By Elle Stanger.
Hello Daughter. As I type this, you are in your bedroom, colouring and playing.
You will be four years old on Wednesday. You asked to see my new shoes today. They were a gift from a customer. “Are those for dancing?” you asked. I smiled, “Yes.” “Are they for your work?” I paused. And smiled again. “Yes.”
You’ve seen me climb on the jungle gym, faster and higher than the other mummies, toes pointed. Your father and I have told you that mummy works at night, “dancing for people”.
I’m not like most other working mummies and daddies: I don’t work five days a week, nine to five, not anymore. So those trips to the park, museum, and beach can happen any time of the day or week. I make more than a “living wage,” so I am able to splurge more comfortably on burgers, crayons, books and chocolate milks.
I am able to raise you with minimal help from childcare providers. I cherish the babysitters that I needed at intervals, but I was lucky enough to not have to put you into daycare from infancy, and then only see you for dinner and bedtime and weekends. Some parents are relegated to this in order to survive and to support their children.
Yes, sometimes when I pushed you on the swing, I would use the other hand to check emails from clients, and I was often very tired in the mornings, after dancing furiously for tips on stage all night. But it was a choice, and I chose it. And I would choose it again.
Watch. Mothers confess what they do after their children go to bed. (Post continues after video.)
You watch me shave my legs in the tub, wax my inner thighs in the kitchen, and tweeze my eyebrows in the car. You ask about body hair. I tell you, “When you’re older, if you don’t like something about your body, you can change it.” You are a toddler, and respond, “I don’t want to.” I respect your autonomy, and your ability to change your mind. So I respond, “Then you don’t have to.”
We drive past the club, on the way to a play date. I point excitedly, the red-and-black building standing still upon the busy street. “Look honey! That’s where mummy works! I dance and tell jokes and make people laugh.” Forget about the stigma. We drive past the skyscrapers, on the way to lunch. I point excitedly, the silver-gated structure reaching high as the birds, “Look honey! That’s where daddy works! He sells clothing to people.” Forget about the capitalism.
We are at home, on the dining room floor. You see me counting singles, and ask to help. I show you how to identify ones, fives, 10s, 20s. We wash our hands. “Money is dirty, it’s been all over the world,” I tell you. You ask if you can help me count. “Some of these are gunky!” is what you say, and I tell you that you can put five singles in your piggy bank. Then, we wash hands.