Hey wait! *I* invented that!

I was thumbling… Thumbling? Why yes, I used my thumble. Don’t you have a thumble? Okay, I was thumbing through our January 2011 copy of the Ann Arbor Observer when an article jumped out at me. It was about “job-sharing” parents. People who scaled back to part time jobs when they became parents, so their children could be raised largely at home by their own parents. Well, that’s exactly what we did, back in the 1980s. Actually, it was the GG who arranged it. I was cluelessly bumbling along putting off making a decision about whether or not to return to my job when my baby was three months old. (Our company — we worked for the same government contractor — had no maternity policy but, after some hemming and hawing and shifting from foot to foot, they decreed that I could use my saved-up sick time.) Elizilla was born in October and the GG came home one day in January to find me cleaning out closets and that was that. He went to work the next day and before I knew it, I had an intense half-time job doing pretty much what I had been doing pre-baby. (I have not frequently cleaned closets since then so he may have some regrets about the whole thing 🙂 )

We cooked up an arrangement that the GG would get to work at six in the morning and work until two in the afternoon. I drove the baby over there at two and waited in the parking lot for him to come outside. He drove the baby home and I went in and worked five hours (four days a week, I didn’t work Fridays). What the heck? The GG was better at the mechanics of taking care of babies than I was. Since he and the Uncly Uncle were right smack in the middle of a set of ten siblings, he had many years of experience taking care of younger siblings and then nieces and nephews. So he changed all the diapers for the first few days week or so. And he was the Bath Master. Except he didn’t call it a bath. As he lowered the baby into the tub, he would say, “And now I veeeel perform zeee cloning!” Me? I changed my first diaper sometime after Elizilla came home.

We did various versions of the job-sharing scenario for ten years. Was it easy? Not exactly. It made for a VERY long day, for one thing. But we were able to raise our children as *we* wanted to and, even though I didn’t regard my job at that time as a career, it was a good job and I probably would’ve gone stir-crazy if I had been a full-time mother for all those years.

This is NOT to say that using a day-care situation is a bad thing. Day care situations run the gamut, just as the homes and families into which children are born and raised. And parents have different styles too. As much as the young Kayak Woman looked forward to having children and sometimes even dreamed of being a full-time mother, I know now that it was better for that young woman to be out in the world working. Interacting with other people, analyzing and solving technical problems. It’s what I do best and doing it five hours a day gave me the intellectual diversion I needed so that the messy diapers and tantrums and picky eating that come with small children did not overwhelm me. Usually… 😉

My only wish is that it was easier for all young parents to arrange their schedules to better fit the needs of their babies when they are young. If we are still talking about it in 2010, I’m guessing that it’s still hard for most people to arrange flexible, part-time schedules. It should be easier. The years that our children are young are short. And the wisdom and problem-solving skills that we gain as we raise our children should be regarded as valuable by prospective employers.

Okay, I’ve lost track of where I am here. The GG, the Commander, and the Beach Urchins are all out there talking in the back room (with a faaarrr in the faarrrrplace) and my ultra-sensitive ears are picking up probably 95% of what they are talking about, some of which I do not even wanna know… I am heating up leftovers for tonight. I am loving the ham that @DogMomster left here yesterday. I rarely cook ham. Except for when I make Eggs Benny, which calls for Canadian bacon. Speaking of Canadian bacon, DO NOT EVER rent the movie “Canadian Bacon”. Baaaaadddd movie! Trust me!

3 Responses to “Hey wait! *I* invented that!”

  1. Margaret Says:

    It works perfectly! My husband being self-employed could be home in the morning and I could be here after school. We still needed day care, but not very much and a parent was always home with them, even when they got to be teenagers.

  2. Pooh Says:

    Good points — both about the intellectual stimulation of being around adults solving technical problems, and the problem-solving skills that parents evolve!

    Regarding your tweet to Paulzetta about the island — it’s the “point” to the right of the picture. Both the winter snow and the different angle of their cabin to ours make it seem like it’s disappeared. I noticed that when we had the meeting with the environmental firm at their cabin, back when we were fighting the Darnoc.

  3. kayak woman Says:

    Agree about the lake photo: http://plixi.com/p/66035543 For some reason, I had a *really* hard time processing that one. I agree that it’s at a very different angle than what we see from our cabins.