I’m sure you’ve all seen those memes or spreadsheets floating around showing what moms should be paid based on them doing the duties of housekeeper, laundress, CFO, physician’s assistant/nurse, chef, and about a dozen other professions, breaking it down into an hourly then yearly wage. It usually ends up being a staggering figure, like $500 K a year. I’ve always had mixed feelings about that. On one hand, I signed up for the mom gig. I love my kids more than anything. Being a mom – a parent in general – is an exercise in sacrifice. The world does, and should, revolve around your little people, making sure they’re cared for and don’t turn out to be dimwitted assholes. On the other hand, those memes do attempt to show how hard it is, how it’s more than a full-time job. More than a full-time job some of us already juggle.
I’ve always been very up-front about not only needing my job financially, but needing the stimulation and “grown up time” it afforded me. Those days with teeny ones at home are magical in a way, but are also long, lonely, stressful, and boring. Hand in hand with that, veteran parents like to tell you that “it goes fast” and “it gets easier.” I suppose it does. I exist in that confused state whereby I want to freeze or somehow put my children in suspended animation now to stop the growing up yet long for the day when I can say “Stella watch your brother. I need to go to the store for noodles and wine” and go, without having to ask who has to potty, or check a diaper, or hunt for missing shoes, or buckle wiggly butts into car seats.
But I think maybe I’ve crossed some kind of threshold, by which I mean my kids have become old enough, and the requirements of their schools and lives outside of school are becoming interesting and rich enough that, dammit, I need more time to invest in it. I realized this during my mask-making activity. My brother-in-law’s girlfriend came over to help me make an alligator mask for Stella’s school. It’s Wildlife Warrior Week, and there’s a mask contest based on homemade masks incorporating wildlife from our state. I actually found some mad mom skills I didn’t know I had. It turned out so cute. I want to make more masks.
See, this is the competitive monster that used to reside in me in school. I was never in to athletics, but dammit, I wanted my paper to score the highest. I wanted to be the geologist with the most posters at conferences, the highest GPA. That side of me disappeared a long time ago. Now it’s back. When I dropped the mask off yesterday prior to our Daisy Scout meeting (because I wasn’t about to trust that beauty to a box jostling around inside a booksack), I threatened that if Stella didn’t win something, I’d contest the election. I will, and I mean it, be looking for some hanging chads up in that bitch. And I’ve been dreaming….. dreaming of next year, when Stella’s mask will be bigger, better. And shit, I may need 2, because hopefully Felix will be in pre-K by then. And then I suppose I’ll need 2 of these masks for 4 years, plus another couple after that for just Felix. Plus whatever other contests/projects/science fair thingamajigs come along.
But how can I do that when I have to have this pesky job, a job that does not nearly make me feel as proud, happy, or fulfilled as it used to? I’d much rather be PTA’ing, mask making, cookie baking. Dammit, I need one of those mom salaries. If anyone out there finds out who’s taking applications, let me know.