This evening I finished reading Beezus and Ramona aloud to May. It has a lot of funny/naughty little sister stories and a lot of occasions for conversation about sisterly relationships, child and grown-up.
Just to see what she’d say, I asked May what she thought she and August will be like when they grow up.
She shrugged. I’ll be an artist. (She has maintained this plan for nearly a year now, ever since reading a book about a day in the life of Picasso where he slept in late, painted in his underwear for a few hours, then had dinner and got dressed up to go to a party.)
What about August, do you think?
I think she’ll be a firefighter, she answered. Or maybe just a mom.
Then, my brain exploded inside of my head. Just a mom! What a completely odd thing to say. I said that as a kid. I know I did, and it made sense for me to say it; my mom was a bona fide, full time no-income SAHM. I had friends whose moms had careers, and friends whose moms didn’t, so of course there was mom and doctor and mom and lawyer and mom and hairdresser, and then there was just a mom.
Ignoring the whole crazy idea that there’s any just about being a hard core stay at home mom … I am very curious as to where May even dreamed up the idea that it’s possible to be a mom and nothing else. I mean, here I am, dropping her off at day care three days a week to go to an office and write things and deal with stuff, plus gallivanting off to poetry classes, etc. all the time and talking out loud in her full earshot about my creative and artistic goals. Also, I’m not sure, but I don’t think a single child in her preschool class has a parent whose job title I’d list as mom, period. Is it just that children can’t really see the other identities of their primary caregiver?
Of course, I totally missed the teachable moment where I should have said Yeah, but even if she mostly spends her time being a mom for a while, she’ll definitely have lots of other jobs in her life, too. Or whatever question I should have asked to figure out a bit more about what this means in her head, this just a mom.
I will need to continue probing this one.