Am I a Working Mom?

Today I decided to “like” a page on Facebook that has been set up for working moms.  I could see that it was designed for women who work outside of the home; however, I could also see that most of the content was relevant to just about anyone who has an interest in, or spends time with, children.  Even though I knew my Facebook friends might wonder why I “liked” a “working mom” page, I clicked on “like” with conviction.

I should explain that I’m fussy about the term “working moms”. I prefer “moms who work full-time/part-time outside of the home” or “work-at-home moms” who have businesses based outside of their home.  These are cumbersome terms, they are a mouthful to say and don’t translate easily into acronyms. Hence very few people use them.

I have been at home on bed rest, maternity leave and with my twins full-time since April 2009.  I am not currently working outside of the home. While I was on maternity leave my position was cut as part of a new business plan/management reshuffle.  Before my departure I had a good track record working for a large educational institution and hadn’t been called in for “pull up your socks” meetings. While I was away, I kept minimal contact with the office as I didn’t want to impose. Career development experts will tell you that this was my mistake. I was well regarded before I went on maternity leave and before there were staff changes in my department. I do not feel self-doubt or inadequate about this turn of events.

In the early days after my twins were born and my maternity leave ended, daycare was an expensive proposition.  If I did plan to work, I would need to bring in a strong wage to offset the cost of daycare.  Since Vancouver is a city that has never had the most robust job market for well paying jobs, it’s not surprising  that a suitable replacement for the position I held previously has not emerged.  Even if I could find a job posting that looks promising, I would need to be the successful candidate and find daycare for two young children.  Recently I was informed that my name is still on the daycare wait list at my former office along with 600 other families!  Most families in British Columbia are faced with the same challenge.

I am a mom who is – “stays” if you will-  at home with my children full-time.  My time spent with them is meaningful to me and rewarding. I like to think that they benefit from my efforts and presence as well.  I am not a full-time mum, however, as no mother is a mum for part of the time. When you are ankle deep in paperwork at the office you are still available for your child. I am a mum who is with her children full-time. Typically I’m up by 7 and go to bed after 11 PM. As I am using the Strong Start programme for my children and present Montessori material and exercises at home, I could officially say that I’m a homeschooling mum as well. We don’t have part-time childcare and I rarely go out to child-free social functions. We have more options to go out as our children are now three.  If we are invited to social functions and we can bring our children, most of the time we will go.

I am happy with my life and grateful for my opportunities.

From time to time I encounter a person who doesn’t know what to say to me because,  I suspect, I’m not a “working mom” who can talk about her 9-5 job and career. I should start referring these type of people to my LinkedIn profile. I could also suggest a conversation with my friends who have known me as I lived, studied and worked in seven countries and three provinces.  I have learned a thing or two in the last few decades and I can hold my end in a sophisticated conversation.  If you haven’t bothered to talk to me, give me a try. Potential topics of conversation do not have to be limited to my children or (Although I’m happy to talk about either topic.) When I bring up topics related to my professional training and work experience, I appreciate not having to haul out my diplomas to prove my credentials and support my right to have informed opinions. I am not simply a curator of other people’s thoughts. When I say or write something, please don’t ask me to provide a link to the lone article that I, presumably, plagiarized in order to develop an opinion.  Please also do not think you know me because you scan my Facebook or Twitter page once or twice a year.

I challenge the notion that my relevance is directly related to recently completed professional activities or whether or not I have the word “working” or PhD. on the hat on my  head.  I thankful that I was able to become a mum after the age of 35.  I expend energy interacting with my children and society.  My efforts have meaning, an impact on others and make a difference.  I build community in person and online.  That is all that matters.

Do I work?  Do I receive a pay cheque?  Are these questions relevant if you want to know me on more than a superficial level? Not really.

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