Unnamed child, age 9, invited me to participate in Career Day at school. Then uninvited me because “Daddy works for Crayola and you just stay at home now. I don’t think the kids at school will find you very interesting.”
For those who don’t know, I was a pulpit rabbi for 12 years before off-ramping to stay at home full-time to do a better job of caring for our kids, one of whom has autism. A difficult decision at the time and many days since.
Unnamed child, age 5, announced, apropos of nothing, that “the person who makes the money makes him the ruler. So Daddy has work so that makes him the ruler. The stuff you do doesn’t make you the ruler; it makes you Daddy’s helper in doing stuff. But Daddy is the ruler. Whoever has the money and whoever goes to work, they get to be the ruler.”
Daddy’s Helper?? Where did I go wrong??
As all moms know, there are innumerable details and tasks that go into the running of a household. Most of the action occurs behind the scenes and isn’t very glamorous. Or interesting.
I am guessing that my kids have no idea what I do all day. I could tell them, but I’m pretty sure that it won’t help the cause. Even though I might feel a great sense of accomplishment when I’ve figured out how to make homemade chocolate pudding on the same day that I scrubbed all of the toilets, vacuumed the upholstery, and gotten the insurance company to reimburse us for a claim–all by the time my youngest got home from half-day kindergarten–it is not the stuff of which career day presentations are made.
Yes, I used to be the cool mom. The one who was interviewed by NPR for being the first, and only, woman rabbi to serve a congregation with her father. In the world. And who was up on the pulpit every week. And doing all of the interesting work that rabbis do. As it turns out, I was also the absentee-mom.
Unnamed child, age 12, recently reflected, “You know, I feel like I didn’t even know you when we used to live in California.”
Do my kids need to have a better understanding of how things work in our household? I suppose they do. And one day, when they are older, I’ll even tell them about the choices I’ve made so that they have a more complete picture of who their mom was and how she lost her coolness-quotient.
In the meantime, I’m thinking of having a shirt made. One that says “Daddy’s Helper.” It’s sure to lighten my spirits on toilet-cleaning days.