cleaning

My Children Think I’m “Daddy’s Helper”

I, the cool and interesting mama, have been demoted. By my kids.

Exhibit A

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.

Exhibit B

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.

Exhibit C

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.

For more stories from stay-at-home moms, hear from the accidental stay-at-home mom, the fun side of staying home, and the feminist mother who stayed at home.  

Rebecca Einstein Schorr

Ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr is a CLAL Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, a contributing author of The New Normal: Blogging Disability, and the editor of the newsletter of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Her writing appears regularly on various sites and she is a frequent guest on Huffington Post Live. Rebecca is a contributor toThe Sacred Encounter: Jewish Perspectives on Sexuality (CCAR Press, April 2014), and is the co-editor of a forthcoming title on the impact of forty years of women in the rabbinate. Writing at her blog, This Messy Life (www.rebeccaeinsteinschorr.com), Rebecca finds meaning in the sacred and not-yet-sacred intersections of daily life. Engage with her on Twitter @rebeccaschorr.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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