This morning, after I got the 6-year-old off to “summer club” at the local museum and got the 7 1/2-year-old deeply entranced with some Toy Story Legos, I grabbed my laptop and said to my 2-year-old daughter (in the kitchen with my vacationing husband) “Mommy’s going to go do some work for a while.”
Maggie belly-laughed at this little joke. “Mommy, you don’t work!” she chortled.
“What? Yes I do, honey,” I said.
“No you don’t,” she giggled. “That’s silly.”
“Well, I don’t wear a suit and go to an office like Daddy,” I said. “But I do work. My writing is my work.”
“NO IT’S NOT!” she roared, laughing helplessly.
This really bothered me. I suppose it’s mostly that my daughter doesn’t want me to “work,” as in, “exist for anything beyond her whim of the moment.” And she does have me around, a lot of the time, doing just that.
At the same time, I want her to know that I do work and that my work has value. Admittedly I may be a little defensive on this point; I’m not exactly stoking the fires in a coal mine, or performing open heart surgery. But I do something that I enjoy and that I think is of value. I even wrote a book that is actually on bookshelves. Not that that impressed my daughter much, either. And it still hasn’t quieted my inner doubts that I have something to prove, that if I’m going to take time away from my children to do something else, it had better be worth it.
Yesterday afternoon, I emailed a contractor who is going to do some work on my in-laws’ house (long story). I finished up my brief missive with “Hope you’re enjoying this incredible weather this week!”
Within three minutes came the response: “LOL some of us have to WORK!!!”
So that makes two people who think I don’t work.
This seems to me to be a particularly mom-ish problem. So many of my friends are working part-time, re-entering the work force, blazing their own trails, trying to be the best mom they can be and getting a career back on track at the same time. And many of our families probably do perceive us as not really working. I mean, as if.
What about you? Have you found that people are quick to make assumptions about your “work” or lack thereof as a mother?
picture from clipartof.com