I never liked the terms “homemaker” or “housewife” or even “stay-at-home” mom (as if any of us actually stay at home, in this age of driving everywhere!). Each term implied to me that the choice to spend 24/7 with my kids had more to do with the house than the people in it.
Today, I read an incidental comment in a blog from 2009 that referred to a woman as a “Professional Mom.” The words shimmered on the screen for a moment and then I heard a small boy band of angels harmonizing: “Ahhhhhh.” That’s it. That’s the term for what we do.
Not ‘Home Sweet Home’ for Me
The inclusion of the word “home” or “house” in defining women who choose to make careers out of educating their kids and/or managing the details of their family’s life together, shrinks the scope of what “mothering” and “educating” imply. Home is a great word—when referring to flopping on the couch, watching TV, getting away from “out there.” Home can be the place where memories are housed (groan). Home is either a respite from the world away or a mini-prison, depending on who you live with.
But when the words “home” or “house” are attached to the work I do every day, I feel diminished. My work is suddenly the ill-fitting homemade prom dress, not the sparkly, elegance of Vera Wang!
“Professional” on the other hand, implies trained, skilled, qualified—a certification that elevates you to the level of expert in your field. Silk stockings, a wide desk, business lunches over cocktails—”glam cool smart” life.
Now I know realistically, “mocktails” are more likely to appear in sippy cups at your lunches. Stockings? Do you mean soup stock? A wide desk buried in paperwork and Cheerios, strangely resembling the kitchen table, more like.
Our profession is a down-and-dirty one, but it IS a profession. The oldest one. Training comes through immersion—a blind leap into the ocean of parenthood, where we juggle the manual in one hand and the crying baby in the other, while hanging onto the life raft during a rip tide.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers, asserts that expertise in any field is created through practice. 10 hours a week for 20 years gives you 10,000 hours. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. As though you only spend 10 hours a week on this job! I figure if you calculated your time investment using 40 hours per week (which is still on the low end, if you’ve had babies and toddlers), you would have hit 10,000 hours in less than 5 years.
Let me repeat that: By the time your oldest child is 5, you are an expert—a professional mom. Your “certification” may still not know how to tie his shoes, but proof of your expertise hangs round your ankles and tugs on your shirt tail for more juice, all the live-long day.
Your multi-tasking lifestyle may not draw a paycheck in cash (though it certainly does in hugs), but it is no less significant to the well-being of society than Oreo cookies, for heaven’s sake (celebrating its 100th birthday as a tribute to the achievement of factory produced food items). I’d argue professional mothering is a lot more significant—yet at a dinner party, you probably would get more accolades for being the marketing director of Oreo than the cookie-baking mom of your neighborhood.
Schmart & Schmexy
I own a business. This one. And when I go to business networking events, it always stumps me when people ask what I do. I tell them I own a company. Then I explain that it teaches language arts and writing to homeschooling families. Nearly every person in these business contexts has said to me: “What an interesting idea for a a business. How did you think of that?” as though I sat down one day and decided to be an entrepreneur.
Not on your life!
- I’m an expert mother.
- I’m a specialized educator.
- I’m a freelance writer.
- I’m a dedicated family facilitator and home provider.
- I’m a professional mom
…who happens to own a business that provides training and support for our profession. I give the equivalent of in-services, courses, manuals, workshops, and consulting to expand the expertise of my highly trained and dedicated community of colleagues in the profession of motherhood (and education).
And I’m proud of it! At a lawyer’s open house last fall, I stopped saying I owned a business after the third lawyer asked if I was a lawyer. I simply replied: “I’m a mother to five kids. Best career decision ever.” I wish I had known about the “professional mom” moniker! Would have loved saying that.
Want to know how much you’re worth (what your paycheck should be)? Take this quiz and then print the paycheck at the end and frame it.
Ours is the oldest, and (dare I say it? Yes, I dare) most important profession of all. Well done, Professional Moms. Whether you live in a hut, a house, a condo, or a McMansion, you’re a pro.
Buy some silk stockings and take a lunch downtown this month. Put it on the business card. After all, it’s a business expense and you deserve it.