Friday, April 17, 2009

Who isn't working?

I have been trying to write the beginning sentence of this post for five minutes. I've been tripping over the phrase I want to use instead of "working mom". I hate the phrase "working mom" because every woman who is a mother works her ass off everyday, whether her day takes her to power lunches, court dates, playdates or storytimes. Being a mother (a parent) is work...non-stop work. As illustration:

I am a relatively lazy human being, at least in my mind when I compare what I do (and want to do) with what I see and hear other people accomplishing. But in the course of any day I will do all or most of these tasks at least once:
Make a meal
Clean up dishes after that meal
Dress a member of my family (sometimes even myself)
Sweep the floor
Get someone a drink or snack
Read a picture book
Walk to the grocery store
Wipe a butt
Clean up a mess I didn't make
Dance to the radio
Exercise (going for a jog or head to the Y)
Go to the neighborhood playground
Post a status update on facebook
Read and write emails
Clean a room or part of a room
Play choo choos
Put toys away in the toy box

And that is not an exhaustive list, because of course I eat, sleep, and watch TV just like everyone else. And I didn't include activities related to work or volunteering, but you get the idea. Even in "not working" there is a lot of work going on.

I actually see going to my office as my leisure time, in certain ways it is. I can wear nice clothes, read books on the bus, eat whatever I want for lunch, talk to adults, think about whatever I want, create useful things, share ideas, and even goof off. Off course, I love my family time at home, even the cleaning and cooking parts (ok, not the cleaning parts). I like spending two days a week with my son, going on little adventures in the neighborhood and seeing friends. Those days are luxuries. I know that. But they are luxuries that wear me out. Loving and caring for another human, especially a 2 1/2 year old human boy, is intense and endless work. But I won't say it is thankless work. I get thanked everyday in word and in action: in smiles, in hugs, in wonder, in laughter, in words. It's awesome.

So back to the original point (if there was one)...what do we call ourselves? Are we "stay-at-home mothers"? Are we "work-outside-the-home mothers"? Are we "working mothers"? Or are we just mothers doing the best we can with what we have? Why do we allow ourselves to be divided and labeled, pitted against each other in the Mommy Wars? When we are all just women loving our families and doing our best to keep our heads above water. We are all working moms.


  1. It would be great to get rid of the labels wouldn't it? Every time I say I'm a working mom I'm always so quick to say that my husband stays home, like it's a bad thing if he didn't and our kid was in day care. Which we may be in that boat next year anyway, and I guess any choice in parenting is going to be a hard one so I don't know why I feel the need to put people in boxes so much when I myself hate being stuck in them.

  2. Thank you for stating your love of life AWAY from your kid. I always feel I have to explain my need to go to work, or a coffee shop, for some time away. I usually say, I'm not the stay-at-home-mom type. but why should I have to explain myself? just because I enjoy (and need) my time away, doesn't mean I don't love my kids.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.