I went to the doctor recently and had to verify some information for their records. Every time I get this line of questioning, there’s the verifying of the address, the insurance, the husband and his employer, and then the ever-degrading, “And you’re unemployed?”
“Uh. Well, employed by my children!” I say cheerfully, hoping a nice smile will mask the insult I’ve just swallowed. Sometimes I say, “Yes,” grudgingly, and then add, “Well, I’m a stay-at-home mom.”
Perhaps the nurses hear this sort of thing a lot. Perhaps they agree that the label isn’t exactly fair. Perhaps not; who knows? But one thing is for certain: their little computer system is in need of some upgrades. Forty years or so past the women’s movement and when I choose to stay home to raise my children, I get a demeaning label. “Unemployed.” Like I’m George Costanza. Like I’m watching soaps all day and not “really” working. Am I to understand that, according to the medical profession or the IRS or whoever decides on categories for computer system medical records, that being a “stay-at-home mother” is not a real job? What about if I were running a daycare? Would it count if I were caring for someone else’s kids? OK, yea, I’m a little insulted.
Well, it’s not like I need to explain to other mamas that what we do is the hardest work we’ve ever done. That we fill the role of teacher, nurse, family economist, record-keeper, secretary, scheduler, photographer, governess, disciplinarian, maid, cook, creative activities coordinator, diaper-changer, professional potty-trainer, coach, etc., etc., etc., every day of the year with no days off, not even for illness, and no end to our shift, not even at 3:00 a.m. And just because no one pays me in money for this, I refuse to accept the mentality that I am “just” a stay-at-home mom. Or “unemployed.”
There are days when I do wish I worked outside the home. I know this has more to do with a contentment problem than a real desire to do so, at least in my case. The reason I know this is because whenever that dream does rear its head, I am usually having a terrible time controlling my emotions and thought life and just wishing for a way of escape. Then I try to think of people who might have harder jobs than me… Air traffic controller? Britney Spears’ agent? Alligator wrestler? Alright, I feel better.
I realize that many a mama works outside the home and does it well. Many of my friends choose to work, and some work because they have to do it. I certainly don’t mean to incite any arguments about which kind of mom has it harder or whose choices are better. I just want the stinking computer to give me some credit.
It’s cool, though… I probably shouldn’t think about this so much. I know that the One I serve is the only One whose label for me is accurate: sinner, saved by grace, created for good works, to the honor and praise and glory of Christ. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10) I know it’s silly to get my feathers all in a ruffle about this. I am serving the living God with my life, and that’s all that matters. This is the best place we can be – seeking the Lord, seeking to honor Him, seeking to bring Him glory in all we do, in our own feeble way!
Sometimes when I am wiping poopy bottoms, I think of that verse: “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10) Sometimes I think I’d also rather be a doorkeeper than a butt-wiper … but picturing myself wearing white gloves and standing outside the Ritz Carlton instead of being here taking care of the kids … Okay, yea, that’d be dumb. Well, until the medical records people see fit to add one more label for employment categories, I’ll let you know how it goes being that annoying gnat of a lady who keeps asking for a more accurate job description every time I’m questioned at the doctor. You can thank me later.