I’ve posted several times on my love/hate relationship of the duality of part-time work and part-time “stay at home mom.” In so many ways I have the best of both worlds. I can list the many advantages to my current situation that most others don’t enjoy:
- There are days my van doesn’t leave the garage and I never fight traffic.
- I work a schedule that I submit
- I can throw in a load of laundry between work tasks or run down and grab a pound of meat to thaw for dinner
- I don’t have to remember to pack my lunch each day
- I make an (overly) fair wage for the work that is required of me
- I feel valued and appreciated by my employer
- I see my kids throughout the day rather than just at the end of it
- I have the time to do the bit “extra” that I really appreciate: making my own laundry detergent, homemade meals, cloth diapering, nursing the baby… a lot of the stuff that gets outsourced by working parents.
After reading Radical Homemakers, I found a small flame burning to make my home my vocational center (well, outside of God, but work with me here); I want to take pride in the work I do here each day and see its value. I wanted to return to my roots, take pride in traditional tasks of making a home, like so many of the previous generations of women. While thankful for the women’s liberation movement and it’s freedom to offer me a choice, I wanted to choose making a home over a career.
But unlike the generations of women who have gone on before, I’m walking to the well alone.
With the freedoms to make so many choices regarding work and family and life and home comes the divergence of paths. Whereas the foremothers walked together to do the laundry on the river’s edge, gossiping and chattering, I’m heading to my basement for some solitary confinement with the perm ‘n press. Making a home as vocation isn’t done in community anymore, which really lessens its appeal. I’m discovering (and a majority of people around me have probably known this for a few years) that I’ve got a good deal of extroverted neediness; when denied access to a strong social circle, I begin to wilt away. So taking me out of a workplace while removing me from a community of people I know and love and tying me to the house because it’s naptime hasn’t fared well on my heart.
The whole idea of “it takes a village” has as much to do with the child as it does the village. Parents need others to come alongside while raising children because we don’t have a clue what we’re doing. Mothers need someone to talk about the ins and outs of diaper rashes that won’t go away. We need one another’s presence as validation, or the simple – yet important – tasks of making dinner or mopping floors become tedious rather than a contribution to something beyond ourselves. We need voices beside us through our trite tasks because it confirms how important sorting socks really is. In the absence of those voices, lonely hearts only hear how little the day’s work contributes to anything beyond a clean floor.
I don’t need a new job. I don’t need a shake up of priorities. I don’t even need “another hour in the day” in which to get it all done. For once, the task-management side of my life is fairly balanced. Except for showering, because it’s hard to convince yourself it’s really that important when no one sees how greasy your hair has become. Instead you want to use precious naptime to try to find a way to connect to someone – somewhere – in the midst of the meaningless tasks involved with Monday’s arrival.
I could go on in a tangent about how social media has both helped and hurt me in this regard, but I’ll save that for later. Instead, I’ll make a meatloaf, finish washing the diapers and fold the whites. And try to convince myself that it does matter, even when there’s no one sitting beside me to convince me so.