I had the privilege of being in the 2014 Chicago cast of Listen to Your Mother. It was an incredible one performance only show, but those of you who weren’t there can now have the second best thing. Videos from this year’s LTYM shows are now available on the Listen to Your Mother YouTube channel. Each person’s reading is a separate video file so you can make your way through them in approximately five minute chunks.
I particularly encourage you to view all the videos from my amazing Chicago cast members, but I look forward to viewing videos from all 32 cities as well. If you haven’t already seen videos from previous years you should watch those too. LTYM is full of funny, inspiring, and surprising stories. There are even a few men.
Here is the video of me reading my essay “A Working Mom’s Confession.” The text is below if you prefer to read it.
“A Working Mom’s Confession” by Kim Z. Dale
I lost my job last year. I was given six months notice which seemed like a lot of time, but as those months went on I had to face the possibility that I might not be able to find another job.
It was scary.
I wasn’t scared about money. Losing my salary would have sucked, but I was lucky to have a husband who still had a well-paying job with benefits. We would need a tight budget, but I did the math. We’d be able to pay the mortgage. No one would starve.
The really scary part was if I didn’t find another job I would need to stay at home with my kids.
That’s not what I’m supposed to say. I’m supposed to say, “It would be rough being unemployed, but at least I’d get to spend more time with my children!”
When I’m working I do often wish I had more time to spend with my kids, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend all my time with my kids.
To be clear, my children are little so being home with them would not include a break while they are at school. Being at home with my kids would mean being at home with my kids.
My oldest child, my son, was born a month before my 36th birthday. Before that I hadn’t been around kids much since I was a kid myself. Actually when I was a kid myself I was an introverted, only child, latch-key kid, so even then I was around other kids less than most.
As an adult most of my friends with children live in other states. I didn’t have close family with kids. When I would be around kids I was awkward. I didn’t know how to talk to them or what to do.
Before having kids I was building a career. I worked. I went to grad school. I worked some more. I went to grad school again. I worked and worked. And I liked it.
I’m good at what I do, and I like being good at what I do.
Mothering is harder. I love my children more than I ever thought possible. But it’s like I only have a limited number of consecutive hours of attentive, enthusiastic mothering in me before I need a break. I can’t think of enough things to do. I get tired and short tempered. I resort to screen time and a lot of it.
Long periods alone with my kids make me feel inadequate.
Maybe if I had to be with my kids all day, every day I would learn patience and more age-appropriate activities. I don’t know. I didn’t have to find out because I did find a new job. A better job. And, yes, I’m good at it.
And that means someone else cares for my children. She is former teacher turned nanny. She has devoted many years to caring for children, and she, too, is good at what she does.
In parenting such an arrangement is sometimes referred to as “letting someone else raise your children.” In project management it’s called delegating.
This works for us. It’s good for me and my family. I’m happy with our life.
But, no, it’s not perfect.
For example, sometimes.
No. That’s a lie.
Often my kids call me the nanny’s name. Oh, I know they don’t mean anything by it and they correct themselves almost immediately. Mama. Mommy.
But in that moment I question everything.
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