The following routines have changed around the Bailey house since I left my 9 to 5 job.
1. Our bed is made (neatly!) every day.
2. Prima + Secondo have cleaner rooms.
3. The house is generally more in order.
4. I don’t get a regular paycheck.
It’s a strange feeling. The last item, I mean. [Truth be told, they all evoke new feelings, but No. 4 is the most foreign.]
For over a decade, I received a paycheck every two to three weeks. In that time, it was often a pleasure, a disappointment (when I thought I deserved more than I had earned), a point of pride, and a frustration. But I was always, always grateful to have a job and to earn for myself and my family.
Truth be told, not getting a paycheck has created a sort of void. It’s not been a particularly negative nor positive void, it’s just been an absence. I haven’t lost my sense of pride – because every time I see my daughters behaving politely or taking care of a friend or grabbing my waist and squeezing as hard as they can, I feel proud.
The pleasure of a paycheck still comes – albeit more sporadically – but inspires me and makes me feel proud of the project work I’ve done. The negative feelings I felt with paychecks of days gone by are mostly gone. For the time being, I’m taking some time away from experiencing first-hand the wage gap between men and women. I’m not going to have to ask anyone for a raise anytime soon, which is nice. And I’m not going to have to look at the Uncle Sam portion of the check and sigh just a little bit.
Sometimes I worry about the future, with fret akin to a long-lost love. Will Paycheck and I reunite? Will Paycheck be all that I remember it being? Will we live happily ever after, enjoying eternal, childlike wonder at one another?
For the time being I get paid differently.
I get paid in:
1. Secondo laughing hysterically at 12:45 p.m. on a Tuesday when I grab her legs on the swing and tickle her toes; then later telling me as I get her tube-like body dressed for bed, “Mommy, I love you. That’s for sure.”
2. Being there to pick-up Prima from school each day and help her finish her homework before the clock hits 4; then taking the kids to a friend’s basketball game and pizza afterwards. (When Prima complains, “Ooooh, we’re always the first to leave,” when it is time to go home, I am oh-so-clever-and-instructive-mother and say to her, “Prima, who is keeping track?” And with total seriousness and subtle resignation for her lot in life she sighs, “I am,” and gets in the car. Of course she is!)
3. The opportunity to arrive in a moment’s notice after a panicked call from a parent, a dear friend or a school nurse. And be there for as long as it takes.
4. Mr. Bailey complimenting me on a delicious meal, served just after we’ve had a glass of wine while the kids play in the backyard under an awesome Arizona sunset.
Those four things, as examples, are supremely satisfying at this point in my life. And you can’t recreate them (like a paycheck). And you can’t pick them up again sometime in the future (like a paycheck.)
So, arrivederci, Signore Paycheck.