Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Work vs "work"

This post comes as a result of a conversation I had the other week with my favorite DIL, who this summer will be moving yet again to a new house and new town. This remarkable woman had two babies in 18 months, and as anyone out there who is a mom, knows just how much work that is. (My closest two were 24 months apart, so I didn't really even know). And did I mention that she and our son did it all halfway across the country from any family? No support system except the friends they made? Yeah. Tough.

Since the boys were born, she has been staying home and being the primary caregiver. Our son, like his dad, has been and will be somewhat absent due to the requirements of their profession. Since the kids are moving this summer to a more permanent location, I asked Aly if she would be "working outside of the home" (a phrase I hate, but don't know of a better one). It was a bad time to ask, because they're planning a cross-country move with two toddlers, but it did get me thinking.

I thought of what I did "outside of the home" versus what I did as a volunteer, and OMG. We need SAHMs. (Side note: one of Emily's classmate's moms was in med school when they were in elementary school, and whenever this girl was assigned to ANYTHING, all the other moms just sighed because we knew we'd be bringing the donuts / baking the cookies / chaperoning the class trip / whatever was assigned).

So when we got home from Cleveland, I thought I'd make a list. Here are the jobs I've actually been paid for, starting when I was a kid:
   Short order cook
   Deli prep (got really good at peeling potatoes and shelling hard-boiled eggs)
   Retail - JCPenney fabric department (and I don't sew!!!)
   Dishwasher in the microbiology labs in college (6 liter Erlenmeyer flasks full of gunk? No prob.)
   Medical technologist / clinical chemist - both as an intern, and then as a real job when I graduated
   Museum shop (retail)
   Inventory specialist (retail)

Now for the interesting part. And I'm not talking about "how much would you have to pay a person who stays home to raise her/his children" - you know, cook, chauffeur, nurse, organizer, house cleaner, blah blah blah. There are the actual volunteer positions (i.e. "jobs") I held since Emily, our oldest, started first grade:
   Girl Scout troop leader, Emily, 5 years, including summer science/math club
   Cub Scout den leader, Alex, 2 years
   Daisy, Girl Scout troop assistant troop leader, Erin, 1 year (maybe 2?)
   General manager for 2 select (read: TRAVEL) soccer teams
   Olympic Development Program (ODP) boys' coordinator
   School coordinator / representative for Gifted/Talented program
   Art Mom program - volunteer and then coordinator
   Room mom
   Math tutor for gifted program
   Reading tutor for kids who needed extra help (Arthur the aardvark still holds a special place in my heart)
   Class trip chaperone - trips TNTC
   Prom decorator - we're not talking high school gym here
   Prom / homecoming volunteer / chaperone (thanks for being elected to JCB and SCB, Erin!)
   Vacation Bible School - okay, only one summer for that
   Soul Seekers (church high school choir) cookbook - coordinated and published
   Church garage sale
   Museum shop volunteer (when the Joslyn lost its funding for actually hiring people in the shop)

I know there's more. Throw in attendance/carpooling to soccer, basketball, gymnastics, baseball (mercifully only one summer!), cross-country, track... Three kids, three schedules. And as I mentioned, my husband wasn't much help - not by choice, but by profession. Don't get me wrong - he could rock babies and change diapers with the best of them, but, let's just say, I think our kids' teachers might have thought I was a single parent. Our kids' teammates parents wondered about the absent dad. And our neighbors absolutely knew how strong I was since I was the snow-shoveler, gardener, and lawn-mower. And speaking of neighbors - thank God for you and carpools!

Dwight always said that I had the hardest job. And not just me - any SAHM. Anyway, in a roundabout way, this is my salute to all of you! You rock!!!

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