Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tim can do it. We don't help.

At my wedding, as part of my dad's toast, I recall him joking about the dismaying day when I announced that the steep tuition money he was spending on my Notre Dame education was going to go towards an English major. To paraphrase quite a bit, he offered Tim his condolences. Sure, Tim was a fellow English major, but his double major in economics helped land him a more lucrative job in the financial world than the one I scraped together in magazines. Well, that and the greater amount of drive and ambition Tim possesses when it comes to careers.

Never having made a great deal of money in my various positions, it was an easy decision for me to stay at home with the kids, particularly since I wanted to do so. There are days when I know that Tim is relieved that he gets to walk out the door while I change the diaper, referee the arguments, and prepare countless, unappreciated meals. But regardless of how appealing it is to leave the house for a few hours - and of course there are many times when he'd prefer to stay and hang out - the burden of being the sole breadwinner is firmly planted on Tim's shoulders.

I try to appreciate this as best I can, knowing when to ask him about his day, and when to let him leave it at the office door. Kids being kids, though, Clare and Danny live in their self-centered worlds where the food always shows up in the kitchen and the clothes always fit. While "Hi, Daddy-at-work!" is a phrase the kids and I routinely call out whenever we drive past his office in Home Depot's headquarters, I know they don't give much thought to that "work" part. It's a large, imposing, and elusive building where Daddy has a lot of meetings. And lunch.

Well, today we cracked open this mysterious world just a bit by joining Daddy for lunch in the Home Depot cafeteria. Clare has been clamoring to do this - specifically to eat pizza - for quite a while, so we took her unexpected holiday from school as the opportunity to do so. As Tim said, after three-and-a-half years, the cafeteria has grown a bit tired for him, so he often prefers to venture out. But to Clare and Danny, it was exciting. In fact, Danny walked through and exclaimed, "Wow! This is amazing!"

And if he thought the cafeteria was amazing, you can only imagine his thoughts on the museum, which we visited next. (Yeah, the place has its own museum. It's pretty big, this headquarters.) Clare remembered the Mickey Mouse at the entrance to the museum from the last time we visited, which was approximately two-and-a-half years ago (Danny was soooo tiny, and we did not eat in the cafeteria). Danny was wowed by the tools, and construction guys, and the baseball bat! And football helmet! (No, I have no idea what those things were doing in there. You think I read the plaques?)

I'm not going to say that the kids walked away from their visit with any greater appreciation for Tim's hard work. (Although Danny did ask him how his meetings were, so he clearly has a general concept of what Tim does all day.) I do think it helps them to have a visual of where he spends his days, and over time hopefully this will blossom into understanding. In the meantime, we sign off with not our usual mantra of "Just work harder, Tim" but rather, "Thanks, Daddy."

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