A few nights ago, I had an OMG moment with my daughter. Not OMG like, OMG, she did something horrible. This was more of an “OMG, is that what she really thinks?” kind of a thing.
We were discussing something about the new house we’re building, and she wanted to know why my husband and I get to have jets in our bathtub but she doesn’t get to have them in hers. I told her that it’s because the jetted tubs are more expensive, and since my husband and I are the ones paying for it, it goes in our bathroom.
To which she replied, “Actually, Daddy’s paying for it, not you.”
Well. As I was removing the knife from my heart, I pondered how best to respond to this. You see, my kids know that I work, but it’s no secret in our family that, as a writer not of J.K. Rowling proportions, I don’t earn enough money to support us – or even myself – and I certainly don’t earn enough to pay for a new house.
I’ve made this clear to my kids because I want them to understand that not every job is a well-paying job, and also that working just a few hours a day isn’t necessarily going to get them a life filled with nice clothes and exotic vacations. But I’ve also made it clear to my kids – or at least I thought I had – that I used to work full-time, that I earned quite a nice salary, and that, while Daddy was out starting a new business by his bootstraps, it was my income that supported us all. But that part of the story, I guess, is a little bit muddier in my daughter’s mind than I realized. So I explained it to her, more or less just as I’ve explained it right here.
“But it’s Daddy’s money that we’re using to build the house,” she argued. “You haven’t worked since I was four.”
Yes, I told her, but if it hadn’t been for me, Daddy wouldn’t have any of that money, because he wouldn’t have been able to even start his business without my income to live off of! And that is exactly why men have to pay alimony when they get divorced! And then she started to cry, because I said the word divorce.
So there I was, with a big old OMG staring me in the face. As in, OMG, does my daughter think that I’m just some lazy bum who freeloads off my husband? OMG, does she not see the value in what I do every day as a mother? OMG, does she not understand that I am totally capable of getting a well-paying job, but that I’ve chosen not to so that I can be there for her and do all of the things that she relies on me to do? And the biggest OMG of all, OMG, am I setting a horrible example for her as a woman?
I had to take a step back and remind myself that she’s only ten. She can’t possibly understand all of these things now. All I can do is keep talking to her about these issues, keep explaining to her the difficult choices that women have to make, and hope that one day, when it counts, she’ll get it. Because OMG, she’d better.