The contents of my hoody pocket currently include three bright orange pebbles and a dog treat. My pants are of the yoga variety. I am wearing no make up and, as usual, I will shower before I go pick up the kids. Because everyone knows you must look presentable at kid pick up. Drop off doesn’t matter as much and yoga pants are accepted and encouraged — presumably because you are going to a yoga class or heading out for a run. I wonder how many just end up at the grocery store like me.
The table I am typing on currently holds a piece of foam core board, paints, pipe cleaners, and a styrofoam ball. This week we are working on the sixth grade atom project, which is different from the cell project, but luckily required the same materials. Atoms and cells. Not too different really. There is also a pile of (mostly empty) Easter eggs — although I am still trolling for the ones that contain Jelly Bellies. I figure I am doing a service to my children’s sugar levels by balancing the load. (Score. I just found some. Must not mix them up with the pebbles nearby.)
The orange pebbles looked identical to jelly beans when I was walking on the beach this morning. I stopped in my tracks thinking they were leftover from a weekend egg hunt and was going to pass them by when I realized they were rocks. They ended up in my pocket next to the dog treat. For some reason, as the walk continued, the pebbles began to symbolize the three babies I have carried. One who has become a smart and beautiful 12 year old girl, one who has become an amazing 7 year old boy, and one who was miscarried and didn’t have the chance to become. On the days that I ruminate over whether I should have had a third child, I try to remind myself that I did. Almost fourteen years and there are only sporadic days where I still feel that hurt. That’s a good thing, I guess.
It has been nine years since I quit my job to take care of that 12 year old who was suffering greatly at daycare with severe food allergies. Almost daily calls about milk being spilled and hive breakouts and her inability to breathe didn’t do great things for the cortisol levels. And it certainly didn’t make it easy to focus on a job. I guess I knew it was time to quit when I was walking into daycare trying to hide the portable heart monitor under my shirt — which was attempting to figure out a messed up heart rhythm. Diagnosis? Healthy heart. And stress.
Over those nine years, I have done many different things to attempt to feel professional. I’ve worked part time in my field. I’ve written here and elsewhere. I’ve taken photos. All have earned me some money at times (mostly wages that were acceptable in the 1920s) and all have made me feel like I still had some professional self worth and value — something that is very hard to give up. I realize being able to stay home with my children is a luxury. But it is also tremendously difficult to give up your professional identity and have no financial security of your own. The “what ifs” rule my brain some days.
The three little pebbles, however, rule my heart. And those three little pebbles are who I work for. As caregivers, we’ve gone through many years where the term “homemaker” has been downright derogatory. I say that’s bullshit. I’m taking it back.
My job is to make a home for my family. I make Easter Eggs happen. I make Christmas happen. I make dinners happen. Some nights are magical, some nights are horrible — but we all show up the next night to give ourselves another chance. I clean the toilets and make the beds and call the plumbers and make sure the appliances work. I make sure there are clothes in their closets and shoes (that fit) on their feet. I work on cell projects and atom projects and homework every night. I scramble eggs in the morning and make sure there is a serving of fruit or vegetables on their plates. I pick up dirty socks and launder for the family. I walk the dog and feed the dog and play with the dog and do all of the things the children promised to do. (Secret: I knew it would be that way.) I buy groceries and apple juice and wine and bourbon. I plan meals for company and change the sheets when they come. I send birthday cards and flowers to the ones we love. I photograph the holidays and write the silly kiddo quotes down and keep track of where their baby books are. I know where to find the onesie they wore home from the hospital. I step on Legos and I don’t even feel it anymore. I buy pillows to make the couch look pretty and I sort the mail. I water the plants and buy the flowers for the porch. I get puked on and I snuggle with the puker. I clean the things they didn’t even know required it and it happens (most of the time) without them even knowing it.
I don’t do it perfectly, but I make a home for my family. And I think I’ve found the stage in life where I don’t need anything else.
I am a homemaker.