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March 02, 2007
TAKE ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE OF MY HEART
The other night at bedtime, my 10-year-old son popped the question that always seems to stab a working mother right in the heart.
"Mom, why can't you quit your job and be a stay-home [sic] mom?"
He then went on, "It would be so much fun. I could come home for lunch with you any day I want, not just on Wednesdays. You would always be around to help me with my homework. We could do things together after school."
Of course, even on Wednesdays when I work at home, he'd usually rather eat with his friends and play in the schoolyard than have lunch with me. And I'm always available to help him with homework, whether he calls me in the office with a question or I sit down with him in the kitchen after I get home each night. True, I can't do things with him immediately after school. But even if I was there, I'd likely be chauffeuring him to piano lessons, sports practices, Hebrew School, and playdates. And we do lots together during the week anyway. This past week alone, I went with him to square-dance night at the school, took him to soccer practice, read with him, and played a mean game of darts.
Yet the question still stings. "Why can't you be a stay-home mom?"
So I tell him he's lucky to have a mother with such an important, interesting job, one that makes me uniquely qualified to help him learn to be a good writer.
I tell him if I was around all the time, he wouldn't appreciate me as much, and what would I do all those hours he was in school.
I tell him if I didn't work, we wouldn't have enough money to take nice vacations and send him to camp and go out to eat and perhaps, even live in the house and town we're in now.
And I tell him it's important for mom to have a life outside the family, so that in a few years, when he's a teenager who won't want to hang out much with his parents, I'll have something to keep me gainfully occupied.
There are lots of other things I could say: how I really enjoy what I do, how working gives me an identity and teaches him to respect women and appreciate what they can accomplish outside the home.
Yes, the question--"Why can't you be a stay-home mom?"--gets me right in the heart. But the answers make a whole lot of sense.
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Been there. Done that. Pieces of my heart torn away by childhood wishes. Working and traveling for work has been difficult, but my children have been able to thrive despite. Don't fret. Purpose to give your child(ren) fun, creative, communicative time when you are with them. Being available to talk when you are working even on a cell strengthens the relationship. It is O.K. for them to know that they cannot have every moment of your time, but when you are together give your best to them: it is worth the wait.
Posted by: Linda at March 5, 2007 07:34 PM
Also been there. Best thing I did - and was able to do - was to work part time. Even when working late one is never away. What I found is that the children need to have someone around more in their teens.
I told my daughter that unfortunately that I could never stay home - my mind had to be occupied with things or I would wither and be unpleasant to be around. That I treasured the time with her more because we could.
Posted by: Sara at March 7, 2007 08:47 PM
Thanks for the comment, Sara. I agree that if I were around the house all the time without something stimulating to feed my brain, my kids might start to seriously dislike me. I think I'd also be overly preoccupied with stupid things, such as picking up dust bunnies and running to CVS 10 times a day.
Posted by: Amy at March 8, 2007 11:06 AM
Well said Amy! ;-)
Posted by: Didi at March 19, 2007 11:12 PM
Perhaps the reason it gets you right in the heart is because you know you should be at home caring for your son. Look at every reason you try to justify working, they are all selfish and are primarily for your benefit. YOUR benefit, not your son's. As a writer you could easily work part time from home, around his schedule to ensure he is getting your full love and care. Calling you at your office is not the same as being able to sit with him after school and helping him. Your son is telling you what he really needs - a mommy, not nice vacations or going out to eat.
Posted by: Christina at April 7, 2007 12:40 AM