Just A Mom
A few months ago, when I was picking up the children at school, another mother
I knew well rushed up to me. Emily was fuming with indignation. "Do you know
what you and I are?" she demanded.
Before I could answer- and I didn't really have one handy - she blurted out
the reason for her question. It seemed she had just returned from renewing
her driver's license at The County Clerk's office. Asked by the woman recorder
to state her occupation, Emily had hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.
"What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job, or are you
just a .....?"
"Of course I have a job," snapped Emily. "I'm a mother."
"We don't list 'mother' as an occupation... 'housewife' covers it," said
the recorder emphatically.
I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation,
this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career woman,
poised, efficient, and possessed of a high-sounding title like "Official
Interrogator" or "Town Registrar." "And what is your occupation?" she probed.
What made me say it, I do not know. The words simply popped out. "I'm
a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."
The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though
she had not heard right.
I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then
I stared with wonder as my pompous pronouncement was written in bold, black
ink on the official questionnaire.
"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your
Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I
have a continuing program of research (what mother doesn't) in the laboratory
and in the field (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working
for my Masters (the whole darned family) and already have four credits (all
daughters). "Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities
(any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day (24 is more
like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers
and the rewards are in satisfaction rather than just money."
There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed
the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.
As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was
greeted by my lab assistants - ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could
hear our new experimental model (6 months) in the child-development program,
testing out a new vocal pattern. I felt triumphant! I had scored
a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records
as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another