"Papas work and Mamas don't."
My husband and I stop eating and look, surprised, at our son. He was already happily back to eating his breakfast cereal. We, on the other hand, were stunned, and not just because he had been chattering away about spiders just a minute ago.
(Ah, the non-sequitur. That's just how it goes with a four year-old in the house.)
"I'll have you know that your Mama is a lot smarter than I am, " was all that my husband could come up with. I couldn't thing of anything to say. And I'm supposed to be the smart one. But I knew that's not what our son meant, though I'm well aware that to many people paying work and brains are one and the same.
Instead, I thought about the day ahead of us: The driving, the cooking, the endless negotiating. I thought about the nice air-conditioned offices where I have worked in the past - places with doors and windows that look out at planes, planes that I used to take to to go to Very Important Meetings. I remember the thrill of a job well done - and the bonus checks that felt much better than any pat in the back ever did. I thought about my diploma collection - high school, college, grad school - the last one obscenely large in size and filled with beautiful calligraphy (which I've never bothered to decipher because it's in Latin. Once again, genius.). I realize that right now, no one cares.
Then I remembered.
I remembered what it was really like for me. I remembered working with my last boss, God bless her incompetent heart. The jealousy in her voice when I quit because I didn't want to be a brand manager anymore. I remembered the rows of cubicles and the persistent hum of the printers, white noise that would make me zone out - and what did I daydream about when I was half-awake and half asleep in front of an Excel spreadsheet?
I remember that I chose this life of uncertainty. I wanted to write. I wanted more control of my days. I've found that that's a lot harder than being told what to do. Have I wasted my education, my work experience? I don't know. But if there's one thing I know is that the person who should benefit the most from all my hard work is me. And I think I have: If anything, I have the confidence to say no to projects, things and people that don't fit me. I like that.
But enough about that. My kids and husband are still looking at me. Are they waiting for an answer?
"It's a little more complicated than that," I tell my son. I rub his hair and smile. He smiles back and asks if he can wear his spider tee to school again, the one he wore yesterday.
"Sure. Why not?" One decision down. Another endless day is ahead.