An acquaintance recently lamented that her daughter “had to” put her 6-week-old in daycare and go back to work, even though leaving her newborn “was killing her.”
My purpose here isn’t to judge the specifics of that situation. There may be times when a mother of young children must work—though I suspect that, as usual, true hard cases are much rarer than we like to think.
That conversation made me immensely grateful to have a husband who has never exerted the slightest pressure on me to find “gainful employment,” nor begrudged me anything I asked because I don’t bring home a paycheck. This man thrives on sports but cheerfully chooses his children’s well-being over cable—even after Monday Night Football disappeared from the networks and even though it’s meant a months-long NASCAR fast this summer. He appreciates the fine lines of expensive engineering but is content to see a procession of used vehicles—minivans, no less—in his future. He savors the nuances of authentic pad thai, chicken tikka masala, and robust red wine, but happily consumes home-cooked substitutes and sips two-buck chuck.
Staying home with the kids might make me crazy sometimes, but I think I’d truly lose my mind if I “had to” hand over my newborn so that we could enjoy the luxuries that are marketed so seductively as necessities—possessions and pastimes which would after all only drive us to further distraction. For us, dropping the kids at daycare would effectively be sacrificing our babies on the altar of materialism. Talk about “the tyranny of the next thing!”
But I digress. I began this post, and I shall end it, in simple, heartfelt gratitude.