"Why you have to go, Daddy?" I hear my toddler's plaintive, squeaky voice coming from the hallway as he follows his father towards the front door.
My husband swoops him up and reminds him he has to go to the office and that he'll see us later. He kisses both boys, kisses me, and waves goodbye. As the rumble of his truck leaves the driveway, my 5-year-old turns to his younger brother and says, bossily, "Dad has to go to work, Dylan. He has to earn money so we can live in this house."
Riley turns to me and says, "Right, Mom?"
I say yes, pause, and add that we both work so we can pay for things like our house and our groceries and the electricity and so on. I say, "You know I work too, don't you?"
"Yeah," says Riley doubtfully. "But Daddy is a builder."
"Do you know what I do for my work?" I say, even though I'm not sure I want to know what his answer is.
"Um ... the computer."
So it goes. Technically Daddy is an entrepreneur who also works in hardware project management, but yes, fine, he's a builder. Which is akin to being a LIVING GOD in my son's eyes.
To be honest, Riley never really cared what my job was before when I also worked in an office, but I know it held an exotic sort of appeal—if only for the fact that the building I worked in boasted a giant TV, pinball machines, and free food. On the few occasions he visited me there, he was starry-eyed over the coolness of our software nerd cave.
Now, however, there is a stark difference between what I do and what my husband does. My husband is the one who exits the house like royalty every morning, and is greeted with near-hysteria in the evenings. He's got the fun office we sometimes go to on weekends, where the kids can run wild through the hallways and raid the snack room. In my older boy's mind, my husband builds things—maybe even with LEGOS!—all day long, in the same way he builds things with Riley in the evenings.
In comparison, my job involves sitting on my ass. In front of a computer. Sometimes while shooing away my kids.
Of course, I'm a thousand times happier than I ever was in my office job, and I feel blessed beyond belief to have the opportunity to earn money and stay home with my kids. I'm lucky as hell, and I know it.
Still, I sort of wish I could scoop up just a teeny, tiny bit of that coolness factor my husband has in our household.
"Did you know that when I work at the computer, I write stories? And that people pay me for those stories? That's what my job is," I told Riley. (Whatever. If my husband can be a builder, I can damn well be a storyteller.)
"You do?" he said. "Wow, Mom. You must make good stories."
Ahhhhh, you know, I think I could detect a little ... pity on his part for that one. But what the hell, I'll take it. We can't all be builders.