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:: Archived Articles ::

My Real Job

According to most of society, I have never had a “real” job. I’ve never had to report at a certain time to a certain place to earn my wages. I’ve never gotten an envelope at the end of a long week. I’ve never had a boss to call me onto the carpet to reprimand me.

I’m a housewife. A home maker. A domestic engineer.

Along with a Bachelor of Arts from U.C.L.A. in history, I have three children of my own, ranging in age from eleven to nineteen. I also have the father of those three kids; the exchange students who live with us each year; the teenage friend who comes over after school and stays the weekends; and the two dogs, three cats, one bird and five chinchillas.

All of them, whether with two legs or four legs, feathers or fur, rely on me to make sure their lives are running smoothly. I have never regretted not pursuing a career outside the home after obtaining my degree, though some people have voiced that I ‘wasted’ all that time getting it.

Wasted? I don’t agree. I think it looks great framed over the desk from where I run the house.

“You don’t know what it’s like to have a ‘real’ job,” people say to me.

They are right in one sense. I don’t have to be at work at nine and I don’t get home at five.

I’m here all the time, working 27/7 with no set coffee breaks and no lunch hour. I don’t get to tell the family that I go off duty at a certain time, so please don’t call me at home. I’m already there.

When the teenager doesn’t come home on time, it’s me watching the clock. When the pet dies, it’s me who plans and executes the funeral. When the oven breaks just twelve hours before the cupcakes are due in the classroom, it’s me calling the neighbors to see if I can borrow theirs.

“We work real jobs,” I get told. “We get tired at the end of the week. You just don’t know what that’s like.”

Don’t I?

In this house, I’m outnumbered five to one and that’s only if you are counting the two leggers.

“You can set your own hours.”

“You can take long naps.”

“You can choose to work or choose to play.”

Right.

The day planner on my computer might say I have to take the dog to the vet, have a parent/teacher meeting and go get the car washed, but when the youngest wakes up with the fever, the day planner flies right out the window. Along with the dog. Along with the car. And along with the teacher.

Instead of walking out the door, I’m on the phone, rearranging the schedule – while making sure the videos the sick kid is watching are educational – while making sure she’s getting enough to eat – while taking care of the rest of the day’s schedule in the house.

I’m only a housewife so I must have tons of free time to do all those things other people only dream of.

Like taking a bath without a knock at the door. Like having a clear thought when two out of four kids needs my attention at once. Like getting to go to sleep at ten, only to be woken up at two-thirty when the youngest has a nightmare.

The nine to fiver’s get to go home at night and leave their work there.

I wonder what that is like. Because I don’t remember ever telling any of them how easy they have it, or how great it must be to get a paycheck that says you did a good week’s work.

What does a paycheck even look like?

Because as a housewife, a home maker, a domestic engineer, I’ve never seen one. All my work is on the house, so to speak.

I’m not complaining about my job. Far from it. I love what I do and wouldn’t change it for anything. There is great satisfaction in watching the kids grow to be adults and still have one peek her head in the door and say "Hi Mom," just because she felt like it. My kids like me, like to be around me. And that’s a good thing to achieve with all those years on the job.

No, I’m not complaining about my job. I’m complaining about the people who just don’t get it, yet choose to point it out to me anyway.

I’ve got great kids, my own as well as the borrowed. And the fact all the kids friends want to hang at our house, adding more confusion and more cost to the food budget, is a compliment rather then a burden.

It won’t last forever. Sooner than later, they will all fly away and then, maybe, I will have all that free time these people keep telling me I have. I’ll be able to watch the daytime television they think I watch, take those long naps and have lunch with a friend on a moments notice.

I wouldn’t change what I do for a living with anyone for anything. But I do wish those people who choose not to go be stay-at-home moms would stop telling me how easy I have it. That “I don’t know what it’s like to have a ‘real’ job?”

Trust me. I do.

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