Going out to California last month was a bit of a wake-up call for me. All of the women that I met were so incredibly accomplished! One of them actually worked as a anesthesiologist, and then decided to become a lawyer. How awesome is that?!?! I was surrounded by consultants and lawyers and people working at promising start-ups and women who have young children now but who did those things before they had children and are taking a short break.
Me? I graduated from high school, went to college and shopped majors until I settled on one that’s part of the humanities, which virtually guarantees me a tiny salary if I decide to go to work (they really need to post that Georgetown Study in big letters in college advisement centers across the country). Oh yeah, and I technically haven’t even graduated yet! Marking “some college” on forms is always a thrill.
This summer I’m moving past the college graduation hurdle, but I don’t have immediate plans to pursue a career which means I’m slated to continue to show up at cocktail parties embarassed about what I do. We’ll be standing in a group and my husband will introduce himself and be asked what he does. He will reply, and it will be my turn.
What’s your name? “Jenna.”
What do you do? “Oh, I’m just a mom.”
I don’t want to be that way anymore. There is no need to get in some sort of flame war arguing about who has it harder, stay-at-home-moms or working-moms, because both groups are both spending time doing something valuable throughout the day. If I decided to get a job and we hired a nanny that person would never say “I’m just a nanny.” I’ve also never heard “I’m just a doctor,” “I’m just a consultant”, or “I’m just in sales.” I’ve certainly never seen a man cast his eyes down and answer apologetically about his job.
I am choosing to do this. It is my profession. It is what I do. Arguments that posit you can only count something as a profession if you’re paying taxes or being handed a paycheck are silly and not worth paying attention to.
Next time I’m asked what I do I have a variety of responses I can give. “I stay home with my son,” or maybe “I split my time between photography and motherhood.” But you won’t hear me say “Just a mom” anymore. We as women can all lend a little more respect to our chosen vocation by showing how proud we are to be doing what we do each day.