Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fifteen Years at Home

When I took maternity leave from Airborne Express over fifteen years ago, no longer willing to navigate the hour and a half commute while eight-plus months pregnant, I never expected to be a stay-at-home mom for fifteen years and counting.
Most of the stay-at-home moms I know have long since returned to or started careers, have achieved professional success, and have co-workers, lunch hours and the occasional raise to prove it. None of them was foolhardy to begin again when the youngest was already eight...
Luckily I've been able to plug away at the career simmering on the back burner, working on my writing, taking classes, going to the occasional conference, and recently revisiting the painting I did in my early twenties, before breeding took precedence over anything else.
The longer it gets since I've had a paycheck, the more surreal, and atavistic, it seems. Who stays home for fifteen years, when they're far from filthy rich?
The good thing is that I'm still useful here. The pet numbers are dwindling, but the children are as needy as ever. The teenager needs hosting, groceries and social advice, the preteen needs grooming, an available ear and at least two rides a day, and the preschool age child needs constant vigilance and a reliable consort.
I hope to stay home forever, moving the arts careers to the front burner as the children get older and their needs change. But it is still amazing to think that for most of our almost twenty years as a couple, I've been a housewife, and she the breadwinner. Without any power trips, guilting or inequality. Astounding.

On the easel: Blue, in process, an oil pastel
On the laptop: How to Keep Cool During a Public Toddler Tantrum
On the nightstand: Circles of Confusion
On the art desk: Smithsonian Handbook of Dogs
On my mind: the approaching birthday, making connections, needing a nap, looking forward to painting again

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