woman renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office
was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation, Emily had
hesitated uncertain how to classify herself. "What I mean
is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job, or are
you just a .....?" "Of course I have a job,"
snapped Emily. "I'm a mother." "We don't list
'mother' as an occupation...'housewife' covers it," said the
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
"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
"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
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
I felt triumphant! 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 mother."
a glorious career.
Especially when there's a title on the door.
This To A Mom You Know!