09 July 2012

This magic moment

One of those threats that gets made about not staying home with kids (for those who have the luxury of making that decision) is about all the magical moments that end up being given over to someone else. The hired hands of the world are getting the first smiles and first steps while the mothers are doing exactly what I do all day except that they do it for strangers.

But the magic argument would not convince me. I'm not a person to get terribly excited about milestones or moments. What I find much more compelling is the grunt work argument. Although I wouldn't be thrilled about the joy of my baby's first smile falling to a hired hand (to whatever extent that might bring joy to a hired hand), I like much less the idea that someone else is doing the filthy work my own choices have generated. I think that the least pleasant tasks which are included in the care of children are most particularly and appropriately mine. It weirds me out to imagine some other person rummaging around in my children's diapers and underwear all day. It's not that I think everyone else in the world is a pervert, it's just that diaper rummaging is really personal and really gross. Is it possible to pay someone enough for changing a dirty diaper? I don't think so. If some fair price could be put on it, I'm sure it wouldn't begin to fit my budget.

Whether it is a good and generous heart or a needy mercenary who is willing to take on these endless, icky, and ungratifying tasks, that willingness does not negate my responsibility. If my kid pukes on someone, I think it should be on me. If my kid's nose is runny, I think I should wipe it. If my kid is spreading a rash, I think I should itch. I'll likely get some magic thrown in too, but that is a gracious benefit. The gross stuff is what I really owe it to the world to do myself, because no one else should have to.

Just give it to anyone! Absolutely anyone!


Emommy said...

I'm totally with you here. Years ago, when I inquired about an uncertified daycare lady's rates (she goes to our church), I was shocked to discover that she charged $2 an hour per kid. We live in a rural area, so maybe that's ridiculously low, but I couldn't believe that that's all the money she would require for the privilege--or debasement--of wiping my child's rear and nose and whatever opening required it. I was expecting a much higher cost, and I shuddered at how easy such a "low" rate could appeal to moms hell-bent on escaping, out of understandable fatigue, from having to do such work themselves. $16 for 8 hours is nothing.

Mostly, though, I hear and read about how daycare has to be more affordable. This church lady told me, while she watched four kids from one family for twelve hours a day five days a week, that the costs add up (which they would)...and all I could think about was how those kids were up at 4:30 a.m. every day to go grow up (and make messes) at someone else's house.

Untamed Shrew said...

Funny-- I once asked $2/hr to watch an 8yo who wasted a metric ton of food each day, only to hear from the mother's lips, "That seems kind of steep to me." I encouraged her to find someone cheaper, which she never did.

Cathy said...

I often think about the women that I see serving the public in the workplace, that they do things all day for strangers. I do things all day for people, too. But the people I serve love me very much, and I love them very much.

Anonymous said...

And yet, in response to Cathy, if you are in the workplace, then this is your vocation and it is possible to love those that we serve - to love them in Christ and know that each opportunity I have to meet their health care needs presents me with an opportunity to reflect the love of our Savior. So as strange as it sounds, there is very often a transference of "love". One might say that , yes, the tricks of my trade might be parlayed to "strangers" but the gift of a vocation, which in my case takes place away from the home, is a very real exchange of love - perhaps this is what separates a vocation from a job.

Cathy said...

Dear Anon, Yes! Thank you for clarifying that. I have received many, many times, the kind of loving care you described. It truly is God's love and mercy coming through another human being, and I don't think it is strange at all to call it love. You said it beautifully(I wish I was as articulate as you). And I thank you again, and God bless. (And I wish you were my healthcare giver!)