Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The quandry of the Stay at Home Parent
It's been a rough week. My precious older child is in the throes of asserting himself, which for some reason involves much eye rolling, and snorting. The equally precious, (and by precious in both cases I mean aggravating) younger child is needy like a cling on. In the midst of all this wonderfulness. It was suggested to me that I should perhaps find some gainful employment. That is I should bring some money home. Taking care of children after all doesn't come with any sort of salary, or benefits for that matter. I am as full of ego (perhaps more so) then the next person, and I have to say the suggestion ticked me off. It also sent me off to find that perfect job. Two things 1) The perfect job according to the gentleman, (this word does not mean what you think it means.), is one where I could go to work early say 6 or 7 and be home in time to pick up the kids at 3. This job should pay decently after all I want to be fulfilled don't I? I don't just want to be a checker at the local supermarket! I'm too smart for that! I have a degree! So considering it should be fulfilling, and I am in effect working an entire day 6-2 (Let's assume no lunch). I should get paid well. At least enough so that it wouldn't all be lost in taxes, and as I'm picking up the kids hey no child care costs. Considering traffic my day would start at 5 and end at 2ish. Where my second day would start. That day would start at 2ish and end whenever the kids went to bed, about 9. I would then promptly go right off to bed remember I'm getting up at 5! Unless of course there are emails to be read or projects to finish from work. Not time to chat with the spouse not matter he's on the short list anyway. The underlying assumption was that there are jobs like this littered all over the place. I have just to get my hair and nails done, send in a few resumes here and there and pick one. That there are fulfilling jobs out there for women who have kids I do not doubt. I know many successful moms that work. What there are not, and have never been are jobs that will put my kids first and dare I say it my husbands job first. Managers that will say to me, oh your husband has an early meeting and you need to take the kids to school today? Sure just take a half day. Which when you start at 6 and the kids start at 9 it would be half a day. There are no managers in the world, that will allow for that kind of leeway for someone else s' career. I should find a job that pays well, but where both the manager and I know that I have little opportunity for career development. I won't be around for meetings post lunch after all. Also no after work team building. I'm going to work, but just not have any fun at it. What I am being asked to do and what parents the country over are doing, is to make their kids, our future second choice behind the almighty dollar. It is the assumption often spoken aloud that career tops everything. That it is acceptable if regretful that your managers or yourselves are calling colleagues at the dinner hour and beyond. Our work life has trumped home life to such an extent that a weekend without "work" seems like a vacation in itself. Stay at home parents are the barrier to this madness. It is not we that are preventing progress, but an entire society that has failed us. Yes I said failed. All of us have failed our future generations by making two parent working households the norm. We make the assumption that kids will raise themselves to be healthy and happy and well educated, when we give them the worst of ourselves. The hours of the day we are hungry, tired and wiped out. Only 4 hours at that. What did they do to deserve that? Do parents often need to work in this economy hell yes. It's a miserable choice, but we make it all the time. When that choice is made we negate the intrinsic value of a home maker. There is an assumption made when homemakers are dismissed. It is the assumption that society doesn't matter. That the fabric of neighborhood is woven effortlessly. It is not. It takes shared cups of coffee, and potlucks. It is about just dropping by and saying what's up in person. It is about looking out the window in the middle of the day and noticing that the elderly neighbor didn't go for their usual walk. It's knowing that you can leave your house for a vacation, and the neighbors will keep an eye on it. It is about volunteering at school and in libraries and museums. It is all these things that again don't bring home the bread, but make that bread tasteless for never being shared. Society needs people to stay at home and not nurture just their own children, but each other. We have failed at this greater good. Our kids are taking guns to school and mowing each other down like a caricatures in video games. We hear endlessly from neighbors of criminals, "I had no idea, he seemed like such a nice guy". Teachers are abusing kids for decades because moms and dads are dropping off and picking up and not gossiping about the school staff or each other! Gossip, (or as I think if it knowledge transfer) is important. It's knowing what goes on beyond organized meetings were everything can and is covered up. People with free time and intelligence are usually the ones that uncover the mess. It's what we do, this holding of society together. So don't tell me to get a job. I have one, and I'm not even getting paid for it! It would be grossly unfair to decide that one parent stay home because the kids need it. I'm not suggesting that that is a perfect solution. Everyone needs fulfillment outside of the home. Even I get tired of the clinging and eye rolling and would love to do something fulfilling to myself. I do have an outlet for that, but even that in the eyes of the world at large is useless unless it's bringing in the dough. I have been asked time out of mind if that "soap thing" makes any money. Yes, for your information it does. It's not going to pay the rent, but I am not losing money on the hobby. It warms the cockles of my heart, and to me that is enough. Would I like my husband to have the time and energy to do something similar? Yes! However he of the 24/7 job, can't seem to find the time. That is probably where the suggestion that I work came in. Don't worry I have a solution for this. I encourage all hobbies and if your wondering we are not a share the housework kind of family. He works and I don't and while I appreciate the help around the house, I do not require it. Does that mean that often only the public rooms are clean? Yes it does. I try very hard to make healthy, tasty meals 5 nights out of 7. The kids when they come home from school have snacks ready, and we're off to do homework. Is there a solution to this mess? Good news I though of one! As managers and leaders of companies all of you out there let's do this, let create that perfect 9 to 2 job. Perhaps you could now as you finish reading this create your next job opening not for one job but for two! Cut the salary in half and have two people come in from 9 to 2. You would be paying the same amount and everyone knows two heads are better than one! So off to it all you brilliant middle managers, HR folks and assorted CEO's create away!