Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Twiddling My Thumbs

Very often, when Raphaela has a play date with a friend, the attendees are the two mothers, and the two children.  If I ask Raphaela, "Where is so-and-so's Daddy?" she knows to answer that he is "at work."

At this age, children continue to believe that their mother's world, and the Universe at large, revolves around them, and that idea began to disturb the Barnard feminist in me.  I do not want Raphaela thinking that from the time I drop her off at Gan to the time I pick her up in the afternoon I sit in the house, twiddling my thumbs, while I think about her and how to please her.  Just as she is asserting her independence and defining a separate identity, I want her to grow up knowing that if a woman wants to work, she can; and furthermore, that a woman as much as a man can excell in their chosen field,  be happy in their chosen field, and not feel guilty thinking they are somehow neglecting their family by not choosing to be a stay at home Mom.   Being a mother is a full-time job in itself, and I admire women who take that route and do not lose their sense of self, or their sanity.

I also want to Raphaela to embrace her future of infinite options, and be confident that she can succeed.

So we play in my Chiropractic treatment room, and I have taught Raphaela that this is my office, where I help people as a "Spine Doctor."  (Chiropractic seems like too ambitious a word for the moment.)  When I drop her off at Gan, I give her a kiss and tell her that she while she enjoys her day with her friends, I am going to enjoy my day at work.

And if Raphaela is lucky enough as she becomes an adult to not need a job in order to pay the bills, I hope that she has the drive and committment to follow her passion to the fullest regardless, wherever her strengths may manifest.


Commenter Abbi said...

I think the belief that toddlers think the world revolves around them is kind of a myth, although a developmentally appropriate one at that. I think you are ascribing a tad too much analytical thought to RR, though. She's not thinking that you sit and twiddle her thumbs while she's at gan. She's not thinking about what you do at all. She just knows that you'll be there to pick her up at the end of the day, which is really the most important thing.

It's a bit early to start drumming in the "women can work" thing. It doesn't hurt, but it doesn't mean anything to her at this age. She's still not that aware that women are different from men, let alone whether they can/should/should not work. It's just not on her radar. As she gets older, she'll absorb the fact that you work naturally and make the developmentally appropriate connections as they come up.

When you play in your treatment room, to her, it's just another fun place to play. I promise, she's not drawing any major sociological/feminist conclusions from her play. She's just playing.

Midlife Singlemum said...

At DD's gan the children know that all the mummies and all the daddies go to work while they are at gan - even if some of the mummies actually stay at home. Dd certainly knows that I go to work and can even point out the building I work in as it's on the way to gan. Playdates are after gan/work and I've noticed that many of the fathers also pick up from gan. I don't think there's an issue at this age. And in my financial bracket it probably never will be an issue.

Amy Charles said...

Doc, too early, too early. She needs to believe that the world revolves around her. Don't distract her. At this age she still doesn't completely understand that you and she are separate people who can exist without each other.

Just wait. There's plenty of time.

Amy Charles said...

Actually, I take some of that back.

By the time my girl was RR's age, she knew that she went to daycare to play so that I could work. And at home she'd pretend I was a baby lion and she'd take me to baby lion daycare and comfort me there and tell me all my friends would be there and we'd play and have a good time, and she would work, and then she would come pick me up and we would go home. She was aware of *parents* working. The rarity was the woman who didn't have a paying job, like my friend with four young children. By the time she was four, my daughter recognized that as a *lot* of work, and thought my friend ought to get paid.

Doc said...

Love that story, Amy. Raphaela is a quick learner, in a relatively short time, words like "work," "office," and "Mommy Doctor" have found their way naturally into her conversations.