This morning, Lulu was asking me some really hard-to-decipher questions about when she has kids someday. I wasn’t really sure what she was wondering or trying to ask. She might have just been talking out her a$$. Somewhere along the line of the conversation, we agreed that I’d watch her kids while she went to her job as a doctor. She was asking about “my job” and I said my job is being a photographer and taking care of the kids. “What do you do to take care of the kids!?” she asked. Uh. I take naps & make mac ‘n cheese. Really. What does she think I do?
This has always been on my mind as a mother. I did not ever envision myself as a “housewife”. I worked at least part-time until we moved to Indiana. At the end of our time in Iowa, I really only went in to work as an Occupational Therapist once a week or every other week, and I worked at home 4-6 hours per day from home. My kids knew I had a job. Their mom had a job. She went to college and got a degree and got a job.
My vision for adulthood included a fantastic career and full-time day care. I had a boyfriend in high school & early college that alluded to his very different vision of me staying home and being the kind of amazing mom his mom was. That had honestly never occurred to me. Why the hell would I not have a job? A friend in OT school said she planned to stay home with her kids. I remember thinking, “Then why are you here?”.
I’ve always had a drive to earn a paycheck, sometimes to a fault. Through high school & college into my early career, I tended to continue to take on hours and extra jobs until I was totally overwrought with stress and exhaustion. Then I’d cut back and let it build back up again. As we continued to have kids & Brian continued to advance in his career, I was able to get that under control. Somewhat.
Lily has one year of preschool left after this one. I can’t help but think forward to “this time next year”. I don’t know what my plan is for when she goes to kindergarten. So far, I have the first day planned: put all three on the same bus, shed a tear, make a cup of coffee and buy a puppy. I’d like to think the next day, I’ll put a deposit down on a beautiful studio space. The studio will have white couches and the puppy will never pee on them. In thinking about “this time next year”, I’ve allowed myself to admit that stay-at-home-mom wasn’t what I had planned. It’s okay to think past pinning meal ideas & carpool. When I am able to do the actual work of running a photography business & to do it during regular-people daytime hours, I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve realized that I do like having a job & I do think it’s important; not just a “side thing”.
Make no mistake about it, I’m doing what I want to be doing & what I feel is right for myself and my family. There’s no doubt about that. But on days that I struggle with all of this motherly and wifely work, it helps to remember that I get to do this my way. Sometimes I feel bombarded by this ideal of motherhood and childhood being these magical mystical things that we are supposed to approach as some sort of monumental, never-been-done-before undertaking. Not so; not in this house. Sometimes that mystical magic of the everyday is more everyday than magic and that’s totally cool with me. That’s actually more fun and happy for me.
I really hope that my girls grow up with career aspirations. I hope they know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they want to go to college and are driven by the desire to work at something. And I hope they know the value of making that something work with being a mother. I hope they know that my college education enabled me to run a household, work outside the home and run a business from home. Maybe someday I’ll get to be the one to take care of their kids when Lily’s off being a doctor and Ellie’s being an artist.
The kid has no interest in art right now. She says that’s what art classes in college are for. Duh.