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When I Grow Up…

When I Grow UpOn future career day my eleven-year-old daughter decided she was going to dress as an architect, artist, writer, and lawyer. I’m proud to be raising a multi-tasking free spirit. But when she told me that the other job she wanted was “mother,” I couldn’t help but blurt out, “That’s not a job.” Since when did becoming a mother become a career choice instead of a life choice? There is no job description, you don’t get hired, and there is no income potential. Isn’t it a role we play, like wife, sister, and daughter?

One girl only picked being a Mommy for career day. I asked my daughter, “What did she wear?” Really, what does a Mom wear to work (something stained in my experience). My daughter only noticed the accessories – American Girl Bitty Babies. I wanted to ask my daughter how many boys picked being a father for career day.

Another friend of mine pointed out that the word MOTHERHOOD implies something more than a career. We don’t call it lawyerhood or architecthood. To me motherhood — just seems bigger somehow.  I would never say my career is being a daughter, wife or a sister.

 I love people’s stories and often that includes what they do – not necessarily in their jobs but what they actually do. I always ask women, “Do you work outside the home?” Perhaps if you see a career as a calling motherhood is aptly called a career.  But do we negate the generations of mothers who came before us as “less than” because their motherhood wasn’t characterized as a career choice but as something they just did, “naturally.”

If motherhood was listed on as a job think of the possibilities. Would you have to interview to see if you were qualified (actually this may not be a bad idea)? And who would do the interviewing? The job descriptions? The salary negotiations? Think of the consultants (actually they already exist don’t they?).

When I was a kid, I never even thought I’d be a mother. I didn’t even like other people’s children. I wasn’t even sure after I got married if I wanted children. But now that I have children in my view they are not something I DO, but a precious relationship and responsibility that I strive to handle with care and with grace (not always realized but always aspired for).  I want my daughter to be anything she wants to be when she grows up. But in my view also want her to recognize that a career is different from a fundamental human relationship. A career may be fundamental to who you are. It may even define you. But it has a different aspect to it than something as primal as being a mother.  I’ve done a lot of things, writer, actor, lawyer, professor, consultant. Yet in the end, while I may have touched many individuals in all those aspects of my career, I think the children I am raising will be the most important thing I do.  And that may not be my career but in the end it is who I am.

Author: Pam Sherman

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