I’ve never enjoyed the phrase ‘working mother.’ I suppose for starters, I’ve always found it redundant, egregiously so. Am I working mother? You’re damn right I am. 24-7, 7 days a week, I am working to make sure the King stays fed, watered, changed, bathed, and most importantly remains alive – trust me, from the slides at the park, to the deviants in society, this is not an easy feat. Not to mention all the larger intentions that fall in between the other more mundane tasks – making sure he is educated, informed, disciplined, challenged, loved, humored…ah, the list is so long that this working mother doesn’t have time to recall all the things a parent does for one’s child.
I suppose I’ve also found the mere question whether or not I’m a working mother a tad condescending. Or perhaps it’s not the question itself, but the looks that go along with it. I can’t tell you how many times a day I am asked if I am ‘working’ – and there is never more to the sentence than that. I realize I’m quibbling over semantics here, but maybe it wouldn’t bother me so much if someone – especially women, seriously what’s your excuse? - asked me if I was working outside the home? Or the alternative, if I have a job outside of being a mother? See, two very easy options that still validate the fact that mothering is a full time job, and an arduous one at that.
Am I touchy on this subject? You bet, I think most mothers are. I suppose it harks back to the worth of women and the female gender's quest to be seen as more than just one label that is slapped across our foreheads: wife, mother, career woman…object. Often, as we all know by now, being one often means that there are sacrifices to be made in other areas, sacrifices that are never easy to make. Not to mention, it always dawns on us women as we are dropping our kids off at daycare, killing ourselves with guilt over our horrible parenting choices, that most men do not have to face this fork in the road (don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are a lot of men out there who would like to be at home full time. For those of you that feel this way, I commend you).
For women it's a choice we have to make, and with that choice comes a whole heap of judgment depending on which category you fall into– the mother that also has a career (“how could you leave your children, shame on you” – not my words of course), or the ‘full time mother’ (are the other mothers considered ‘part time mothers?’ cause how condescending is that?) that has surrendered her brain for an apron and a tin full of freshly baked muffins. I'm sure there are shades of gray on this, but it often does not feel this way.
So the next person that asks me if ‘I’m working’ you better be ready for my answer: ‘Yes I’m working. I’m working on balancing my life, so that I can write, and make a living whilst raising a well-rounded kid that doesn’t end up hating me one day cause I stuck him in a daycare where they let him eat paste and never wiped his nose. I’m working on being a good partner, mother, and maintain a nice home while not surrendering my brain, my dreams, or myself. I’m working on staying in the same size jeans, not finishing all of the King’s leftovers and figuring out how to remain patient and understanding on an insomniac’s sleep diet, when the King insists on using his glass of milk as a bird bath.
So yes, I’m working. Are you?