Mom Parenting: Most Important Job in the World
I dread flying alone. Not because I fear flying—in fact, I enjoy the time without my four children haranguing me. I relish the occasional airplane ride as an opportunity to read a good book, go to the bathroom uninterrupted and walk in public without stopping traffic for a tantrum. I even secretly pray for delays, which mean more time to myself.
What I dread is the standard small talk endured with the person next to me. I can't escape it. Even with my nose in a book, eventually I am forced to make contact, and then comes the ubiquitous question: "What do you do?"
"I'm a stay-at-home mom," I tell my seatmate, hoping that this stranger understands that I no more stay at home than Grape-Nuts has grapes—or nuts. But it is not to be. My answer almost always elicits the perfunctory nod of the head, the glazed-over eyes and the dismissive response I loathe: "Ah, yes. Most important job in the world."
If my seatmate really thought that, I would be peppered with questions for the entire flight: "How have you honed your time-management skills? With four children and all the ensuing activities, how are you able to be all the places you're needed at once? Is it true you routinely work 16-hour days? How do you maintain the stamina needed to be all things to all people? I see you're still fairly witty and breathing: How is it you haven't cracked under the pressure of raising four humans to be functioning members of society while also running a house and stretching one paycheck to feed six people?"
Instead, my neighbor retreats back to his paper and I'm left feeling like I've somehow said something embarrassing.
The upside, of course, is that I can get back to my book.