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Defining Moments

T

he house was beautiful with nothing out of place. The lawn was mowed to a perfect height with colorful flowers and shrubbery decorating the border. The walkway was clean, not a stone tipped away, and the steps up to the front door seemed almost untouched by the haphazardly world. PotWritten and Photographed by Caitlin Lewis ted plants overflowing with different flowers and buds decorated the walkway as I walked up to the door, greeted cheerfully by Janie Jaffe. She smiled largely, like I was her closest friend, and invited me in. The inside of the house was no less perfect from the outside. Each piece was beautifully decorated and exact. The vases matched perfectly, as well as the flowers that were placed in them. The sink was empty and shining, and the dishwasher had a light, warm hum buzzing from it. As I sat down, Janie offered me a snack or a drink, politely listing options. After I declined, she sat down across from me. She began asking me about my life and my family, curious about what has changed since I last saw her. The family cat, Coco, was rubbing his forehead against my leg as we began the interview. This place felt as close to home as home did. But little did I know, I was talking to a superhero. Janie is one of thousands of super heroes with skills few can match, yet with a name that is rarely recognized. She is one of the set designers and stagecraft of life, the foundation of all possibilities; the people who make it all happen. They need a vast amount of skills to do the most important and difficult job of them all: create the future. And yet, they are underappreciated and underspoken in a world so focused on power. When you ask a group of children what they want to be when they grow up, they list off jobs such as “President, astronaut, video game tester� and decide, starry eyed and unknowing, that those jobs are the most important to a powerful country. They forget the people who set the foundation for learning and living. The people who spend extensive amounts of money and time making futures possible The people who devote their lives, 24/7, to those who will become the future presidents, astronauts, and video game testers of tomorrow. The moms.


Janie Jaffe has been a mom for seventeen and a half years, raising her daughter Morgan. She took an extra step that most would not to become a mother: She and her husband adopted their daughter, Morgan. Janie had previously worked as an accountant controller for an electronics company, and before that, a customer service rep for a ticket, tag, and label company. However, she left her job when she adopted Morgan. There was no doubt that she enjoyed working both jobs, but she would not think twice about going back to either of them. The job she has now, the job of being a parent, is far more important to her. She was raised with the expectation that she will become a mom, but she views it differently. She sees it as a job in training. “That’s what it is; its a job in training. You you want to turn out a fine specimen, so its if you’ve done your job in training that direction... It’s a job from the moment you start until you’re done. Because you are constantly in training; training your child... You’ve got to make sure when you give them instructions, they follow the instructions and if they don’t, there are consequences and if you do there are rewards, kind of like a bonus in a job. The only difference is you can’t fire them because they’re still there.” Mom’s aren’t always considered a job, though. It has bounced between different opinions in politics, some claiming it is a job while others arguing that it is not. Hilary Rosen argued that moms weren’t a job. She was specifically attacking specifically Ann Romney and claiming that she had “never worked a day in her life.” However, the next day Obama went up and argued that there was “no tougher job than being a mom.” Even on a smaller scale, the idea behind a mom being a job or not still exists. Margaret Feike, a woman that had been a mom and had raised her kids, argues that it isn’t. “Motherhood is not a


job. No more than being a wife or a daughter or a pet owner is a job.” This is going against the popular Oprah Winfrey Show where she continuously states that “Motherhood is the most difficult job on the planet.” I look at my mom, a mother of four, and what she had to go through every day. I think now about how much she had to give up to let us go where we want and do what we want, and how much time she spent helping us. It seemed like every day was all about us, 24/7. And she never complained. Everyone has seen a child in the store that whines and screams when they don’t get what they want, and everyone has seen the valiant storybook child who walks the man across the street or helps a lady put her groceries in her car. Can these be classified as results of parenting, moments of pride, or just the essence of a bad day? Janie uses these moments she sees her daughter as a marker point of if she is doing her job correctly. She’s spent the past seventeen and a half years of her life devoted to making her daughter someone she would be proud of. Her most rewarding feeling is “If I knew that my daughter was doing something on her own that I didn’t tell her to do, that I would have done. An example would be if she were to help someone like put groceries in the car without me saying go help her do that. If i saw her doing that one her own, that would be a good memory.” By doing this, she can judge if she has been doing her job correctly or not.


However, decisions are not always black and white. There come times when she has to make hard decisions that really can define the life of her daughter. One happened when her daughter got her licence and was going to buy her car. The deal was that if she got all very high grades this semester, they would pay for half of her car. Janie, her husband, and Morgan all agreed to this. By the end of the semester, her report card came and one grade was barely not up to par with the restrictions of the rules for this decision. As a result, Janie had to decide weather to bend the rules and still let her daughter get the car, which would make driving to school and to practice and shopping much easier, or to keep them standing strong and let her suffer the consequences. After discussing it with her husband, they decided not to buy a car, but lease a car. That way, she enough to pay for the monthly leasing bill. So she would still hold the repercussions, but still be able to drive herself to the places she needed to drive to. This was a difficult decision that would make her decide between teaching her daughter consequences, and making life a little easier on herself. There are times when its harder to get the desired reaction from her child and she begins to doubt her parenting skills. It’s when “I’m not sure I’ve done the right training. Not sure I’ve done the right thing. Like, did I forget to teach you this or did I forget to teach you that. You know, like, did I forget to teach you table manners because I see you not using them or you know, do you really know them and you’re just not using them. To me, the negative is not sure that I’ve done my job correctly.” At these moments, the difficulty of parenting becomes apparent. Every act of defiance or rude behavior is a sign that something isn’t correct in the training and she has mistaught something. At this moment, its hard for a parent to decide what to do. And, like all jobs, there are hardships and there are parts that remind you why it is worth it. What reminds her of how wonderful her job is is when she can see it through her daughters eyes. “It’s totally different then through mine. A lot of times with kids its just television and not the whole picture. I wake up on Christmas morning and see all the gifts and I think “wow, that happened over night?” and “Look what happened!” But what you don’t see is all the prep that goes into it. All the questions that you ask, all the weeks, days, months, in advance to make sure that the experience is a good one that day.” That prep is just another part of the job. Those sneaky questions and subtle hints are an important part that goes into that life. She’s reaching the end of her job now though, as Morgan is finishing her Senior year in high school andis beginning the preparation to start her life in college. As imagined, her life will begin to slow and relax as Morgan leaves. And what will she do?


Profile-Caitlin-Lewis