"And why do you work?" asked the middle-aged woman from the Infants and Toddlers Program while I was being interviewed in my living room.
"I'm sorry, why do I work?"
"To make money? So my son and I have a place to live and food to eat? Isn't that why people work?"
The other women interviewers nod as they jot down notes. I know they did not write this question. I know there is a system outside them in a lofty, stale office where people type up clauses for human beings they will never interact with on how they run their lives. But down here, in my life, I am allowed to be annoyed by the question. But I do not say everything I want to say.
What I want to say is this:
"You mean, you would allow me the basic human right of actually raising my own child with the most basic comforts of home and food, without becoming a leech to a family member or friend? You mean, the government will provide for me to do so, and not condemn me for using up taxpayer dollars? That I won't have to be jealous of the daycare provider that takes my son to the zoo? Or worry about the teachers that feed him things outside his diet? You mean I could be a mother 100% of the time, and not be talked down to under florescent lighting? Sign me up. Please."
I want more time with my child. I envy people who get to homeschool. I fantasize about selling my house and buying a Winnebago and traveling across America, the beautiful bits we forgot existed. I dream of my own business, of selling art or antiques. Of a raw food truck or a bed and breakfast. But I feel trapped. The same people, up in that high office writing that question built a tiny cage of fear around my life. That I need this system, and their money, to survive. And they mock me by asking me why I work. So why do I? I work to do more work. I stay stagnant, crouched like a tigress waiting to pounce. Building up my resources, planning my strategies, and listening for the blessing that will be whispered to me when opportunity presents itself.