Monday, April 15, 2013

Mama's Going "Back to Work"

Yes, it's true. Mama's heading "back to work" tomorrow.

More to the point, I'm adding a 20-hour-per-week consulting engagement plus a 6-hour-per-week commute to my already full-time job of mommying, my part-time job of playing keeping house and my other part-time job of freelance writing.

(I didn't mention blogging, though it takes up a lot of time, because I get zero compensation aside from the pure joy of vomiting the contents of my toxic brain into the ether.)

Inquiring minds want to know: How do I feel about going "back to work."

I wrote back in October about how much housework makes me want to scream, whereas childcare has made me unexpectedly happy.

Then yesterday, my friend Rachel at Tao of Poop wrote a post called Unhappy Homemaker, in which she bemoaned the job title of "homemaker" she was forced to write on her tax return (as was I). I was surprised at how many commenters didn't think the "label" was important, when, in fact, the words we use to describe ourselves and our world mean everything.

Hendrik Hertzberg at the New Yorker recently had a great piece on spin called "Senses of Entitlement" in which he says "names make opinions":
Call it what you will—enhanced interrogation or torture, collateral damage or civilian deaths, pro-life or anti-reproductive rights, global warming or climate change, homosexual marriage or marriage equality, assault rifles or “semi-automatic small-calibre sporting rifles with plastic accessories”—it’s all the same, and (excepting torture and warming) it’s all, to some degree, propaganda.
Indeed. There is a big difference between "stay-at-home mom" (which, again, is a term I hate) and "housewife" or "homemaker." The latter implies that I'm somehow solely responsible for both the quotidian child-rearing and keeping the house in order, cooking, cleaning, picking up the dry cleaning, doing the food shopping, walking and feeding the dog, doing laundry, taking out the trash and so on.

Well, you know, my husband works all day, so it's the least I can do, right?


Guess what? I work all day, too, raising our son. Outsourcing that care to a babysitter costs me $15 an hour. Because it's WORK. That we, in this country, do not monetarily value the time mothers (and fathers) spend with their children does not make it any less work.

So when Rayne is home, I expect him to do his share of keeping house. Generally I am on plants, laundry, cooking and food shopping duty. He does the trash and recycling, dishes, breakfast, dog and tinkering. (He also kills bugs. I love you, honey!)

As far as I'm concerned, my husband and I make our home together.

To answer the original question, I'm excited to "add to my work." It means I get two days a week separate from my role as mom and wife. It means I get to make a meaningful monetary contribution to our household. It means I get to exercise my brain a little differently. It means I have a reason to wear a suit instead of yoga pants. It means I get to leave Henry with an Italian babysitter.

And it means I don't have to put "homemaker" on next year's tax return.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /