A Sad State of Affairs
During teacher in service this year, we participated in an unusual activity designed to make us more aware of our students needs. During the course of the simulation, I had to role play the part of a stay-at-home mother.
Unfortunately the simulation did not describe me as a “stay-at-home” mother; it designated me as “unemployed.”
Unemployed. A mother who chooses to stay at home with her children is now considered “unemployed?” When did our culture become so materialistic that we must force mothers to abandon their roles as homemakers to become wage earners?
I grew up in a family where Mom had to work to make ends meet. My dad couldn’t work due to health reasons, so Mom had to put food on the table. Fortunately, she didn’t have to be at work until 8:30 and was home by 4:30ish every day since she worked at the courthouse. She was able to make sure we were up and ready for school and got home pretty much shortly after we did. Minimal “latchkey” kid syndrome. Still, many of the things associated with moms being at home were missing—no tray of fresh baked cookies every day waiting on us with a glass of milk after school, no being there for every program/activity we participated in during school hours, etc.
However, the biggest issue overlooked by feminists and women’s movement proponents were that moms who worked outside the home didn’t have any help with work in the home. You see the movers and the shakers who insisted that the only way to be empowered as a woman was to work outside the home didn’t take into consideration that all the work done inside the home would be done by the mother, as well. And she didn’t have time or energy because she was working outside the home.
We still deal with this issue. Mothers forced to work in the public to make ends meet, or achieve a sense of fulfillment, or to still the niggling voices of belittlement still find themselves trying to juggle both the workplace and home chores, so we find ourselves with fractured families and exhausted, stressed, guilt-ridden mothers.
I’m not saying women can’t find fulfillment in the workplace, but we should never denigrate those courageous women who choose to stay home and be a full time wife and mother. They are the hardest workers, who receive no monetary reimbursement for their work, no overtime, no sick leave, and no vacation. Any mother can tell you she works harder, longer hours, and multitasks at a variety of “vocations” that make her irreplaceable.
Don’t call her “unemployed.”