Just a Mother?

A few months ago, when I was picking up the children atschool, another mother I knew well rushed up to me. Emily was fuming withindignation.

"Do you know what you and I are?" she demanded.Before I could answer - and I didn't really have one handy - she blurtedout the reason for her question. It seemed she had just returned from renewingher 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, "Doyou have a job, or are you just a . . . . . . ?"

"Of course I have a job," snapped Emily. "I'ma 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 myselfin the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviouslya 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 poppedout. "I'm . . . . a Research Associate in the field of Child Developmentand Human Relations."

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in mid-air, andlooked up as though she had not heard right. I repeated the title slowly,emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as mypompous 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 field?"

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heardmyself reply,

"I have a continuing program of research (what motherdoesn't) in the laboratory and in the field (normally I would have saidindoors and out). I'm working for my Masters (the whole darned family)and already have four credits (all daughters). Of course, the job is oneof the most demanding in the humanities (any mother care to disagree?) andI often work 14 hours a day (24 is more like it).

But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-millcareers and the rewards are in satisfaction rather than just money."

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk'svoice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me tothe 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. And upstairs,I could hear our new experimental model (six months) in the child-developmentprogram, testing out a new vocal pattern.

I felt triumphant. I had scored a beat on bureaucracy.And I had gone down on the official records as someone more distinguishedand indispensable to mankind than "just another . . . . . ."

Home . . . what a glorious career. Especially when there'sa title on the door.

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Submitted to website by: Jamie Rustad MeagherP>Submitted to website by: Jamie Rustad Meagher