Here's the thing, she thought: when you work outside the home you get a paycheck every week. That's an obvious truth; but along with the money often you accomplish something tangible. In a previous life she worked for a fishing magazine. At the end of every month a magazine was created. You could hold it, thumb through it, and cringe at mistakes that should have been corrected before the pages went to press. And then you would start all over again and at the end of the next four weeks there'd be another magazine.
When your job is to be at home with your kids, everything you do gets undone every day if not sooner. Pick up the living room and tomorrow it will be strewn with train tracks, plastic animals, and Duplo again. Clean the kitchen floor and no sooner is it dry then it's smeared with American cheese and Cheerios. Ditto for bedrooms. Make dinner and it gets eaten; do laundry and it gets dirty. There's nothing tangible about the job of parenting. Nothing to show your spouse at the end of the day. Nothing except that the kids are still alive which is pretty much a given.
I know people will offer to trade places with me in an instant, shake their heads, and wonder what I'm complaining about she thought. But usually something that saps your energy so thoroughly leaves you with something at the end of it - a paycheck - a magazine - an interesting story from the office - some evidence that you put in a full days work. This job doesn't. It's overwhelming and yet nonexistent at the same time. If the Peace Corps is the "Toughest Job You'll Ever Love" then staying home with your children is the "Toughest Job You'll Ever Have Nothing to Show For" she thought.
song: Nobody's Girl • artist: Bonnie Raitt
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