Employer: My Family
I am a mom. I'm a whole bunch of other things, too. But, over the last decade, the bulk of my time has been mothering my four children. Some days have seen me as the best mom ever. Other days didn't end soon enough and I was the worst mom ever.
Here I sit, having just filled out a Little League volunteer application. I have to fill this sheet out if I want to step any part of my body in the dugout or field, which I understand. They want to make sure I'm not a creeper. I support this background check 110%.
I started filling out the form. Name and address? Check. Birthday? Hey, I know that! And then shortly below my email address is the line of confusion.
It simply says “Occupation.” With a little blank line after it.
What do I write? Unemployed is the first answer that pops into my head, because I earn zero dollars and have no “boss” and I don't have to keep track of my time. Then I snort in contempt at that last thought, because like a bad 1983 music video, the faces of my family fade in and out of focus over my head. It's not because Ryan and kids are bossy. Not at all. In fact, when the rubber meets the road, I am very much the boss. And, I'm scarily good at it. If I were to suddenly die, from an overdose of cookies maybe, my entire family would fall apart. Who would find their socks? Who would make them cookies? Make sure the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed?
And while finding clean socks for everyone sounds trite, everyone is always so grateful for those socks when I do find them.
Occupation: Master Sock Finder
No. Because I do so much more than that. I don't get paid. I have plans to enter the paying work force within the next two years. But even when I have a title again, which will come first?
I first ran into this conundrum four year ago while filling out an election packet when I ran for a seat on the school board. I could use three words under my name on the ballot to describe what I do. Mom? The election board suggested “homemaker.” The word homemaker and I have never gotten along so well, because I'm not very good at fulfilling the picture of a homemaker in my head. I tried “retired teacher.” The elections office looked at my age and said I was too young to be retired. They said “educator” would work. I choose two describing words for the ballot: educator and parent.
Except I had them put parent first.
But sometimes I wonder: What will the people who read my little application see the word “mom” as my occupation think?
Will they know that I can perform both mundane and routine tasks for years on end while simultaneously find creative ways to motivate my crew? Will they recognize that I can both focus solely on one person's problem, or I can multitask the issues of many, oftentimes mitigating conflicts between my kids? There are so many other great “work related” skills I have developed holding the title of “mom.”
My Facebook job description says “CEO of Home.” Because I am. I am very much the CEO of this little corporation that is our family. I manage the income and the outcome. I invest our money. I consult with my co-director and the shareholders on a regular basis concerning the path we are taking and to check to see if we are meeting our family goals. I make sure the underlings are being trained to someday manage their own corporations. If I fail, the corporation would likely implode, and that I cannot bear to think of.
I am happy to be a mom. Sometimes it gets old and sometimes it is head banging against the steering wheel disastrous. Other times it is hysterically funny and heartwarming. I have truly, truly enjoyed and have been grateful for my full time mothering years, and I can see a transition happening. All the kids are in school now. I will never not be a mother, but the job is changing as the kids get older. This is neither extremely exciting nor depressing in the least. It is the natural progression of things, and I do love progress.
But still it nags me. The “occupation question.” Maybe instead of asking what we do, there should be a question asking who we are. Because I'm pretty sure we are all more than a title.