Thursday, June 23, 2011

Outsourcing Motherhood

We've been quite busy with projects lately. Yesterday, I was talking to a friend about projects and projects with piccolini, and how it's going (or not), and I said, "You know...you can't outsource being a mother."

We both smiled and nodded our heads. But a moment later, our grins faded and it was clear that we were both thinking the same thing:

"Yes, you can! Nannies? Babysitters? Au Pairs?"

Then I felt rather foolish. Because who am I to make such grandiose statements about my value and my worth? Who do I think I am, acting like I'm so special and irreplaceable? I need to get off my high horse.

***

We had extra dirt. We had A LOT of extra dirt from the planter project this weekend.  I gave it away for free. Because even if it has a fancy name like "Organic potting soil;" in the end, it's still dirt. And it needed to be gone.

***

One mother came for dirt, with her two kids, about 3 years and 18 months, in tow. She shoveled, hauled, and loaded dirt while I chatted with her children.

"Are you in preschool?" I asked the little boy.
"Yes!" he said.
The mother chimed in: "No, they're both home with me, all the time."

***

Another person emailed me to ask if she could come in the afternoon.

"I'm taking care of my grandchild in the morning," she explained.

***

It felt significant to me: the mother, with two kids under 3, tackling a dirt project. The grandmother, waiting until she no longer had childcare responsibilities.

Is there a difference between a mother and a caregiver? Is it significant that the mother does a dirt project with her children while a caregiver (in this case, a grandmother) doesn't?

Fritz would say, "The difference could be personality. It could be generational. The difference could be the age of the kids. This is 'n of 2.' It's inconclusive data."

In short, he would say I'm over-analyzing.

I would partially concede, "there is no significance yet."

***

Still, I like this version: mothers can seldom afford the luxury of "later, without children," And thus, our children learn to be proactive - our children learn to take action - from life with us, the mothers. Maybe there are lessons from motherhood that can't be reached by outsourcing?

Or maybe I'll still on my high horse.

1 comment:

Meredith said...

We didn't live near family for the first 2 1/2 years of Little Elvis' life. I didn't have people to babysit, so he went on errands with me. We did most things together, and he was fine. But, if we had guests on our trips (my parents) he would always act up. Not sure why.