don’t call me “unemployed”

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.


About Sara

I am a 30-something momma of two with a history of recurrent pregnancy loss. After receiving no answers from "regular" fertility specialists, I discovered that there is a pioneering field of fertility testing and treatment called Reproductive Immunology. The American College of OB-GYN's still does not recognize this field, but I felt strongly that women needed to know there might still be answers for them. I started a website to inform and encourage others to be their own advocates.
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