Thursday, June 11, 2009

Run Up the Flagpole

At Annika's end-of-school celebration, one of the parents gave a speech to the children, a traditon. She had asked the kids for help with ideas of what to do if the summer gets boring or doesn't go as planned. Each had done a drawing or written a suggestion, the best of which were distributed in a booklet after the event. Of course, during the speech, she showed the "best" of the drawings, three from Annika's class... and the lead drawing was Annika's. I should be a proud parent...

But the drawing was titled, "What to do if Mamma spends too much time on the computer" and featured a laptop being run up the flagpole with a nervous, fingernail-chewing woman at the bottom. So, that's me, I guess, the fingernail-chewer who spends too much time on the computer. The one who refuses to pick her daughter up early and take her to the shopping center at 2 because she still has work to do. The one who doesn't automatically run home and pick up the latest forgotten item (homework, gym clothes...) in the middle of the day. The one who limits TV time, but uses it shamelessly (or shamefully) as a babysitter so she can get some work done (or blog, as I'm doing now.) The one who is thrilled at Annika's biking independence because it takes the pressure off. The one who has said - when asked repeatedly why I can't conform to all of her wishes - "Why don't you ask your pappa!"

I guess I thought it would be more equal, this kid-raising thing. I grew up in a traditional family, where my mom was responsible for 99% of the household day-to-day, and my dad came home at 6 for dinner. Sports activities, music classes, school pick-up and drop-off, groceries and meal planning - that was all my mom. Not that she wasn't smart. Not that she wasn't qualified. Not that she wasn't extremely well-educated. It was just the way it was done. I wonder if she would have gone back to work eventually when Rob and I were both in school. I guess she probably would have if she hadn't been busy with her 14-year battle with cancer... a full-time job of another sort. (A clue - when I was 2, she put me in daycare and taught Spanish to Peace Corps volunteers at the local university, but that ended when Rob came along, and then cancer came along when he was just 2.)

Anyway, I do enjoy my life, and I have created and chosen my job because of the flexibility that it offers. However, it does bother me sometimes that all the "flexibility" in our family is mine... but it bothers me more when the kids only see the same thing that I saw growing up. I want Annika to have the view that women can "have it all" (though that theory may be a little outdated these days) and I want the boys to see that dads can take an equal role in the day-to-day. When I ask Annika what she wants to be when she grows up, and she says a mom... well, that's not a bad thing, but what about a doctor? A scientist? A guard at Gröna Lund (Christopher's career plan when he's not planning on being a janitor)? Why should being a mom exclude all else?

After the event, I asked Annika why it was my computer that was up the flagpole, and not David's. (We are an equal-opportunity data household.) She said that it was because he's always travelling anyway... So maybe it isn't such a bad thing to have the household day-to-day. And now the TV babysitter is almost done, so I must sign off and get back to that day-to-day.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I want to see the art!