Identity Issues

September 22, 2011

Camille and I have had some interesting conversations lately. The first one came up a few weeks ago before she started school (which, by the way, is going fabulously well!). She was helping me bake lemon bars. It was like one of those Hallmark commercials. A mother and  a daughter baking together in the kitchen. Afternoon sun lighting up the whole scene as the daughter looks into the mother's eyes and says, " When I grow up, I want to be a mom just like you". That's exactly what Camille said to me and my heart melted. I smiled at her and said, "You mean that you will make special treats with your kids?". "No, I mean that when I grow up I am going to hide a bunch of chocolate by my bed and not share it with my kids." That's when the Hallmark moment detonated and fused into a comedy/training video on how to avoid being a bad mother. 

And then there was yesterday afternoon when Camille came into my room, climbed up on the corner of my bed and began to watch me put away the clean clothes. In a very serious voice she said, "Mama, what are you?". I asked her for a little bit of clarification on her question and she responded by saying "When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up? Is this what you wanted to be? Someone who just cleans and cooks?". I tried to explain that I loved my "job" as a mama and that I did more than just cleaning and cooking. She looked doubtful and wandered out of the room before I could think of all the perfect responses that a perfect Hallmark-made-for-tv mother would have given.

When Noah was around the same age, I remember we had some similar conversations about jobs.  He used to beg me to get a job so he could stay later at school with his friends in the after-care program. One day he proudly announced that he had the perfect job for me: a Costco sampler know those people that hand out tasty little samples at the end of the aisles? He thought I'd be pretty good at that job.

I always thought I would return to work as a clinical social worker once both of my kids started school full time, but that's not really going to happen until we return to the States and I am not quite sure how or if that will happen then either. I like my current "job"...mama,wife, PTO member, library volunteer, gardener, yoga student, traveler, travel planner, photographer, reader and lapsed book club member (I promise to do better this year)cook, and housekeeper. I feel lucky to have this time at home with my family and for myself. But I am also aware that this isn't a job that is currently highlighted on career day discussions and I'll just have to work harder at coming up with a more satisfying answer for my five year old.

In the past year, Camille has been trying on different hats. She went through a period when she proudly announced that she wanted to grow up to become a baby sitter. After reading Pippi Longstocking, she was convinced that her calling was to be a "thing-finder" and in the past few weeks she has been telling us that she will grow up to be an artist. And I hope she does grow up to become all of those things including a mom who has a secret chocolate stash. And speaking of that...I am going to end here so I can find a better hiding spot for my chocolate before the kids get off the school bus. Chocolate is an absolute necessity when sorting out identity issues.
Emily M. said...

HA! this probably hits pretty close to home for most stay at home moms. we have had similar conversations here. my mom likes to tell the story of how i once told my teacher i was going to become a housewife like my mom so i could travel the world (after she and my dad had just gotten back from a trip to mexico, which was the only int'l trip they took when i was a kid). i guess i did grow up to become that! :)

Corinne said...

SERIOUSLY that is hilarious. I'm a chocolate hider too :)

Cami said...

I'm finding a secret chocolate stash is pretty awesome. But it needs to be secret from my husband. Lame. I often use Li Hing Mui (dried prune things from Hawaii), but my Jane loves those. Sigh. Well, you tell that Camille that her mom is certainly KILLING the SAHM business. You can say you're the CEO. :)

Francesca said...

what interesting series of conversations! I think we can infer that she doesn't have a hallmark personality, and that's something to be proud of! :)

Steven said...

I have read your post several times during the last few weeks. Every time I start laughing loud ... you have soo much humor for littel details. Its so human. WOW

joyce matula welch said...

I loved this piece about your "job". My kids are grown now and I have never regretted having my "job." Such wonderful, goofy memories were made.

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