This is my husband playing with my son. In a few minutes, he will stand up and take his shirt that has patiently been waiting on the hanger. He will tell my son that it is time for daddy to go to work. My son will protest and say “not work, papa”. And my husband will explain him that his own papa also needed to go to work when he was a child. My son will start to cry and I will come and hug him. Tell him that it’s ok. That mummy will be here.
I will see my husband quickly grab two slices of bread and wave me good-bye while he will be walking towards the door. I will hear the door shut. And there will be a moment of silence.
That’s how it is. Daddy goes to work while mummy is staying here.
It was my decision. To become a stay-at-home mum for a while. First, it was for some months. Then for a year. And now, it is over two years since I quit my job. Over two years since I have put aside my incessantly ringing mobile. My high heels. My laptop. Over two years since I have peeled off the labels that were stuck on me. PR. Marketing. Events. I’ve put them in a box. They are laying there. Next to all the other labels. Peeled off by the other stay-at-home mums. Banker. Lawyer. Nurse. The list is endless. They lay there. Until someone will open the box and pick them up again.
It was my decision. To stay at home with the kids. To put my career into brackets. To become a little less of me. And a little more of them. It was my decision. And I take it every day anew. Because I know how guilty I would feel to be the second one walking out of the door.
So, I stay. But the guilt is sitting next to me. She’s looking at me. Observing me while I hug my son. All those years of study. All those years of work. The early mornings in the train. The late night hours in front of my laptop. Gone. Put away in a box. Now I am sitting here in my pajamas at 9am (*which doesn’t mean that I don’t get up at 5 or 6). Playing with the kids. Far away from the working crowd. Sometimes too far. I do work. But my work can’t pay the rent.
This is my husband playing with my son. This evening, he will open the door and my son will run towards him. He will pick him up and whirl him around. He will remove his suit jacket and kiss me hello. I will ask him how his day was. And he will ask me “what about yours?”. We will laugh with the kids and bring them to bed.
And I will ignore the guilt who is sitting there.
At the corner of the dinner table.