Why do mothers of all kinds, stay at home, work from home, work outside the home, forget to realize that being a mother is a very real and legit job? In the back of my brain, behind all the cobwebs, I’m well aware of the truth. I know how important my work is. But I have noticed that sometimes, I find myself feeling like I need to justify “what I do all day.” To be fair, no one has ever asked me this question. If they had, I would be writing this from prison. Even a simple inquiry such as, “Yesterday was so beautiful! How do you and E end up enjoying the day?” will make me cringe if I can’t come up with a fascinating Stepford mommy answer lickety-split. “Well first, we went outside, and while E was telling me the difference between a deciduous tree and a coniferous tree using Latin terms, we spotted a caterpillar! This led to an excellent teachable moment where I planned to explain to him how the caterpillar develops into a butterfly. I had barely began when he interrupted me to finish explaining the life cycle of a caterpillar! I was so proud, and I completely forgot that I had already taught him all about it during our regular nature walks last spring. Then we decided to have a picnic lunch, so we went inside and made sandwiches from homemade gluten-free bread. Wait until I tell you about our afternoon!”
That would impress the socks off you, right? There’s a mom who’s doing her job like a boss! Now, what would you think if I answered your question honestly? “Um, let’s see. Our day didn’t really start until 11 AM because I was up with E holding warm compresses on his ear every couple hours. After lunch, E seemed to feel well enough to go outside to play, so we headed out to the yard to throw a ball around. We had been outside for five seconds, possibly ten, when E heard a bee. He didn’t see the bee, but he heard the bee, and he was pretty sure the buzzing was getting louder because the bee was getting closer and it was hell bent on stinging him. I did see the bee, a giant bumble that was pollinating my flowers, so I tried to explain to E that most bees are very helpful and have no interest in stinging. I had gotten three words out when he turned and raced at top speed back to the house and began pounding on the patio door to get inside, sobbing for me to hurry lest the bee attack and sting me, too. When he calmed down, I made him his lunch of macaroni and cheese from a box and some green beans that were probably the GMO kind. I dunno, I got them on sale. Wait until I tell you about our afternoon!”
No mother that I know likes to be asked how she spends her time on the job. There aren’t any tests or systems of measurement that tell you how good you are doing and therefore you are left to your own imagination. You can’t enter your activities into an app each night and ask it to calculate your level of productivity for that day. No supervisor* shows up at your residence periodically to “observe” you in action and evaluate your efficacy, leaving you with some strategic suggestions for areas that need improvement.
Perhaps the key lies in redefining what a “job” actually is. Is it about money? If you have a real job, is it a requirement you receive a real paycheck? What about people who receive money but have no job, like Paris Hilton or pick-a-Kardashian?
When I was a teacher, I didn’t justify nothin’ to no one. One answer to all questions: I’m a teacher. Mic drop.
It is high time to stop letting me manipulate…..me. I don’t owe the world a big fat explanation about what I do all day. I’m a mother, and that should tell you all you need to know, Joe.
*Under no circumstances should your spouse attempt to fulfill your desperate need for evaluation. Just, no.