Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sleeping In

This morning was my day to sleep in. 

Now in the past, this would have meant noon or even later.  After Glenn, it meant 9 a.m.  After Jackson, it meant 8 a.m.  This morning, it meant I got up at 6:30 a.m. to let the dogs out.  Then, I got to sleep peacefully while complete chaos raged in the living room.  At one point, Jackson stood outside my door repeatedly crying, “Daddy!”
This past couple of weeks, Tammi has been working constantly.  Today, she finished day 12 of 12 days in a row. When she started her marathon stretch, I was concerned about her working so much.  Tammi comes from a long line of workaholics.  I used to be one myself, but those days are well over.  It had not occurred to me that her stretch of working would affect me as well.  Yet, sure enough, by about day seven, I began to notice I was very tired by extension. 

And I’m tired enough with my own “job” so I don’t need to borrow her exhaustion, not that everyone believes I even have a job. Most people assume I stay home because I am lazy (which I’m not) or we are loaded (which we are not).  Most people don’t have any experience staying home as an adult and cannot relate to people who do. 
Honestly, I don’t really consider it a “real” job, either. 

What makes a job real?  I think staying at home is very similar to being a student.  Sure it is work, and it is hard, but unless you punch the clock, it is not a real job.  From talking to others, there are two parts of a “real” job — the time clock and a paycheck.  Ironically, if I worked from home as a reservationist or for a dot com, it would be more of a real job than raising the kids. Many do make the argument that it is harder than working outside of the home, but so far that’s not the belief of the majority.
Trying to explain what it is like working at home to a person without kids is like trying to explain winter to a Texan or summer to a Sconnie (someone from Wisconsin.)  They both say the same thing, “It gets cold/hot here as well.”  As if a Texan can even begin to understand what a Wisconsin winter is like.  Once you stray too far from what people know, then they stop being capable of understanding.

So do I get days off?  Well, no, but yes…well I don’t know.  If you work under the premise that my, “job” is to take care of the kids, then Tammi being home doesn’t change that.  She certainly makes it much easier.  It is always easier when you can play man-to-man instead of zone, defense.  You wouldn’t consider it a work day for Tammi, so why would you consider it for me? This really gets to the crux of the argument.  How can I have a job, if everyone else considers it a day off?  My job is to be a parent; I just spend more time doing it than others.  My “real” job is a part-time, off-hours, front desk clerk. I count what we used to pay the baby sitter, and I do well enough to feel good about myself. 

What are your thoughts?  I go back and forth.  I say that staying at home is not a “real” job, but it certainly contains aspects of work.  Moreover I feel the need to defend that I do have a real job. I believe I’m contributing in a positive and significant manner to our household — that what I do has definable value unrelated to a pay check — but I was not raised with this belief so sometimes I feel an internal struggle.  Being a stay-at-home parent goes beyond a traditional eight-hour work day, encompasses more responsibility and job hats than a normal job but doesn’t come with a paycheck, so we, as a society, don’t value it as much as an out-of-home job.  I would also say that being a mom also is Tammi’s job, it’s just not her only job.
So why did this morning go so awry?  Tammi had been working for 12 straight days.  She no longer knew the kid’s routine.  Kids crave consistency. So when Tammi changed that routine, they both reacted as if she had cut off their hands.  She made Glenn go to the bathroom before getting dressed, instead of right before school.  Why was Jackson crying at my door for twenty minutes?  He likes to eat a handful of Cheerios with his milk.  I may not have a job, but at least I’m good at the one I don’t have.  Also it sure is nice to have Tammi back, and great to get to sleep in, even if it was during the apocalypse.

1 comment:

  1. Well said friend! It certainly is a job in its own right. But does it earn a paycheck?. No. But a random out of the blue hug and an "I love you Dad" is sooo much more than a check can give you. My take is that people don't distinguish a "job" from "work". Is being a stay at home parent a job?. No. I don't think do. But it sure as hell IS work. And a lot of it. Good take man. I look forward to more

    Bobby J