I am an unpaid, full-time employee of my children. There are the days when I can’t believe I left a job I truly enjoyed and was good at to stay home. In my previous life, I wrote and edited scientific literature for the Department of Energy. Occasionally I got to travel to DC, wear a suit, pass through security clearance with my government badge, and take meetings about exhibits and displays for government conferences. I loved flying into Dulles, taking a cab to my hotel in Dupont Circle, and carrying a briefcase. But, as much as I loved my job we didn’t “need” the money and my premature son did need me. So, I walked away.
Ten years later I am still (technically) unemployed. I am an unpaid, working mom. Most days, I’m more than fine with that. Yes. I cook and clean and manage the house. But, I also have the freedom to climb the stairs at Red Rocks in the morning and then meet a friend for lunch if I want or to drop the kids at school and head up for a half day of skiing occasionally. It’s a fairly substantial perk. The lack of paychecks sucks, but the freedom of being my own boss (at least when the kids are in school) is awesome.
I have a deep respect for paid, working mothers because I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to balance a career with being Mom and all that role implies. There are weeks when I am exhausted from all I have to juggle, and I have forty hours more per week to do it in than a paid mother does. And, a single mom? Well….she is more powerful than Superman. I am in awe. I only wish some of the paid moms I’ve encountered appreciated my situation as much as I appreciate theirs.
I wish there was some way that I could relay to others that just because my blonde hair is in a ponytail and I’m wearing yoga pants at drop off does not necessarily mean that I am an uneducated bubblehead with nothing better to do than figure out what snacks to serve at a 2nd grade Christmas party. I’m happy to help out at my boys’ school. In fact, as an unpaid, stay-at-home mom I honestly feel it’s a requirement because paid, working moms can’t get away to volunteer as often as I can. It’s my small contribution to society and the whole “it takes a village thing” that no one wants to admit is actually true.
Yes. I am an unpaid, stay-at-home mom, and I know that may not seem impressive. But, I am an integral part of American society. Maybe my master’s degree sits in my craft room instead of in a corner office. Maybe I don’t get paid for what I do. But, if I didn’t do what I do, it might be more difficult for paid moms to do what they do. It all works out. We moms, both paid and unpaid, should try harder to cut each other some slack. I’ll tell you what. If you promise to give me credit for being intelligent, useful, and greatly underpaid, I’ll stop making those annoying, handcrafted, overachiever Valentine’s Day favors for the classroom party. That way, neither one of us has any reason to feel inferior.