Over the weekend I was registering for something and the infamous question “Are you employed?” came up. It is a question that makes me cringe every time I hear it. Labeling myself as “unemployed” is something that never sits well with me.
I started working at age fourteen as an umpire for little league softball. I did the fast food scene for several years while I went to college and then worked as a nurse for over ten years before Turkey-Man was born. Employment was always important to me.
A lot of my identity has always been wrapped up in my job. I liked telling people that I was a nurse and talk about what I got to do. It was a challenging profession, but one that I generally enjoyed. The title of “nurse” usually conjures up a positive image in people’s mind. I was respected for what I did.
My current position of a stay at home mom (SAHM) does not always earn the same reputation. I think sometimes society views the job of a SAHM as cushy, that we sit around watching soap operas and eating bon-bons.
The funny thing is there are many days that my job as an ER nurse seemed less stressful than what I do today. There are days that I long to go back to the ER instead of the Groundhog Day sameness of taking care of two small children. Many, many days hubby gets home and I look around at our messy house wondering how it is that it looks like I did absolutely nothing all day, but yet it feels like I have been pulled in fifty different directions for ten hours straight.
So, when I am asked “Are you employed?” I feel like I need a qualifier of sorts. Yes, I am employed. The address of my job is my home and my bosses happen to be four and almost two. Being a subordinate to their wants and needs have made some of the most ruthless physicians I have encountered look tame! Prior my current job no one threw food because I handed them the juice they requested or screamed until the fell asleep because I gave them their water. Physicians can be difficult but they have nothing on rationalizing with a toddler!
I really wish I could get people to change the question. “Are you employed outside the home?” would be a much better way to phrase it. That way the amount of work that is involved in being a SAHM would be acknowledged.
I am employed. I work in one of the most demanding environments. It requires a constant need to put my own wants and needs behind those of my children. As a nurse there is a team approach. As a mom, I singlehandedly have tremendous influence over the health and psychosocial wellbeing of my children. It can be overwhelming at times if I sit back and realize how far reaching the implications of my parenting can be.
It is also often a lonely job. Aside from a husband who does his best to empathize with me on difficult days, there is no co-worker to vent to. No lunch date to take a deep breath and escape the demands of the day. There is no time clock to punch. Turkey-Man was up with croup last night. That meant my hours extended until 2 a.m. while I tried to sleep in a recliner with him so he could breathe better.
I am the bottom line in this job. Their health and safety are up to me. Hubby can and will stay home if I absolutely cannot function, but aside from those rare days there really is no back-up plan. Every need and whim is up to me to provide. Every boundary tested is up to me to reinforce. It is exhausting.
As difficult and overwhelming as it is, motherhood is also by far the most fulfilling job I have ever held. I have had a lot of days as a nurse where I walked away knowing that I had done a job well, but it pales in comparison to the joys I experience now. With each new thing they learn my heart leaps. Tears of joy are such a common experience that Turkey-Man already knows the term “Happy Tears”.
So, am I employed? Yes! I have the most amazing, demanding, beautiful job on Earth! I just wish society recognized it as such.