On Friday I went to the dentist. If I told you how long it had been since my last appointment...well...it had been a while. (I could give excuses, like switching insurance providers, but really I just hadn't prioritized finding a new dentist.)
The dentist walks in the room. He's young and adorably cute and slightly nervous. He makes small talk. He asks me what I do and if I am working that day. "I'm sure my yoga pants and sneakers scream I'm heading into the office after this" I think to myself. "No clients today" I tell him after previously mentioning that I'm a therapist. He looks a bit confused and then makes a comment about having a day off.
"Actually, I get to enjoy spending the day with my son" I explain. He asks how old he is, and a few other typical oh-you-have-a-baby questions. He reviews my x-rays with me. The hygenist comes in to clean my teeth.
As an aside: For someone who hadn't been to the dentist in over 18 months my teeth looked fantastic. You know, except that I should floss more often.
So then it's time to go and he returns to thank me again for being a new patient. Then he adds, "And enjoy your day of doing nothing!" I pause. Smile. And go on my way.
I spent the walk home kicking myself. Here's the thing: the young adorably cute dentist meant nothing by his comment. I know he wasn't trying to put down the role and value of raising a child. But, in that moment he did. I wasn't hurt, or offended. I genuinely believe it was a thoughtless comment. But I was letting down myself and other parents who work part-time or stay home to raise their children. The mindset that spending a day with a 7 month old is "doing nothing" is just plain inaccurate.
What should I have said back? I'm not entirely sure. I wish I could have encapsulated that a day with a baby makes you a teacher, a nurse, a housekeeper, a playmate, a chef, an organizer, a cuddler, a calmer, a nurturer, a dancer, a singer, and a million other things. My silence was a mistake. Lesson learned.