The Great Debate

22 01 2008

 

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I have seen countless talk shows featuring stay-at-home moms vs. working moms. I would have to declare it a draw. Both walks of life have some considerable compromises (which is what entitles us to be named “mom”). For me, I think I chose the right path: that of working mom. Mostly because I lack the patience that stay-at-homers must have. I think we should start calling stay-at-home moms Gladiators. “Stay-at-home” suggests a certain passivity that staying at home with a two year old does not any any shape or form allow.

Yesterday, I spent the day with Ruthie since Adam worked the holiday. I spend the weekends with her all the time, but usually, Adam is there as well… or at least he’s an option if I need to get anything else done. So Ruthie and I vacuumed the living room and the bedrooms together–she with her little Dirt Devil that lights up and makes a strange clicking noise that sounds nothing at all like a vacuum cleaner. Then I took her down to the basement to do the laundry. She threw in the Downy ball and cried when I wouldn’t let her pour in the detergent. We “folded” clothes, which meant that she wadded them up in a ball and I smoothed them out and folded them as she handed them to me.

We went to Party City to buy her “Thomas Birthday,” which wound up being a Dora one since those were the first party goods she saw upon entering the store, causing her to pitch a death-defying fit in the shopping cart. She then wailed when we had to put the Dora balloon in the back behind her seat, insisting on holding the balloon’s hand on the way to the grocery store. We made it out of the grocery store with one more balloon that the clerk insisted on giving her even after I told her we had some in the car. Then we went to Chick-fil-a for lunch, where Ruthie ate 2 and a half nuggets and a few fries before insisting on climbing in the claustrophobic playroom that reminds me of those commercials where bacteria is visible on every surface, writhing in technicolor nastiness. It took her 20 minutes to climb up in her socks, which caused her to slip a lot. I intercepted her as she shot out of the yellow tube and carried her out. Thankfully, she looked up at me and nodded, saying “Time to go now, Mommy.”

Once we got home, I was relieved to see that it was 1:00, nap time. She slept for a total of 25 minutes before she cried hard enough to get her put in the big bed, where she slept soundly for another hour and a half. During this time, I finished cleaning and got ready for her birthday dinner with Adam’s side of the family.

We had pizza (her favorite) for dinner, which she adamantly refused to even entertain the thought of eating. And, finally: CAKE. She would not have a mere slice of cake. Instead, she insisted on dragging her finger along one side of the cake as I deceptively cut pieces from the other side so she would think she was indeed eating the entire cake. She coaxed the icing onto her little spoon, “C’mon blue,” and wiggled with pure satisfaction.

After opening a score of oversized toys that make all kinds of zany and annoying sounds, she finally passed out at 8:30. And I did too.

I’m writing this from work, where I have many similar challenges with less severe personal costs. For instance, if I lose my temper, I am not staining my child’s opinion of me or shaping her idea of how people deal with stress. Rather, I will be blown off as being a tired teacher (a creature rarely conceived of as having any emotive capacity). If I can’t think of something to do next, I just ask the students to read their novels. No problem. At home when I can’t think of what to do next, I put Ruthie in front of Dora and pretend not to feel terribly guilty about it. I have nothing but respect for stay-at-home Gladiators. I admit that I am not one of them. I won’t say I couldn’t be because everytime I say that, I get tested in ways that prove me wrong. I’d rather not be tested right now.

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2 responses

22 01 2008
Maggie

Who are you kidding? You are a working/graduate student/at home Gladiator. I feel pretty strongly that every time you leave your house you should yell, “Thundercats are go!” Ruthie is lucky to have a mom who does more than “it all,” while still maintaining her anthropologie-esque sense of style. 🙂 Miss you!

22 01 2008
whitreed

Thanks, friend! I actually just raided anthropologie this past weekend and it was blessed. I am donning a new pair of blue corduroys right now. Miss you, too!

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