Well, here we are. Sweet Baby Violet is just about one year old. The bi-weekly Maternity Leave deposits have dried up and I’m officially not going back into the formal workforce any time soon. So, where does that put me? What am I now? What do I “do”?
We opened a new bank account today. As part of the application process we were asked for our professions. At home in Canada, it is assumed that a woman with a not-yet-walking baby is on maternity leave. Here in the US, women return to work (exhausted and zombie-like, I assume) mere weeks postpartum (a phenomenon I am incapable of understanding for enough reasons that maybe I will blog about it later). I was in a brief state of Canadian half-bewilderment at the bank rep’s question. Didn’t she see my baby? Of course she did because said baby was flailing herself wildly in my arms, making every attempt to gain access to everything on said bank worker’s desk. Peering over Violet’s unruly body I mumbled something along the lines of “I stay home with our little girl.” The bank representative looked at me knowingly and, with a nod, said, “Homemaker.”
I let out a little chortle.
Homemaker! Me? I’m classified in some computer system as “homemaker.”
“Is that okay?” She asked. “Do you mind if I list you like that? Some people get offended. We used to put ‘housewife’ but we had to change that.”
Sure. Whatever. It’s okay. I try not to get too hung up on stuff like that. Just hurry up and finish the account. I can’t protect your stapler from destructo-baby for much longer.
When we got home, my alleged title of ‘homemaker’ came back to mind.
The word felt weird. Like wearing someone else’s shoes. Or holding someone else’s baby.
“Hey Tom. Did you know the bank identified me in their database as a ‘homemaker’?”
“Do you mind that?”
“I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem right. (pause) … (pause) I think I prefer ‘stay at home mom’.”
And so, for the umpteenth time in the last 11 months of being a mother, I have been given another reason to grapple with how I’m going to balance being a mom (which is undoubtedly the most demanding, rewarding, precious and important role I’ve ever been assigned) with making sure I feel like a person who is fulfilled, who is contributing and who is living up to her potential.
So, which am I? What am I? Who am I? Let’s see if a quick word association reveals anything about who I think I am:
Immediate Association: Cookies / Apron
Immediate Association: Stained Shirt / Mini Van
Sure the image of cookies and an apron seems abundantly more appealing than that of the disheveled stay-at-home-mom I conjured up, but I believe it’s the latter that fits me better. When I think about my day with Violet, I’m not ‘home-making.’ If I were making a home, I would be baking things or polishing things or laundering things. Instead, I’m sitting on the floor doing a puzzle. I’m singing remixes of itsy-bitsy-spider to keep Violet from hurling herself onto the floor while I change her diaper. I’m calculating her input of food and output of poop over the last 48 hours.
And, for the most part, I’m loving it.
Although, sometimes I do make cookies. And my shirt may be stained but I might throw on an apron to cover it up. Does that make me part-homemaker? Maybe. But do I care? Just like before Violet was born, I am a multiplicity. Being a mom is the biggest part of what defines me these days and, for now, I’m going to find my fulfillment and make my contributions through building a solid relationship with my daughter. While the salary’s not great, the payback is huge.