Yesterday I was banging around in the kitchen, getting ready for work. The ever-present sound of NPR provided background for my tasks. Sometimes I pay close attention to the news, sometimes I just like to have it on as white noise. Yesterday I was moving in and out of those two states. "...now over 22,000 confirmed dead in Myanmar...40% chance of afternoon showers...a new poll shows 43% of women would take a pay cut to spend more time with their children..." What? Nothing else on the poll. Just that. I instantly knew I fell into the other 57% but instead of recognizing that I am in the majority, I began to feel guilty.
Guilt is a major component of being a working mother (especially if we were raised Catholic). I think it might be slightly worse for those of us who truly want to work. I don't go to work because I have to pay the mortgage. I mean, I do, I couldn't afford to quit my job. But I go to work because I enjoy the process of work. It's not that I fail to see the myriad wonders parenting affords me, I know that I get as much if not more from my mothering as my kids do. But I look to work as my mode of personal development. I often wish I could linger a bit more at home, hanging out with the kids. And I sometimes get distracted from what I'm doing at my desk by adorable pictures Kate and Sarah. But there is no shred of my being that longs to be with them so much more that I would work for less.
I have no difficulty understanding parents who do want to quit working and raise their kids themselves. I'm just not wired that way. I have always known that. For years and years I thought it meant that I would be a bad mom and should therefore not have kids at all. I thought the fact that I was never baby-crazy was a tell. I thought I should like being pregnant (I hated being pregnant). All those things I thought, that I never quite lived up to, contribute to today's guilt.
I stared at the radio, thinking of the 43% and wondering if any of them lied on the survey. I thought there would be more results from that poll for them to present. I thought they might tell me what percentage of fathers would take a pay cut to spend more time with their kids. As usual, though, it hadn't been a question.