A few months ago, when I was picking up the children at
mother I knew well, rushed up to me. Emily was fuming with indignation.
"Do you know what you and I are?" she demanded. Before I could answer
- and I didn't really have one handy - she blurted out the reason for her
It seemed she had just returned from renewing her driver's
license at the
County Clerk's office. 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
the recorder emphatically.
I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in
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."
"And what is your occupation?" she probed.
What made me say it, I do not know. The words simply
"I'm....a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human
The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in mid-air, 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 pompous
pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official
"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what
you do in
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
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 in satisfaction rather than just money."
There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice
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---age 13, 7, and 3. And upstairs, I could
hear our new experimental model (six months) in the child-development
program, testing out a new vocal pattern.
I felt triumphant. I had scored a beat on bureaucracy.
And I had gone
down on the official records as someone more distinguished and
indispensable to mankind than "just another......"
Home...what a glorious career. Especially when there's
a title on the
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