to eat. I hand over her paycheck with glee and sinking fear she will run away from us – that I will have to stop going to my fluorescent-lit oasis and stay home again. I can’t do it.

Is it a wonder anyone can do it?

I was telling a friend about our nanny situation and she said she needed a nanny for herself. She wanted snacks and meals and to have her laundry done. I’d never dream of asking my nanny to make my own bed. But isn’t that what’s expected of the American stay-at-home-mother? The caretaker to all, meal-maker, toilet-cleaner, boo-boo-kisser, bather, dish-doer, lover, confidant, pillow-fluffer, cruise-director, pretty girl, fashionista, spiritual coordinator, driver, room parent, counselor, maid, trash collector, tutor. Then, not only do you get paid absolutely nothing, but people see your life as a luxury. You get to “sit on your ass all day”. Sure, your husband bought a life insurance policy that covers enough to hire three nannies working in shifts in order to replace the actual work you do in the off chance of your death, but your life is still somehow value-less in the eyes of society. Think about that. To replace all the work a stay-at-home-parent does it would require hiring a staff. Yet . . . housewives are spoiled brats whom everyone envies for some reason.

Well guess who gets to sit on her ass all day now? ME. A working mom. And I aint’ trading.

Word to your mother (and your nanny).

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 9.05.38 PM

Office selfie! Guess who was not being screamed at at the time of this photo?!

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