I occasionally feel bad that I am not a stay at home mother. Occasionally my daughter tries to make me feel worse.
We have reached a compromise in the last year or two, and now, instead of wanting me to be home all the time so I can be president of the PTA or drive her somewhere after school, she just focuses on the fact that I don’t get summers off. She has friends who “don’t have to go to camp” because their parent is a teacher, or works part time. This is her line in the sand. She says she wants to laze around, stay up late, wake up late, and have no schedule for the summer ” just like everyone else”. Honestly who wouldn’t like to have a summer off? The last one I had was the year she was born because I was on maternity leave from grad school.
It’s the “just like everyone else” that I have a problem with. It’s so simple to imagine that other people’s lives are better, more fun, easier than yours. I tell her that you never know what goes on in other people’s houses, what sacrifices or compromises they make to have the life she thinks she wants for us.
She knows that because I work, and not just her father, we have two cars and a house with four bedrooms. That she has plenty of clothes, and a cell phone and other assorted pre-teen toys. She doesn’t get why we say she has to get good grades so she can get a scholarship for college. In her mind parents pay for college (in my mind parents pay a very small portion of college.) She knows I am alternately cheap and generous but has not figured out a system for predicting when I will advocate frugality or be expansive.
Something I think she won’t understand for a long time is the fact that I have to work, I need to work. It’s part of my identity. It’s not enough to just be her mother and keep house and volunteer full time. Someday maybe she will make similar choices, or maybe her identity will be grounded by something else. Who knows. Until then she remains vaguely pissed at me that I do not have summers off.