Last Tuesday Brett had the day off, and graciously offered to watch both kids for the morning so I could go to Starbucks and work. I had an essay to write, submissions to read, photos to edit, e-mails to answer. You know the drill. I put on some cropped yoga pants, my favorite sweatshirt, and threw on a hat (because I believe you need to dress for the job you want, and I want the kind of job where you can wear yoga pants). After carefully packing up my bag, I said goodbye to Everett.
"Bye, Ev! Mommy's going to work!"
He looked at me as if my hair had turned blue.
"Mommy doesn't go to work. Daddy goes to work," he informed me.
"What did you say?" I asked him, even though his words had been crystal clear.
"Mommy doesn't go to work. Daddy goes to work."
Brett chuckled on the couch. I was not amused.
I crouched down on my knees and grabbed him by the arms, perfectly prepared for such a teachable moment.
"Ev, sometimes mommy goes to work, too, okay? Daddy works, and mommy works. Today, mommy is going to work and daddy is going to stay home with you."
He shook his little head.
"No. Mommy doesn't go to work," he repeated matter of fact-ly.
Kids are sponges. We know this. So I guess, in that sense, it should come as no surprise that Everett believes only Brett has a job. After all, every morning we say, "Have a good day at work!" as daddy walks out the door.
Everett knows Brett won't be home until dinnertime. He also knows that I will be home all day---catering to his every need, preparing every snack, helping unbutton and re-button pants a dozen times in the bathroom. He knows that I will probably drive him somewhere fun---to the park, to the art studio, to the train museum. He knows that I will periodically feed Carson and change Carson and dare I say, pay attention to Carson.
But what he doesn't know is that when I'm checking my phone while he eats lunch, I'm responding to an e-mail about a photography gig. He has no clue what I do during naptime, that precious hour and a half where I accomplish a myriad of tasks: writing, editing, e-mail answering, collaboration pitching, online banking, TV watching, occasional laundry folding. He can't possibly know that when we take a walk around the neighborhood, I am brainstorming ideas upon ideas upon ideas for the future of Coffee + Crumbs, the future of my career, the future of our family.
The kid's only two years old. He doesn't have a clue.
At this age, Everett only knows what he observes and what I tell him, which is a beautiful gift and also a huge responsibility. Last Tuesday I had a bit of an epiphany: if I want my kids to understand my work, to know that I do, in fact, actually work, I need to speak up for myself. When I'm leaving the house for a photoshoot, I need to say more than just "Bye, kids!" When I drop Everett off with the babysitter twice a week, I need to say more than, "I'll miss you, buddy!"
After all, how will my kids ever learn to respect this work-at-home juggling act I'm partaking in every single day if they don't even know that I work?
I have a hard enough time explaining my tiny self-made career to adults. I'm always fumbling over words when people arch their eyebrows and ask curiously, "So what do you do?"
I'm better at answering than I once was, but I still get caught off guard sometimes and look at my feet before mumbling something like, "Uh...I'm a writer, sort of, and last year I started a blog about motherhood.....uh, and I also have a photography business."
(Are you embarrassed for me? I'm embarrassed for myself.)
But, as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. And apparently I've been missing out on a LOT of opportunities to practice this at home.
So today, I'm starting with one dirty blonde toddler and four little words.
"Mommy's going to work."