It’s early on a Monday morning, Gentle Reader. (That line immediately makes me start singing Easy like Sunday Morning silently to myself. I wonder what it would be like if my head wasn’t jam packed with a million-gajillion songs?)
As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, it’s early on a Monday morning (shut UP Lionel Richie!) and the sun is coming up through the tall trees outside my kitchen windows.
The chickens, seeing the lights turn on inside the house, are doing their level best to scream at me with their little chicken beaks. Bring us snacks! they screech. We hate this pellet stuff! We want green stuff and oatmeal and Dorritos! (Yes. My ladies have had Dorritos. Just once. It’s a long story and frankly I’m not sure I like your tone.)
With iron-like determination I ignore those pesky (yet oddly alluring) chickens to enjoy the few minutes of peace I have before the children wake up and my day officially begins.
Being a stay-at-home mom (especially one that homeschools) my work day does in fact officially begin when the first child becomes conscious. I hear that slow tread of a barely coherent kid stumbling down the stairs and internally I punch my work card and start the day.
When I hide out in the bathroom with the Ipad to get away from all the Harry Potter questions my youngest throws at me? I consider that my ‘mandatory union break.’
When I’m cleaning up a child who has vomited at 2 a.m. (because my children rarely throw up when the sun is out) I think of it as ‘overtime.’
And when I somehow manage to go to the grocery store by myself, I call it a ‘vacation.’ Because heaven knows that those family trips with all the packing and planning and non-stop togetherness are in no way, shape, or form a vacation of any kind. For me, it is simply ‘working while on location.’ Which does make me feel a little bit fancy.
Yet, despite the bad pay (non-existent really) and the incredibly long hours and somewhat unsanitary conditions, I love my work. I really do. When I was younger, I used to refer to my mothering work as a job, but no longer. Now, I call it my career.
It is that small change in vocabulary has made all the difference. When I stopped thinking of what I do as a job and began thinking about it as a career, some amazing things began to happen.
First, right away I began to think of who I am with pride. When someone asks me what I do, I never apologetically reply, “Oh I’m just a stay-at-home mom.” Instead, I look them straight in the eye and state, “Oh, I’m a Professional Mom. Right now my main office is located at my residence, but occasionally I’ll work from the mini-van.”
By calling what I do a career, I have become more confident of myself, as have my children. When my oldest child questions my decision or ability to make something happen, I now turn to him and state assertively, “Son, I’m a professional. Trust me.” And he usually does.
The next thing that began happening when I started using the phrase ‘career’ is that I began noticing all the skills I had developed. When someone has a job they labor and work, but when someone has a career, they have skill sets and specialized training.
Knowing how to convince an eleven year old girl and a twelve year old boy to agree to something on the television? That’s some fine negotiating ability right there. Knowing how to get four separate food items on the dinner table simultaneously? That is some incredible time management skills. Being able to make the hard decisions about what activities to put the kids in and which ones to avoid, all without going over-budget? That’s expertise with ‘upper management’ written all over it.
Being able to recognize my abilities and skills, my expertise, is the difference between being a drudge and being a professional. And believe me, I am a professional.
I am a highly skilled, immensely capable career woman who just happens to be in a non-flow monetary arrangement with a very lax dress code.
But you can call me a stay-at-home mom.