I used to be a teacher and, believe me, it was not an easy job. I was employed by the school district, and my duties involved writing curriculum, planning lessons, correcting papers, entering grades, communicating with parents, dealing with behavior–I could go on forever.
A few weeks ago when I was at the walk-in clinic, I was asked what I did for a living. My reply was, with some hesitation, unemployed. Many would consider this to be true as a stay-at-home mom has no income and no where to go in the morning. However, this could not be further from the truth.
I am employed–employed by a narcissistic dictator. I was hired to keep him alive from morning until his bedtime–An absolutely unfeasible task. He is often difficult to please and requests some of the most absurd things from me.
I am expected to catch him in midair as he attempts to walk nonchalantly off the garage steps, the basement steps, the steps at the library, the steps at the park, etc. If there are steps, he will find them, and attempt to plummet from them–I, attempting to be employee of the year, must never allow him to hit the ground or there will be hell to pay.
I am expected to leave him be as he explores his dangerous world atop his wooden chair; I am not to intervene and am to pretend not even to notice, until the precise moment he is about to plunge head-first to the floor. If I intervene prematurely, I am sure to face a jumbled, babbled, and tearful harangue from my little man.
I am to know precisely and with confidence what it is he wants when he flails his arms in all directions pointing at every corner of the room. My ability to read his mind must always be on the ball, and I receive no mercy if I guess wrong and get him his milk from the fridge instead of his water.
I am expected to follow exactly three feet behind him as he explores the garage, which is full of extremely unsafe objects. My job is to ensure he does not consume any pesticides or employ the use of any power tools. If I feel the need to remove him from these dangers and bring him inside the house, he will become like a noodle, slipping through my hands and puddling up on the floor in, what can only be described as, a full-fledged meltdown.
I must prepare for him a different meal each day for lunch and supper. He absolutely will not tolerate leftovers unless it is taco meat or deer sausage. If bread or potatoes are absent from his meal, all other victuals will end up on the floor until he is presented with bread or potatoes, sometimes he prefers both. If he devoured a grilled cheese the previous day, he will surely refuse to eat a grilled cheese the following day. He is too mighty and too important to eat a grilled cheese two days in a row.
For breakfast, I am to have fresh baked banana bread sans chocolate chips available at his brusque request. If banana bread is inside the fridge and I have the audacity to present him with a banana or a cutie instead, heads will roll.
I have lost all self-respect as my main task throughout the afternoon is to spend my time on all fours picking up cheerios, wiping up milk, or scraping smashed, half-chewed, dried bread off the floor. His dog spends more time on two feet than I do.
He will not tolerate, under any circumstances, being removed from the bathtub until he is good and ready. It does not matter if I am tired and would like to clock out for the day, my shift having ended over an hour prior; it does not matter if he himself can barely keep his eyes open; it does not matter if the bath water has become the temperature of drinking water: he will inform me when he is ready to exit the bathtub and I am not to take action a moment sooner.
He will regularly scream with excruciating thirst, then when he finally receives a drink of water or milk, he will hastily drink one single drop and persist in spewing out the rest upon his shirt, pants, and the floor. He is confident I will not hesitate to change him into something dry and wipe up the floor before he even needs to request it.
I am not allowed to divert my attention to my own lunch or dinner while he is eating. All of my attention, as well as my husband’s, must be focused upon his food portions. He may be willing to eat the corn, but absolutely not before he eats his meat. If he runs out of meat, but happens to spot some on my plate, it immediately becomes his meat in which he will scream for until he receives it. When he is full and has received the proper proportions of meat, veggies, and potato, only at this time, may I indulge, cautiously and discreetly, in my own meal.
If I offer him an amiable suggestion of “no” occasionally when he attempts to eat dirt or lick the dog, he simply laughs at me and does it again in mockery.
He finds it absolutely absurd and unacceptable for me to make an appeal for a couple hours off. He assures me he will scream as loud as any human ever screamed, creating a torturous situation for my fill-in, until I arrive back on the front doorstep.
I have no right to sleep soundly through the night. It is my duty and obligation to pop willingly and with a delightful mood from my bed the moment he creates a fuss. He will not and should not have to locate his own pacifier in the middle of the night and return it to his mouth. It does not matter if the pacifier is in his hand–I am to come to his aid and place it lovingly where it belongs. Then, he will not tolerate any exit from the room that does not involve me prancing on my tiptoes with held breath.
I have no income.
I have no pension.
I have no health benefits.
My hours are horrendous.
Honestly, the only thing that makes my job bearable is the indisputable, exhaustive, all-consuming love I have for my miniature and cuddly, yet ruthless, employer.