Every Parent is a Working Parent
“What do you do?” This seems a fairly innocuous question. But it’s implications run deeper than one might think. When I’m asked “So, what do you do?” I respond with pride that I am a mother.
I have worked in the non-profit arena for the better part of two decades. I have a responsible, professional position on the management team of a community organization. But the most productive labor with which I identify is in my role as a mother.
In an age of power lunches and networking, when even students sport business cards, my response often raises eyebrows, and my unique way of looking at the world is perceived by some as lack of ambition, or at least seriously misplaced priorities.
Why? How has parenting—a fundamental responsibility shared by millions of adults—become such an undervalued and underappreciated form of labor? Is it because people think that if you are college educated and choose to devote your talents to raising children, you are not challenging yourself? And, horror of horrors, if you have a postgraduate degree and are not pulling in a five figure salary, you lack in confidence?
Sure, I have a job that brings in a paycheck and utilizes my schooling. And then I have a job that defines me, that challenges me every day, and that utilizes my education, my ethics, and my soul. That job is called being a parent.
As a mother, my primary work is taking care of the family; being friend, confidante, counselor, chauffeur, and cook. I encourage, teach, and set goals. And the returns on my investment are wholesome individuals who will one day become productive and participatory members of the community. Parenting has been for me more creative and satisfying than the grant award I successfully secured or the presentation before the City Council that won my organization another year’s contract.
Women and men who stay home to nurture, who make parenting their primary work, have made an important and thoughtful life decision. We’ve made a commitment to our children, to the future, and to our shared world. Yes, and that’s what we do.
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