A woman named Emily renewing her driver’s license at the transportation office was asked by the clerk to state her occupation.
She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.
“What I mean is,” explained the clerk, “do you have a job, or are you just a ...?”
“Of course I have a job,” snapped Emily. “I’m a mom.”
“We don’t list ‘mom’ as an occupation. “‘Housewife’ covers it,” said the clerk emphatically.
I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our local police station.
The clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like, “Official Interrogator” or “Town Registrar.”
“What is your occupation?” she probed. What made me say it, I do not know.
The words simply popped out. “I’m a research associate in the field of child development and human relations.”
The clerk paused, pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though she had not heard right. I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words.
Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.
“Might I ask,” said the clerk with new interest, “just what you do in your field?”
Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, “I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn’t), in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I’m working for my masters, (the whole family), and already have four credits, (all daughters).
“Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money.”
There was an increasing note of respect in the girl’s voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.
When I got home, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants — ages 10, 7, and 3.
Upstairs, I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6-month-old baby), in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.
I felt I had triumphed over bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than “just another mom.”
Motherhood...What a glorious career! Especially when there’s a title on the door. – Author unknown.