has not moved from that spot for 40 minutes. He just sits
and watches the other kids come in. I think he has a book— it
is hard to tell for sure.
The screen updates every five seconds or so. It reminds me of dancing
under a strobe light. Flash: He’s sitting on the floor. Flash:
Here comes a little girl. Flash: She whacks him on the head. Flash:
He’s crying. Flash: Here comes the teacher.
Now, where is he? Flash: He’s crawled over to the cubby holes.
Flash: What’s in there?
Every morning the alarm screams at 6:00 am. We get up, get washed,
get fed, get dressed, strap his flailing body into the car seat,
and haul him out to the daycare where two 18 year old girls watch
him and ten other kids so I can go to my job that pays the daycare
bill. And I become the voyeur. Welcome to postmodern child rearing:
I watch my son at daycare over the internet. He is growing up in
Technicolor, right on my screen.
The picture is not very clear. I can make out my son, but I can’t
read his face. He is a blue blur. Wait— is that him? Yes,
he has cuffs on his jeans this morning (they are too big but I couldn’t
find anything else that fit/was clean).
I shouldn’t complain: I am lucky in today’s harsh economy
to have a job that pays so well. At least that’s the propaganda
they feed me over the TV.
I am lucky…
My mother’s generation fought hard so that a woman like me
could earn a higher degree and have a prestigious career and make
more money that most of her male co-workers. Feminists fought so
their daughters could integrate into a man’s world, and perhaps,
take it over. I am woman, hear me roar.
Problem is, this world sucks. I miss my family. On a typical day
I am with my son (awake) for about 30 minutes in the morning, 30
minutes at lunch, and about 2 hours in the evenings for a grand
total of 3 hours per day. I spend more time with my co-workers than
my husband or son.
Not that my mother’s generation had it any better. Certainly
not. If I were forced to stay home all day doing under-appreciated,
mind-numbing child care and house work, my thoughts and opinions
and ideas all chalked up to a lot of nothing— silly girl!—
you betcha I’d be complaining. But sometimes I think we got
ourselves out of one bad situation and into another.
Flash: Kids are disappearing. Must be diaper changing time. Those
girls have to change 11 toddlers. I bet they get paid minimum wage.
Flash: Where’d he go?
When I was in graduate school there was this old hippie in the
program named Juanita. She wasn’t really that old, it was
just that she had long, gray hair down to her waist and wore no
make-up, and dressed in sloppy drab clothes. She looked old. Juanita
had read everything Karl Marx ever wrote and was always jonesing
to go to Cuba. Viva la revolution! She used to walk around muttering:
it’s gonna be ok, everything’s gonna be ok. Juanita
wanted to overthrow the government and restructure society. She
just had to pass her comprehensive exams first. I used to think
the woman was crazy as a loon. But maybe she had a point.
Marx says that we are being exploited for our labor. It doesn’t
matter how much money you make. The money part is irrelevant because
no matter how much we make we are being exploited. We are disposable
drones, punching in, punching out, selling our time., selling our
souls. Agreeing that we would rather make money than be with our
families. We would rather make money than care for our kids. We
would rather sit at our desks watching our children over the internet.
Flash: Seriously, I can’t see him.
The first day of daycare sucked. I cried, he cried. How terrifying
it must be, to be plopped down on the floor in a room full of strangers—
alone. Where’s mommy? Where’s daddy? Will they come
back? This is not my beautiful house. He was so happy before that—
going out with mommy and daddy! Where are we going today? It must
be Saturday because mommy is going out with us! Are we going to
the mall? Oh good fun!
Now, he’s caught on. He cries when we get him dressed. He
cries when we take him to the car. He screams when we try to strap
him the in car seat. He cries at the day care. Please don’t
leave me here mommy please don’t leave me I love you don’t
go stay with me I will give you kisses mommy MOMMY PLEASE NO.
Flash: Oh, that blob in the teacher’s lap is my son.
reconcile this working/daycare thing. If I were a religious woman
I would “let go and let God.” But I’m not, so
I fight it every day.
I never thought I would
pray to be a stay-at-home soccer mom.
mmo : april 2005