Nevertheless, he makes the money. If we divorced tomorrow, he would have a career. I would have a long employment gap and a stack of unsold paintings. But isn’t a partnership about give and take? He does a little more of this, I do a little more of that? He may be the breadwinner now, but there was a three-month period early in our marriage when I carried us both financially. Who’s to say I won’t be earning the bulk of our income in 10 years (aside from all those pesky statistics about women’s salaries)?
Where my current situation is concerned, working just two hours a week, no, I am the farthest thing from selfish. I give myself, mind, body and spirit to my daughter every day. I invite my husband and everyone close to me to unload their feelings on me. And when the cashier at the grocery store asks me if I want to donate a dollar to so-and-so foundation, I say yes, dammit, because I care about other people!
Conversely, I have wanted it all—the house, the career, the prestige, the money, the legacy—for a long time. My husband has never given a shit about the Joneses, and he probably never will.
So next time I hear someone say that patronizing “mothers have the most important job in the world” crap, I’m inclined to say, yes, it may be the most important job in the world to Mary down the street. Mary may have found her calling in her role as a mother. But for Amanda, “mother” isn’t a job. Mother is part of my identity. My paying career, the public impact I make through my writing and art, is my job. And if hiring a caregiver for my child after being a SAHM for one year so that I can work is selfish, then I guess I am. And I guess I don’t care.