"Sad about what?" I asked with some trepidation. It had been a rough evening, behavior-wise, and I fully expected a complaint about having been sent to bed while our game-night guests were still here. Instead, in a quavering voice he admitted he was, "Sad because you had to quit your job."
I did a quick double-take. It had been a week or more ago, but I did indeed recall having talked about having quit my job when he was about to be born, just over six years ago. I don't even remember why it had come up, but in typical James fashion he'd asked lots of questions about the job, why I'd quit, how one goes about quitting, whether I'd liked it, and etc. As I had liked it quite a lot, I answered in considerable detail. Somehow this had touched off his compassionate side - which is honestly not in evidence nearly as much as I'd like it to be - and many days later he was suddenly very upset to imagine himself the cause of my having given up something I loved.
My reprimands quite forgotten, I immediately began to reassure him that giving up my job to raise kids had been part of my plan from the very beginning.
"Way back when I was Gracie's age," I told him, "I knew that I wanted to grow up and be a Mommy. And I knew that I wanted to be the kind of mommy who stayed home with my kids all the time instead of considering to work. So when I went to college, I was looking for someone to be my kids' daddy, but I didn't find anyone. I dated someone, but one of the reasons I didn't choose him is because it was very clear that he'd never have the sort of job that would allow me to stay home with my kids.
After college, I worked at several places, hoping maybe I would find someone to be my kids' daddy. But no-one turned up. Finally, I used the computer to look for someone, and sure enough, I found your Daddy, who was looking for someone to be his kids' mommy. And one of things I liked about him is that he'd studied hard and worked hard to get the kind of job that would allow me to stay home and take care of you.
So, when you came along, I just did what I had always planned to do, since I was a little girl. Sure, I liked my job. It was fun, and I was good at it. But it wasn't Important. Now I have an Important job, just like I always wanted!"
"An important job that's also fun!" James chimed in. And then went peacefully to bed.
Needless to say, I was not permitted to bask in the warm glow of successful parenting for any length of time. The very next morning I had to deal with the aftermath of a truly Rube Goldbergian plan to rig a bucket of water and/or dirt to fall on my head when I opened his door, thus forcing me to divert to the shower rather than persist in my nefarious plan to make him put away his train tracks. (Yes, I know, it was a serious struggle for me not to laugh too!) Thankfully I caught it before there was more than a damp spot on the bedroom floor - and Not on anyone's head - but sadly, he chose to turn his considerable creative powers towards concocting an entirely false record of events that pinned the blame on his little sister. I think he even convinced himself! Worse, despite many invitations and warnings, he refused to change his story until confronted with the version I'd extracted from his other sister.
Bedtime that night consisted me of teaching him the phrase "a scrupulous adherence to the truth." (Hey, never waste a teachable moment, right?!)
The funny thing is, I remember joking with my coworkers just before I left that the time would soon come when I'd eagerly take on a "Sev 2" tech support issue over the Sev 2 diaper I needed to change. But honestly, I never would. I'll stick with my Important Job, even when it means dealing with buckets of water on the head.