I lean up against the counter at the doctor's office. My two year old fidgets on my hip as I fill out the paperwork to see our town's new pediatrician. The woman behind the desk works her way through a checklist of questions.
“Your employer, ma'am?"
I sign a paper with one hand, hold my toddler with the other arm, and simultaneously rock my infant's car seat with my foot.
"Oh, I'm just a stay-at-home mom."
JUST a stay-at-home mom? I catch myself as soon as the words slip out of my mouth. You would never hear a doctor say "Oh, I'm JUST a doctor." Why do I feel like this is something to apologize for rather than something to be proud of?
The last century brought about some fantastic, positive changes for women – we can get a good education, exercise our political freedoms, and influence society in the workforce. Unfortunately, it has also shouldered many moms with guilt. To be honest, I've struggled with fears that I'm wasting my abilities reading "Hop on Pop" seven times a day. I'm smart. I'm educated. I could be successful. I could make a name for myself.
But what if the name I want most is “Mom”?
As a girl, I was told that I could be anything, but very few ever encouraged me to pursue full-time motherhood. That was taboo – a holdover from a previous era when women spent their days in heels and pearls, polishing the silver for their dinner guests. Unfortunately, in their zeal to open up the doors of possibility for a future generation, they’ve given the impression that caring for a home and family is beneath the enlightened woman.
If you choose to work outside the home whether due to financial necessity or simply because you have found a career that you love, there's no shame in that at all. But I think it's important for millions of moms to know that what they do is important and valuable, even if there are no annual bonus checks or performance reviews to confirm it.
Your education and life experiences enrich the lives of your children. They have shaped you into the person you are today. They are not wasted.
Next time someone asks you what you do for a living? Stand up straight and proudly proclaim: I've got the best job in the world - I'm a mom.