All the Jobs I wish I did Not Have

Happy belated Mothers Day. I thought that this year, I would express my gratitude for all the opportunities and surprises motherhood has given me. Specifically, all the alternative career paths I have been able to explore as a result of having children. I expected that my chosen career in teaching would render me highly qualified for motherhood, and while it has helped, I am left thinking ten years later that for all the self-help and expert advice out there for mothers on raising kids there is no course or book that prepares one for all the skills and jobs that are required. Although there are many, below are two of my “favorite” mother-jobs.


I knew I would have to cook meals. I knew I’d have to deal with rejection of my culinary efforts as vegetables are pushed away, and chicken delicately prepared with breadcrumbs, or Saucy Susan is doused in ketchup to disguise the children’s belief in the ineptitude of my cooking skills. What I did not know is that I’d also have to be a waitress. Now, if I had wanted to be a waitress, if I believed I had the skills necessary to meet the requirements for this job, then I would have pursued this at an earlier time of my life. But the thing is, when I am around food, I like to eat, not serve. Food and conversation or maybe the newspaper. Instead, I eat in between filling water glasses. (My own fault, my self assigned seat is next to the water cooler) I take a bite of food and before chewing, I am up and off to the fridge for someone’s salad dressing. I deliver the dressing, manage to swallow another bite, but then another customer wants me to get up and pour the dressing on a very particular place on his plate, out of the way of all the other food groups. Of course, as I slide back into my seat and manage to take one spoonful, all the time cognizant that my hot meal is no longer hot, a crash hits the floor and I am up again to help one of the vertically challenged customers replace silverware since they can’t reach the drawers themselves. Finally, I give a sigh of relief as the customers finish their meal, push away their plates- or if I am lucky and they remember- help the kitchen staff by clearing their plates. I am, at last, alone with my food, and three types of salad dressing, ketchup, dirty napkins, a filthy table screaming for Fantastik and a sponge, and half eaten-maybe- even- chewed up and spit out pasta or chicken (never fish!). Suddenly, I am no longer hungry. A natural appetite suppressant! I get up and clean up after the customers, and when the table is sparkling and my kitchen once again shines I look at the table that was so recently a war zone. It is empty. What, no tip?


My liberal arts education did not prepare me for detective work. I didn’t take so much as a forensics course in college. Yet there are numerous occasions when these skills are required. For example, the missing sneaker. There is inevitably one missing two minutes before the bus pulls up or we have to leave for ballet. “Retrace your steps,” and “when do you last remember seeing it?” is my frantic line of questioning as I sprint from corner to corner, up and down two flights of stairs searching and smelling for the missing footwear. Not that I haven’t learned anything. My babysitter, having had four kids of her own, taught me about the most unlikely of hiding places, like the hamper where each of my toddlers has stowed a shoe or two.

Then, of course there is solving the “whodunit?” crimes that come along with a house full of children. Some, like “Who took Daddy’s brush?” is an easy one to solve (always the daughter—the only one who brushes her hair) and since there is no innocent until proven guilty in our house, we only need to threaten punishment to retrieve the missing item. Other crimes, like, “who lost the remote?” are much trickier. The culprit could be any one of the three children, and all three will deny involvement. No line of questioning seems to help move us closer to solving this type of crime. And often, the discovery of the missing remote is made after the children are tucked in for the night and I am collapsing on the couch looking forward to my favorite sit-com. Perhaps a detective would tell me that this is an excellent opportunity to solve the crime—the suspects are vulnerable and will answer anything- if you shake them awake and shine a flashlight in their eyes. Although tempting, I need only to see the angelic faces on my sleeping cherubs to know that this one will go unsolved until 6:00 AM when one of them wants to watch. Either that or I can post a notice for a cash reward. Money talks.

While theft is perhaps the most common offense, the more gruesome felonies, like assault, are even harder to crack. I am fortunate that my children are not more prone to violence, but there is the occasional blood curdling scream followed by a cry and an accusation of pulled hair, or kicked leg. I am ill-equipped to deal with these cases. All evidence is circumstantial, and trying to uncover the truth becomes a veritable “he says, she says.” Even if there is a witness, he or she is never impartial, and is likely to side with the sibling who has most recently been nice to him. So the deed goes unpunished. There is no justice in the world, or in my home.

Published in: on May 13, 2010 at 1:26 am  Leave a Comment