The disclaimers and hedges can wait. I just feel like saying how much I like my job as SBJ’s mama. Here are six things I love about my job.
1. He loves me
It’s really nice to work for someone who likes having you around. There’s nothing quite like hearing a heartfelt ‘Mama!’ from another room.
2. He smiles a lot
A grumpy workplace is a sucky workplace. Mine is full of smiles, thank goodness. SBJ is a particularly cheerful little guy and he’s fun to be around. We know from Amy Cuddy that fake-it-till-you-make-it is a legitimate strategy to change how you feel, so it’s handy that SBJ requires a lot of smiling, enthusiastic interaction. My mood lifts when I hang out with him.
3. I am my own boss (don’t tell SBJ I said that)
My son has demanding but clear expectations of me. At this age, I know what he needs and wants most of the time, and most of the time it’s within my power to give it to him.
Beyond supplying food, milk, music and plenty of animal encounters, he’s happy to delegate decision-making to me for our daily programme. I love that the week and month are pretty much a blank slate for me to fill, with very few external expectations or demands.
This is a blessing of this stage of life, and certainly, as SBJ gets older, there will be more obligations that come with belonging to kindy/school/ballet/soccer communities. But I will get to choose which of those to take on and I want to do it very thoughtfully. I think we can retain a sense of freedom and flexibility as time goes on.
Last week we were in Palmerston North again with my parents and it’s such a treat to be able to pick up and go. We went up for a family funeral, and unusually, there was just no reason not to take the time to come. I’m keen to prioritise our family’s needs over institutional obligations as long as I can.
My hours are long but flexible. Between two parents and various aunties and friends spending time with SBJ, I do pretty well for time ‘off.’
I have weekly or fortnightly massage appointments with the wonderful Mia. I can go anywhere, anytime with SBJ in a carseat or pushchair (I think the rare inactivity does him good!). Every week or two his dad takes him for a whole day of boys’ adventures and I go to a cafe and blog. It’s a pretty good life.
We are very lucky that his circadian rhythms have him waking between 7.30 and 8.30 in the morning – how civilised! – most of the time, and it suits me fine that that makes for a later bedtime than some kids.
5. My workmates are great
SBJ is good company. He can communicate most of what’s on his mind (crackers, dogs, monkeys, fish, up, down… you know, the essentials), and his ‘ya’ and ‘nah’ mean we are on the verge of genuine conversation (for those of us who speak his dialect). He’s a cheerful, easy-going little guy and lavishly rewards attention with sparkling grins.
At the moment he’s obsessed with dancing. Obsessed. In the street he darts into shop doorways to boogie to their soundtracks. At home he points at the stereo and urgently bobs up and down, begging for music. When he realises a track is winding down, he starts his desparate ‘more! more! more!’ before it’s even finished. He’s strongly disapproves of DJs talking in between tracks.
He climbs anything (the latest is standing on the recycling bin to clamber over the back of the sofa), runs everywhere and loves everyone. He’s devastated to say goodbye to anyone, including, last week, a toddler in a restaurant who he hadn’t even got to meet before she was whisked away. He gave a sad little ‘bye-bye’ to her back as she left.
SBJ is my direct report, but I have lots of other workmates I see throughout the week. Lots of them are mums and dads who graciously share their families with us. Lots of them are people without kids who graciously share themselves with us, in all our noisy glory. Lots of them are people in shops who pause to give SBJ a high five or a mandarin.
They’re all really nice! I’m in the very lucky position, in this job, of not having to hang out with anyone who isn’t. Very lucky.
6. Mama, PhD
I love being the world expert on SBJ. He’s adorable and admirable and I know him better than anyone.
I love those encounters where someone admires your baby and you’re like, yeah, he’s mine: isn’t he awesome? I get to take him home!
That’s the six for this season in life. I imagine it’ll be a different list in a few months’ time.
Ok, now it’s time for the hedges and disclaimers. I love my job. Things that are also true:
My job is hard work and fairly low-paid.
I am unusually lucky in my support and set-up, and plenty of people doing my job have a much harder time.
I’ve really loved other jobs I’ve had, too.
If your job is not as wonderful as mine, I hope your situation improves.
If you would love to have my job, but can’t for some reason, you have my sincere sympathy, and I hope this hasn’t been too hard to contemplate today.
Your turn, if you’d like to: give us six things you love about your job, whatever it is. Or another number.