some women describe their job as “mom” once they have kids. my mother in law’s favorite expression to explain that she is neither afraid of nor daunted by anything is, “please. i’m a mom.” i prefer to use the term parent, because it lacks gender and it also doesn’t seem to carry with it the baggage that the word mom comes with. in some instances, the word mom has almost come to be a joke or an insult (example: mr. mom). and, calling myself a “stay-at-home-mom” elicits gag reflexes near and far (mine as well as others).
i am a mom. but it’s not my job. it’s a relationship qualifier. i am a mom in the same way that i am a wife, sister, aunt, cousin, daughter, grandma (wait, no! how did that one get in there? scratch that. whew).
do i have a job? well, i don’t get paid anything nor do i receive benefits. in this country, if you’re not on a payroll, then, to the federal government anyways, you’re not legally employed. actually, you’re irrelevant. they don’t care if you call what you do work or not. as long as you pay taxes if you are paid, that’s all that matters. in other countries, especially small tribal societies, no one is paid, or rather, everyone is paid by everyone else, because everyone depends on the work that the other people of the community do to survive. i like that. and in that type of culture, i might be a keystone and the work i do deeply appreciated. in other societies throughout history, your wealth would have been measured by how much you were able to share with others. at this time of year, when the merchants are out in full propositioning mode, i yearn for that type of existence.
again, though, im getting off topic. i don’t consider my job “mom” or even “stay-at-home-parent”, though i am both of those things. my job, if you want to give it an official sounding ring, is actually “full-time caregiver”, similar though distinct from someone that would be a full time caregiver to an elderly person.
i care round the clock for two young people. i take care of their bodies. i take care of their minds. and i take care of their spirits. i also care for their environment (my house) so that they have a comfortable and somewhat nice place to live. that’s what i do. that’s the job or the work side of my life.
i just wanted to be clear on that because it seems like people want to write you off a bit when you stay home with your kids, simply because you’re not paid for it. embarrassingly enough, a lot of people actually approach you as though you’re not even an intelligent human being when you take care of young children, as though having and then caring for your children has somehow killed off all of your brain cells and left you nothing but a shell.
if i feel this from people, it is there. and it being there, that is something greatly wrong with our culture if we view mothers (and children) in such a negative and unforgiving light. people who care for children all day are often absorbed in all things children, but just because we hold strong opinions about breastfeeding and sleep training, doesn’t make us, or shouldn’t make us, irrelevant members of society. we are in touch with life’s very beginnings, we understand human nature probably better than anyone, we have an extremely unique, creative, and probably optimistic perspective on life. if people would look past our stained clothing and kid banter and take a second look.
i’m not sure how it’s even possible that a culture has come into existence that doesn’t value a child being raised in its own family. that, to me, is what seems backwards, and would seem a bit backwards from an anthropological point of view as well. just sayin’.
well, on that light note: happy thanksgiving! drink a beer for me!