I don’t care what the Peace Corp says, parenting is the toughest job you will ever love. Parenting time can be wonderful and rewarding if you’re watching your kid blow through milestones as she builds her epic tower of wooden blocks, or it can be a tad tedious as you speed-read Goodnight Moon for the two millionth time, or it can just plain be a drag if you’re up at 1 am with a sleepless toddler who is cutting two new incisors (at last) and is understandably cranky on account of the pain. I knew this going in, and not only did I sign up willingly, but I put a hell of a lot more effort into landing the job of Mom than I ever did or will on advancing my career as a nerd for hire. I love being a Mom, but time spent playing with the girl is not leisure time, it is parenting time. After all, Jomkwan gets paid room and board and a weekly stipend to play with Margaret for 45 hours a week. If it’s a job when she does it, it’s a job when I do it or when Warren does it too. I put a bit of thought into it, and I came to the conclusion that time doesn’t count as leisure time unless I could have spent it playing World of Warcraft. Leisure time is time where I can give my full and undivided attention to a pleasurable activity of my choosing. This means I have very little actual leisure time in my week, and I’m OK with that since this is what I signed up for, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be epically miffed if someone dared tell me about the hours of leisure time I have every day.
I think morons like Clueless Time Management Guy are the reason why you occasionally still hear tell of internet fights between working moms and stay at home moms. Ye gods, what a stupid debate. In the past I’ve thought about posting about it, but really, what I have to say on the matter is pretty simple. There is no one right answer about whether it is better for the woman to stay home and care for the kids or go to a paid job. Every family is different, with a complex set of variables unique to that family. People make the best decision that they can based on their understanding of their own unique circumstances. Outsiders who second guess the choices that others make are probably being morons since it is unlikely that they have a better understanding of all the factors at play for a given family than the members of that family themselves. Sadly, it’s a common failing for people to presume that they can make better decisions for others than those people can for themselves. This is a bit tangential to the whole parenting time is not leisure time thing, but I bring it up because it is such a common sin to imply that what SAHMs do is not work and thus they should get "real" jobs.
I don't really have any particular bee in my bonnet about this other than to shake my head sadly at the cluelessness exposed. I’m pretty lucky that I have a husband who understands that kid care is not down time. We both enjoy spending time with our little girl, but he doesn’t count it as down time for him when he does it, and he understands that it is not down time for me when I do it. Warren is sympathetic and understanding on the Sunday afternoons when I start counting down the hours until bedtime. Two fourteen hour days of being the point person on childcare (not to mention being on call every night) do take their toll even when the child is at her most delightful. I look forward to spending time playing with Margaret, but I also look forward to Monday mornings when I get to work and can use the toilet in privacy. I don’t feel conflicted at this, and the high availability/disaster recovery parent understands the load on me and understands that I do not, in fact, have oodles of free capacity. My goodness, was that a nerdy metaphor or what? Anyway, as I am about to have my second child it is good to know that the work I do, both paid and unpaid, is appreciated by the person whose opinion in this matters the most. Likewise, I appreciate his contributions, especially taking extra parenting duty so I can get in some much needed exercise and dealing with all the accounting, taxes and financial stuff.