The other day a friend called to catch up. She is an older lady from church. She calls out of genuine concern and I have never heard her gossip about anyone. Still I dread those conversations. She asks question after question and many of them feel quite invasive. She asked, as she always does, what most would consider a seemingly innocent question. She asked if I work anywhere.
For years I worked in retail management. While I have nothing against the retail industry, I had just become burned out. Years of working every holiday and almost every weekend had gotten old. Frequently schedules are not very regular and it can be difficult to plan a life of any kind around that uncertainty. I never had the same days off from one week to the next, and because I was the manager, days off and vacation days were often forfeited for the sake of business.
When it became obvious that there would be issues with one of our grandchildren, my husband and I made the decision for me to come home and be available to help care for this child. Little did we know what this would lead to. Not only did I care for this child until things settled down, I became daycare for my daughter’s little boy. Then shortly there after we had two other grandchildren come to live with us for the first time without their parents. I was a very busy grandmother.
Fast forward five and a half years to present day. I still do daycare for my daughter’s now seven year old son and eleven month old baby boy. I still have the older child that I originally quit work for here frequently on weekends. The two little boys that came to live with us then are back with us along with their little sister. I also have five other grandchildren living close by who occasionally spend the night. I am with kids all the time.
The day before the conversation with the lady from church I had my daughter’s two boys, my older grandchild and the three that are living here. All day I cleaned up messes and spills. I swept my hardwood floors at least a dozen times trying to keep all of the little stuff off the floor that the eleven month old could and would put into his mouth. I cooked two meals and baked muffins for snacks. I filled drinks, changed diapers, accompanied children to the bathroom, settled disputes and kissed boo boos. I searched out the perfect shows on Netflix, found the age appropriate Youtube videos, and fixed the XBox. During all this I washed, folded and put away three loads of laundry and washed dishes. (I don’t have a dishwasher. I am the dishwasher.)
By the time my son-in-law arrived for his boys it was nearly bedtime. I still had to get the four remaining children bathed and ready for bed. Of course they needed one last snack and drink before brushing their teeth and heading off to sleep. When the last child had finally fallen asleep I looked around my house. I needed to sweep my floors. I had a few dishes to be washed. There was a sticky spill in the kitchen and the bathroom floor was wet. On top of that the clothes hamper was now full of dirty clothes again. I was completely exhausted and I knew I would get to complete the whole process the next day.
When my friend asked if I worked anywhere, I took a deep breath and sighed. I plastered a smile on my face and said as nicely as I could, “No I don’t work outside my home. I have the three kids here and I watch my daughter’s boys while she works.” My friend replied, “Oh well that is good that you get to stay home and don’t have to work.” Yep no work involved with what I do every day at all.