About Me

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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Professional Mothers

I find it ironic that mothers who work outside the home (like me!) are sometimes referred to as "professional mothers" while mothers who work exclusively at home (not earning income  -- "just" being at home with their kids) earn the title, "stay-at-home-Mom".

Seems, actually that the latter category often presents themselves in such a way that THEY should be labeled "professional mothers".  Some of them not only do a *wonderful* job with their kids -- they do --  but they also have spotless yards, perfectly decorated homes, 2.5 pets, AND find time to volunteer, teach Sunday school, exercise AND get regular mani-pedis.  Some of them, in fact, have made staying home into such an elaborate job that they truly present themselves as professionals, with standards so high and schedules so tight that in fact they make the rest of us look a little.  bit.  bad. 

Or at least lazy.

Not that I resent them.  Oh, gosh, I wouldn't actually say that.

Who am I kidding?  Yes, sometimes I would.

Yesterday, at my son's kindergarten soccer practice, a few Moms -- who clearly are close friends -- show up, put up a tent, a portable table, chairs for the kids (aren't they playing a game?) and chairs for themselves and then proceed to lay out a spread of fresh fruit, water or juice, and home-baked cupcakes, complete with a fancy tiered cupcake tray.

Professional mothers, I tell you.  Very smart presentation.  Highly organized.  High client appeal.

Good lord.  OVER. THE. TOP.  If this is what they do for the second practice, what are they going to do at the end of the season?!

But then, sometimes I just "phone it in", or at least that's what I'm sure they would think of my just bringing a bottle of water for my kid and expecting him to wait until we get home to actually eat. 

The practice is 45 minutes, folks, and we all live within fifteen minutes of the field.

I do think, however, that THEY, not women like me, deserve the title, "professional mothers".

Perhaps I should take notes from their blackberries...


  1. Yeah, the term "professional mothers" definitely applies to the women you descibe! But, remember, they do not have lectures to write or papers to grade or shifts to work outside the home and so they have the time to devote to being outstanding in the professional mom department! I know that the rest of us look a little lame in comparison -- but I think if I did not have to worry about recertifying (I'm a doctor), keeping up with medical education, as well as actually working at the hospital, I would do pretty much the same. Or at least approximate it. In the meantime, I think the title that belongs to persons like me is "professional struggle-try-to-do-it-all-er!" My gig is not for everyone, and neither is theirs. Its all good.

  2. I definitely agree that "my gig is not for everyone and neither is theirs". A part of me *really* admires them; another part of me thinks that they've manufactured tasks for themselves in order to justify their staying home.

  3. I should add -- maybe not so much "justifying" staying home as making it interesting enough. At least, when I was home full-time, I had to find stuff to do to keep me from going insane. :) Perhaps making cupcakes and volunteering at schools every day does that for some people.

  4. I remember what Betty Friedan said in "the Feminine mystique,"
    "Work expands to fill the available time,"

    Also, so many of us go back and forth during our child-rearing years between "working professional" and "stay at home mom," that these labels seem a bit retro.

  5. I do think that women (or men) who stay home to raise kids find ways to make it interesting for themselves. Some home-school. Some make sure the house is catalogue-photographer-worthy. Some volunteer. The latter, to me, is clearly the easiest and best way to stay sane. Volunteering allows the stay-at-home-parent to meet others who are living similarly and to do things that are productive for the school/community. Its rewarding. And, its needed. One thing that is terrific about the area I am in now is that so many of the moms who have *any* free time find some way to give to the community; it is part of the culture. And there is no denying that all of our children benefit from their time. So, yes, their cupcakes look better than mine and their gameside set-up better-thought-out, but it what those same women are doing with the REST of their time (assisting with reading groups, teaching art literacy, coaching track and field, organizing fund-raising activities for the school, collecting books and clothes to donate to needy families) that is really valued.

    Now, if all they do is decorate their houses and bake cupcakes, well, that really is lame.

  6. I do agree that volunteers are golden. I also worry, however (this is worthy of a separate post) that if schools *need* so many volunteers, there is something wrong with the system. I've been amazed at the number of volunteers in my kids' schools -- it's a sign of the economy (lost jobs), a sign of privilege for others (can stay home even if jobs available), AND a sign that the school is under-staffed and the classes overcrowded. The school *relies* on volunteers a lot and while one can argue that the kids benefit, one could also argue that an education system that relies so heavily on unemployed parents might just have a problem.
    ...A topic for another post, because this was really a tongue-in-cheek analysis of how some women make their mothering look VERY "professional". That's all.


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