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My Life of Leisure

Weevy’s new favorite cartoon is Team Umizoomi, about a tiny brother and sister and their tiny robot who go around Umi City solving all these kids’ problems using their “mighty math power.”  Her favorite episode is, as she calls it “the milk one,” where this kid runs out of milk for her cereal.  The Umi siblings and the robot go to a farm, milk the cows, put the milk in containers, the whole megillah, and finally get the damn milk to the kid.  Well, needless to say, after watching the episode a couple of times, Weevy wanted some milk.  And not just any milk, she wanted strawberry milk, which Team Umizoomi also helped to make in the episode (along with chocolate milk and plain milk).  “Pink one?” she asked plaintively.

I’m not one to tell my daughter no, especially when it comes to something like strawberry milk.  But of course we didn’t have any in the house, nor did we have any powder or syrup with which to make it.  So I went to the supermarket to get some.

Only problem was, it was about 7:30 in the morning, and the supermarket wasn’t open yet.  This being Manhattan, there’s a 24-hour bodega/grocery store on just about every block, so I figured no problem.  That was until I’d hit one, then two, then three of them, with no strawberry milk OR strawberry milk-making ingredients on hand.  Think about it — when was the last time YOU went to your bodega for some strawberry milk?  So it kinda makes sense that they didn’t have it.

Finally, at the fourth bodega I saw, I met with success.  Twenty minutes after I’d left, I was the triumphant hunter-gatherer, returning to my delighted brood with not one but two containers of strawberry milk.  Feeling a little swelled of chest, I proudly tweeted, “Never realized how tough it is to find strawberry milk at 7:45 AM until RetroBaby [Weevy’s Twitter handle] demanded some just now. Success at bodega # 4.”

Later that morning I got a response from a (childless) friend of mine:

“I wish I could lead a leisurely life like yours… 4 bodegas in one morning for strawberry milkshake?  That’s a very loved baby…”

Well, I did agree with her about Weevy being loved.  No doubt about that.  But “leisurely life”?  Hello, I’m tramping around the Upper West Side at 7:45 in the morning looking for strawberry milk!  That’s not my idea of leisure.  When I go on vacation, I don’t get up and say, “You know what I’m gonna do this morning?  I’m gonna wander around and try to find some strawberry milk.”  Retirees don’t spend their golden years tramping from bodega to bodega in search of fucking strawberry milk.  THIS IS NOT LEISURE.  THIS IS WORK.  Taking care of my daughter, carting her to and from school and music class and art class and playdates and wherever the hell else she feels like going, seeing that she’s clean and fed and happy and healthy and intellectually stimulated and socially active and learning how to say “please” and “thank you” and not running smack into a fence while on her scooter (which I admit she did on my watch last week), all those things, and many more, are MY JOB.  And if she wants me to walk all over my neighborhood looking for strawberry milk at an hour when I’d much rather be asleep, well, that’s part of the job too.

I think a lot of people see child-rearing — especially by a man — as something less than real work.  Maybe because it doesn’t involve sitting at a desk.  Maybe because, instead of staring at a computer screen all day, I get to go to the park and the playground.  Maybe because, unlike most desk jobs, my job is incredibly rewarding emotionally.  But leisurely it ain’t.  To any non-parent who accuses me, or any stay-at-home parent, of having a “leisurely life,” put yourself in my shoes (which often as not have rainbow sprinkles on them and sand in them) for a day.  You’ll see that raising a 2-year-old is not the same thing as lying in a hammock and drinking piña coladas by the beach.

End of rant.  Thank you and goodnight.

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