Before I was a stay-at-home mom, I worked in the restaurant industry for years. I did a little bit of everything. I waited tables, bar-tended managed, manned the take-out, booked bands… Pretty much every position except cook and delivery driver. I started working at my last job at the tender, non-back hurting age of 25. The restaurant and I had a deep love/abiding hatred for each other. I loved making double my rent in one night. I loved the fast pace, and the fact that it was always changing. I had regulars, fostered friendships and had all of the fun. At the same time, I hated people. Nothing makes you more scornful of the general public than having to wait on them. People are terrible. Oh, the horror stories I could tell.
When I quit working, after seven years, I thought that I would be so glad to see that restaurant go. I was sick of working thirteen hour nights on my feet, only to go home, sleep for a few hours and then wake up and hang out with a toddler. I didn’t have the patience for drunken idiots anymore. My vague idea of being a SAHM (abbreviations!!) included going to the grocery store, mopping the floor every once in a while, and playing cute games with my child that would end up with him being a genius and me winning at Mom-ing. I didn’t count on the fact that I would miss working as much as I do.
It’s funny. Staying at home is literally one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. There are no breaks. There is no calling in sick (except for the one time that EVERYONE in my tiny family was vomiting at the same time. We called in reinforcements for that one). I do have health insurance, which is drastically new to me. The thing that’s the scariest is that I am solely responsible for a kid who walks like a drunken zombie and doesn’t know that you can’t just walk off the couch. If he turns into a crappy human being, people are going to look at me and silently judge me. It makes me long for the days when the only thing people judged were how strong my drinks were and I could tell them to fuck off at a whim. It’s generally frowned upon to tell your child to fuck off. Plus, I don’t think he even knows what that means.
My job descriptions for both jobs are almost the same. Be at the beck and call of a demanding, sometimes angry, sometimes happy person. Clean things. Bring foods. Be nice. The tips are shitty. (Sorry I’m not sorry for making that joke) But the pressure to not suck at your job is so much greater when you’re trying to make a person into a human being that others will want to be around for many years. I’m constantly worried that my kid will become a serial killer, or a rapist, or that kid in middle school who will eat anything for a dollar. I brainstorm ways to deal with situations that I hopefully don’t have to deal with for years to come. I put so much love and worry and effort and humor and laundry detergent into this job.
I’m crossing my fingers I don’t get fired anytime soon.