Labour Day, 2009

     People might get the impression that I am negative about returning to work tomorrow after a summer at home. But, the thing is, I’m really not. When I was basking and sighing in the kitchen gadget section of IKEA on Saturday, I had a thought. I don’t hate going to work. It’s just that I love to be at home. I am domestic.

     I will always remember the garage mechanic I talked to many years ago when I was in teachers’ college. I was in picking up my car, and he asked me what I was up to. When I told him I was in my last year of school, he said, “What are you doing all that for? You’re just going to get married and have kids any way.”

    I was filled with all the outrage an indignant twenty-two year old young woman could muster. Ok, it was rude. Wrong, on many levels…but maybe not all levels…?

     Women have worked long and hard to get where we are in the work force. My good education, my career with its respectable wage and benefits, my job security–these things I take for granted were not earned easily. And it’s not that I’m not grateful. And my work, for all its system flaws and aggravations, is meaningful. Rewards in teaching are endless, and the opportunity to make significant differences in people’s lives is always there for the taking. I like my job. But as I get ready for work in the morning, making beds and tidying the kitchen, what am I thinking about? Coming home. Sometimes at school, when I catch a break and let my thoughts drift, they usually lead me to my back yard where my sweet-smelling laundry is fluttering on the clothesline, or to all my colourful jars of homemade jams, flanking the tops of my cupboards and looking so pretty…

     When I’m at the grocery store standing in the checkout lines, I am not perusing the tabloids or the flat abs in two weeks! headlines. I’m looking at Martha, her fingers lingering over a perfect fall floral arrangement, or an array of pretty sugar cookies splayed across a simple crystal plate. Laundry rooms with fluffy folded towels in wicker baskets, sun streaming into rooms with hardwood floors and colourful pillows. Pies with latticed crusts, trifles with intricate layers.

     What’s wrong with being domestic? It’s not a bad word. Lots of women stay home. A surprising amount, actually. They’re quiet about it. It’s not something to be proud of these days. I am envious of them. I don’t want to give up my salary or my lifestyle, and yet….I so badly do.

     So, I straddle these two worlds–library books, lesson plans, yard duty and meetings under one foot, and crock pots, pyrex, vacuum cleaners and laundry baskets under the other.

     The first day of school is exciting, and I am looking forward to it. But the best part of my day will be going home.