Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Virginia's hardest job yet

It’s been almost nine years since my wife “told” her boss,
and I’ll never forget that day too. We were sitting at the
kitchen table with calculators and hand written numbers
scribbled on small pieces of scrap paper. Figuring out
how we'd be able to "make it" on one pay check instead
of two. My wife was all dressed up for work, and we were
waiting for Sylvia, our baby sitter to arrive.

“How do you think she’s going to take it?’ I said

“I have to tell her sooner or later, because
I feel like I’m taking advantage”. said my wife.

My wife’s boss loved her to death and was trying
to make “this” work for her. She promised my wife
that she could work part-time and her hours would
be as flexible as possible. And all that was after a
“very” extended six month maternity leave.

Yes, after my son was born my wife decided to go back
to work. Because she really liked her job and believed
her boss when she told her she could even keep the
"crib" in her office if she liked.

Yes, little Andres looking out the window of my wife's
office high above Madison Avenue. Just counting tugboats
along the East River while my wife held staff meetings in
her office.

Yes, this was my wife's dream, and her boss was going
to make it all "work" for her. Because she loved my wife,
and she would do just about anything to get her back to
her job at AFTRA.

Well, the "honeymoon" at work lasted for about two weeks
and then everything seemed to revert back to the way it was
before my wife had our son. The long hours, the meetings,
and the special projects that cropped up out of nowhere.

No Virginia, there is no Santa Claus at AFTRA, even if
your boss is the head of a multi-billion dollar health fund.

And today is the day you have to finally tell her that
you're quitting your job and never going back.
No matter how scared you are.

So there she was wearing her blue blazer and carrying her
black leather brerifcase. Yes, my wife always looked like
a real professional when she went to work. Even if the guys
hanging out on the milk crates outside our building thought
she was a flight attendant for Aero Mexico.

My wife left the house at eight that morning while I waited for
Sylvia, our baby sitter to arrive. And going to work a little late
was never a problem for me either. No, when you’re a graphic
designer the day never starts at nine anyway. No, I’ll leave that
up to the real world to deal with. No, not me.

The phone rang at about 10 that morning at my office,
I knew it was my wife.

“Well Ronnie, I told her”.

“How did she take it?”

“She wasn’t happy, and I think she’s actually a little mad”.

“Ok, so here goes nothing” I said.

That was sometime in March of the year 2000.
And my wife has never gone back to work since.

Yes, my wife became a stay at home mom.

A very hard decision to make,
I very hard decision indeed.

And the other day while I was cleaning out the closet I
found one of her dark blue business suits she used to wear
to work everyday. Inside her pocket was an old ADP pay
stub from her job at AFTRA.

Although my wife works harder than ever before, and
sometimes puts in fifteen hour days. There’s never a direct
deposit made into her bank account or an ADP pay stub
sent to the house.

No, these days there are roundtrips to school, cleaning the
house and homework in the afternoon. It’s harder than it’s
ever been at work, and sometimes it can be downright
maddening according to my wife.

And you know what, it’s only her and no one else.
When my mom stayed home with us at 399 East 4th there
were my grandparents and my aunt and uncle to watch
us once in a while.

No, these days families don’t live together in the same
house anymore, so you better just “buck-up” when you
get a migraine headache. Because your mom lives in Mexico
and your dad in San Antonio Texas.

So the next time you’re going to work while some other mom
is listening to her child cry because they can’t find their toy.
Don’t believe what everyone ever tells you, and don’t
think she’s so lucky because she doesn't have to take the
subway to work everyday.

Because the hardest job around may just be the one that
you never get paid for, and the one that doesn't end even
when it's time to go home.

Ron Lopez
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