Friday, April 12, 2013

"going to work"

"Where's Daddy?"

"At work."

"Mommy go to work?"

I paused and breathed.

"No, Mommy doesn't go to work. I used to go to work. I used to be a teacher, like Miss Susan. But now I don't go to work and teach other kids, I take care of you."

"Yay!" She scrunched up her hands and raised them both in a cheer, flashing her crinkle-nose smile and everything.

It made me so happy. It felt so affirming. I felt like I had made the right decision. At that very moment, I knew that I was in the right place in the world.

A little part of me, when I was pausing and breathing, felt this flare-up of feminist hackles, but it just wasn't where I was.

I was talking to my little girl. She's two. It was almost bedtime and she was wondering where her daddy was. If I would go, too. She just needed to hear that no, I would not be going to "work." (I do wonder what she pictures in her mind's eye when we say Daddy's at work.) She just needed to hear that I would be staying with her. That she would not be left alone.

There would be another time for feminist teachings.

At that same moment, though, when my heart felt so full because my daughter was happy that I could stay at home to take care of her, I knew that I couldn't rely on her sweet face--the relief, the smile, the joy--to make this work feel right. I know that there will be times--there already are times--when it definitely does not feel like she is thrilled that I am with her.

This was not one of them.