By Guest Blogger Jeffrey Cohen
It's been more than twenty years, and I still hear it every once in a while: "You still playin' Mr. Mom?"
Man, that burns me.
When my wife and I were first married, I swear, the issue of child rearing never really came up. Before you have kids, you can't imagine what it's like, to have kids. Not really. So we just bounced along and let nature take its course. Which it did. And two years after we were married, we introduced the world to our son Josh. Three years after that, we came back for seconds, and launched the good ship Eve.
Even then, it was never a question about how things would proceed. I was (and remain to this day) a freelance writer, at that point a mere thirteen years from publishing my first mystery novel. I worked--and still work, six days a week) out of our home. And I earn about as much as the average fast food employee, assuming the tips aren't all that good. My wife, on the other hand, is an attorney working for the government (first state, now county), and does somewhat better. Thank goodness.
I did not raise those children. WE raised those children. The fact is, you raise children until they're about eight or nine, and after that, you just help them raise themselves. But the fact remains that I was the parent who was home most of the time when they came home from day care (hell yes they were in day care--I had to work during the day, and those of you who do both: you're a better man than I am) and then school, and then middle school, and then high school.
Today, they have a collective age of 37. Come September, they'll both be living in college dormitories, assuming we can find a pile of money stuck in the couch. And I'm still hearing from people, casual acquaintances, who want to know when I'm going to stop "playing Mr. Mom" and get a REAL job.
Give me a break.
Those of us who were the "main caregiver" during the early years--and all that means is that we were home, not that we worked harder or less hard--are assumed to have it easy. We play with the kids and play at our jobs, and have the best of both worlds, right? Quality time with the children AND a (nominal, in my case) salary? Who wouldn't sign up for that?
All I can say is: Try it sometime. Conduct newspaper interviews with a screaming baby in the room. Postpone other interviews because you have to take your child to the pediatrician unexpectedly. Try to explain to your five-year-old daughter why Daddy can't make her kindergarten graduation because he has a chance to make $500 that day. Go ahead.
THEN you can tell me what I did all those years was "playing."
By the way, we did a damn good job raising those kids, too. I'm thrilled with both of them. They're good people and good company. I love my children, but you know what? I LIKE them, too. I'd rather spend time with them than with the vast majority of adults I know. THAT was a job well done.
And maybe the pay wasn't so bad, after all.
And what's bugging YOU today?
Jeffrey Cohen is the author of the Double Feature Mystery series, including the current A NIGHT AT THE OPERATION. If you want his kids to go to college, you might want to buy his books. Check out his web site. Jeff also blogs on Monday on Hey There's A Dead Guy In The Living Room.