One Mom’s Description

Ballpoint pen writing. Streaks of ink are visi...

I couldn’t believe my eyes and my mouth hung open while I read this. Then the chuckling began and grew until I was laughing too loudly for the library. This is great!

Found on the Internet:

A woman named Emily, renewing her driver’s license at the County Clerk’s office, encountered a woman recorder demanding to know her occupation. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.

“What I mean is this,” explained the recorder, “do you have a job, or are you just a . . . “

“Of course I have a job,” snapped Emily. “I’m a mom.”

“We don’t list ‘Mom’ as an occupation. ‘Housewife’ covers it,” said the recorder.

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: Town Registrar.

“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 pronouncement appeared in bold, blue ink on the official questionnaire.

“Might I ask,” said the clerk with new interest, “just what you do in your field?”

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself replying, “I manage a continuing program of research, in the laboratory and in the field (normally I would have said ‘indoors and out’.) I’m working on my Master’s, 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?) (any dad care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day (24 is more like it.) But the job is more challenging than most careers and the rewards are more of a certain satisfaction rather than mere 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, my glamorous new career buoying me, three of my lab assistants – ages 13, 7, and 3, approached to greet me. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model (the 6-month-old baby,) in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern. I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy!

And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable, to many, than “just another mom.”

Motherhood – what a glorious career! And what fun to have a title on the door!

Does this make grandmothers “Senior Research Associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations” and great-grandmothers “Executive Senior Research Associates?

I think so.

I also think it makes aunts “Associate Research Assistants”.

May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart!

Please forward this to anyone you want.

And what about you? Can you make up some clever response for this age-old competition/comparison?

How do YOU answer when they want to know if you work, where, or your work phone number? Later, I will post my usual answer(s).


photo credit: Wikipedia

Published by Katharine

Katharine is a writer, speaker, women's counselor, and professional mom. Happily married over 50 years to the same gorgeous guy. She loves cooking amazing homegrown food, celebrating grandbabies, her golden-egg-laying hennies, and watching old movies with popcorn. Her writing appears at Medium, Arkansas Women Bloggers, Contently, The Testimony Train, Taste Arkansas, Only in Arkansas, and in several professional magazines and one anthology.

25 thoughts on “One Mom’s Description

  1. When I was a stay-at-home mom, and when I was a homeschooling mom, I always replied, “Yes!” when asked if I worked. I worked at home, so the same phone number applied. It is still true since I am now self-employed (at home) as an artist.

  2. I love this reply. Isn’t it amazing that “mom” isn’t acceptable but given some fancy title it changes the entire picture! There definitely is something wrong when “Mom” isn’t enough. I must say I’ve found myself in plenty of opportune moments that I have come up with similar replies…but yours is the best! I’m laughing at this and I’ve sent it on to my sister. Now, relax and enjoy your son’s wedding. You’ve had a lot to contend with losing two close friends recently. Thanks for this post.

  3. Katharine I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. You have been an inspiration to me as well as sharing my daughter Katharine’s name.
    To claim – go to hppt:// and follow instructions

  4. I really like “Homemaker.” There’s so much power and love in that word, I think. Although, I usually just say “self-employed” now that I have my doula and childbirth education work.

  5. I just say I work at home. I guess I’m not very creative. And maybe part of it is that I don’t see a need to label it in any special way. To the right people, my job title and description mean more than a Master’s in whatever. And the opinions of those people and that of my Heavenly Father are the opinions I value most. Of course it bothers me when some don’t see the value in what I do, but I try not to let that get me down.

    1. Hi, Victoria, It usually doesn’t bother me, either, unless they won’t let me write a check! 😉
      And as long as my family is happy and well-supplied, I’m not too adamant about any of it. I just found this cute story and thought it would be fun.

    1. One time, only, I encountered someone who was able to decipher what I actually meant, or suspected she did, and gave me the oddest look. So I had pity on her and told her “I homeschool”. She about fell out laughing. That was fun.

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