Motherhood: Sidestepping the Rat Race or Stomping on the Tails

It’s nothing new “housewife”, “stay at home parent”, “full time mom”, are all given lip service as something somewhere between “the hardest job on earth” and “must be so nice”.  I say “something” because it is not often regarded as a job in the traditional sense.

The Oxford English Dictionary has two definitions of job:

A paid position of regular employment.
A task or piece of work, especially one that is paid.

Stay at home parenthood lacks one of the aforementioned things: pay.

A recent post by Erin Almond on Cognoscenti Why Do We Continue To Stigmatize Stay at Home Moms? written as a reaction to a story about back stabbing housewives in Boston Magazine, has brought the topic up for discussion again.  I don’t have any answers and I know it is a very complex issue.  Parenthood and work are two very touchy issues especially for women.  Some of the problems have to do with just parenthood and others have to do with just work.  Somehow, we think they can be intertwined and that we can figure out one perfect solution and an answer the ultimate question:  Who is better than whom? which is as we all know a totally misguided question.

All I really want to say on the topic is that many years ago, if I remember correctly it was before children or I may have just had my daughter, I was at a work party with my husband.  After already being mocked for not being “one of us” at this business world holiday party, I was a teacher at the time and apparently stuck out like a sore thumb, I moved on and continued the horrific task of small talk with a bunch of people with whom I had nothing in common.  I met a woman and asked her what she did, and she replied “I raise three girls.”  Those four words made the room feel just a bit brighter and just made so much sense to me.  I swore I’d use that reply when the time came, but for some reason I rarely do.

Yes, most of my job is to be home for my family and raise my children.  I chose to do so.  I love that I have the freedom to do so.  I also choose to do other work on the side for my own sanity.  My choices are not a judgement on anyone else’s choices or lack thereof. Just like Erin, I hesitate to use the word stay at home mom because, just like teacher, just like chef, just like baker, just like engineer, just like dancer we have a stereotypical image of what that looks like in our minds.  The truth is I don’t know what my husband does for a living.  I don’t know what it means to be an engineer.  I don’t know what it means to be a chef (or a #WomeninWhite).  I don’t know what it means to be a dancer. We bring assumptions to our mental picture of each of these jobs.

Let’s just admit that we really don’t know each other all that well.  Sometimes what we do for a living matters.  Sometimes what we did for a living mattered.  Sometimes who we are as people, employees, community members matters a whole lot more.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Akriti says:

    Really nice 🙂

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  2. Peg Doran says:

    Thanks! I shared this with my friends Too!

    Sent from my iPhone

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  3. Regina says:

    That goes down like honey….thank you Leah!

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    1. leahklein says:

      Sweet! Thank you .

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  4. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve always struggled with the label stay-at-home-mom as well. I am currently working part-time (as a teacher) and I don’t really think of myself as a working mom either.

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    1. leahklein says:

      Thanks for sharing. We’re all in this together. All different but all part of this community. I was a teacher before I had my kids and for me going back to teach wasn’t something I felt I could do, and I was lucky enough to be able to stay home. I loved teaching, but I didn’t feel I could spend my days teaching young kids and then come back to my own children and give them a fair share of my attention. I have other friends who felt the opposite they needed to go back to their classroom so they could be their best for their children during their time home with them.

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      1. I am struggling with that dynamic right now. I go to work and see young children, only a few years older than my son. By the time I get home, I feel like I’ve used up all my energy and patience on the children at my school. It is very hard and I’m hoping to stay at home next year, or get a different part-time job that is less demanding.

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      2. leahklein says:

        It’s not easy. I have to admit though, even though I’m home and my kids are in school, there are plenty of days when I’m just wiped out and not the best parent by the time my two are home from school. It’s all a delicate balance and a lifetime of trial and error with a few perfect moments here and there. I hope you find your “sweet spot” soon.

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  5. notlikeacat says:

    I love this. I’m still working on my answer to the question, “What do you do?” because work and identity are so intertwined for me.

    Like

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