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February 12, 2006

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Amy Dunkin

You know how your friends and family constantly clutter your Inbox with jokes and emails of unknown origin that make their way across the Internet? Most of them we spike without even reading. But if someone writes "Read This" in the subject field or "This is really cute" at the top, we look.

My sister sent me this one last week. Though written as if it were a true story, who knows if it is? I'd like to share it with you anyway. (With apologies to the author: I'd credit you, but I don't know who you are.)

Subject: MOMS

A woman, renewing her driver's license at the Motor Vehicle's 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 the woman. "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 own Town Hall.

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, ball-point 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 darned 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 clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new Career, I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13, 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 scored a beat on 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.

12:13 PM

Work/Life

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Here's one I got today...

Someone will always be smarter. Their house will be bigger. They will drive a better car. Their children will do better in school. And their partners will fix more things around the house. So let it go, and love you and your

circumstances. Think about it. The prettiest woman in the world can have

hell in her heart. And the most highly favored woman on your job may be

unable to have children. The richest woman you know - she's got the car, the

house, and the clothes - might be heartbreakingly lonely. So, love you. Love

who you are right now. Tell yourself, "I am too blessed to be stressed." Be

blessed ladies and pass this on to encourage another woman. "To the world

you might be one person, but to one person you just might be the world."

Share this with all of the wonderful strong women you know.... I did.

Posted by: Lauren at February 13, 2006 11:53 AM

Raising kids and working, I've done it all (or, at least, most of it) -- worked full-time, worked part-time, stayed home, telecommuted. Through it all, I've met a lot of great women (and men) doing their best to make their families work -- all with different (but certainly overlapping) arrangements, choices, pressures, motivations, and rewards. I think that we'd all do well to recognize that, no matter what our individual arrangements and choices, we are all people trying to do the best for our families -- that there is no need to create boundaries between us based on our different circumstances. I think as soon as we do a better job at reducing these barriers, we will all feel better about our own choices, do better jobs at work and/or at raising our children, and provide more effective support to our friends who have made different choices (or have had life make different choices for them). So, that means that there should be no embarrassment for "staying at home" nor should there be any guilt for "working outside the home" -- just pride in doing what you do the best that you can. And, of course, support for each other through it all. As I think of our sisters in places around the world where the government and/or the culture is repressive, I am reminded that choice is not automatic, and that it should be celebrated, rather than used as a way to separate us from each other.

Posted by: Laura at February 16, 2006 08:50 AM


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