Why I Come To Work Everyday

This week New York saw one of its greatest natural disasters with the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy. Homes and workplaces were destroyed in some areas. My town lost power, and many of the people in my community may be sitting in the dark for a week or more, and we count ourselves lucky in my little village up the Hudson River.Despite Mayoral proclamations, closed bridges, no mass transit and gloomy traffic to New York City, I decided to come to work today, even though I knew my usual one and a half  hour commute (each way) would probably be more like three hours. Its Halloween, and I knew the families that frequent our space would be going stir crazy after three days in the apartment. Besides, we’d planned a little party and I thought some people might be counting on us being open.Around two PM, as I was beginning to set up for the non-scary Haunted House for toddlers, two fifteen year old boys came into the space with smirks on their faces. As I do with every person who comes into the space, I jumped out from behind the front desk and asked them if they’d like a tour. I could tell they were doing their best to keep their giggles at bay.

“I have three sons”, I said to them. “I know exactly what you’re thinking.” Then, I launched into my usual speech about their being marble museums, mustard museums and car museums, but no museum before the Museum Of Motherhood, that talks about how we got to the planet, and how families have been evolving since the beginning of time. They nodded their heads.

The first exhibit, hanging in the entryway is made up of art photographs by Capucine Bourcart. The photos feature naked pregnant bellies painted, decorated and dressed in fanciful ways. One belly has a highway drawn across it, one is wrapped in red ribbon and one has dollar bills draping it. The boys dutifully nodded their heads as I explained how we feature different artists each month at M.O.M.

“You’ll have to remove your shoes”, I told them to come into the main space.

“We like to keep it clean for the babies to crawl.” I noticed one of the boys eyeing the pregnancy simulator vests.

“Would you like to try those on”, I asked. They looked unsure, but I quickly told them that we’d had tours with Yale University, Smith College and Marymount to name a few, and that they had all tried the vests on.

They picked up the vests, one simulating a full-term pregnancy, one simulating a five month pregnancy, and I snapped the vests on from behind.

“Now, try taking your shoes off”, I told them. They started giggling and had a heck of a time bending over their inflated stomachs and breasts to get a hold of their show laces.

“Its okay”, I said. “You don’t have to be like this for nine months”.

We spent another half hour or so touring the space, these teenage boys and I. We talked about Suffragettes, Foundling Wheels and Seneca Falls, New York where the National Women’s Hall Of Fame is. We had a grand time.

On their way out, one of the boys turned to me and said, “This is better than I thought it’d be. Its actually really good”.

“Thank you”, I said, and told him to come back and visit with his whole high school class.

If you’re wondering why I brave hurricanes, why I often work more days in a week, than there are hours in a month, if you wonder why I do what I do, then ask no more. Those boys are the reason I come to work every day. It’s the feeling of knowing that their minds are expanded in provocative and informative ways, that may very well influence how they move forward with their partner or families some day.

Or, it might be the woman who came in last week, whose toddlers played, while she read books from the library.

“What are you reading”, I asked?

“I come here to find out as much as I can to be a better person, and a more informed mother”, she responded. “You see, I was beaten as a child, and I want to do better than that with my kids”.

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