The Mommy Chronicles: Honorable Mentions
click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​




The Mommy Chronicles: Honorable Mentions

The Mommy Chronicles: Honorable Mentions

Honor is found in the boardroom, the locker-room, the courtroom, and even the star's dressing room, but not in my kids' playroom.

by

"And what do you do?"

The question threw me, and not just because I thought my two little answers were making enough of a scene to be obvious. I was holding my fidgety baby on my right arm while attempting to restrain my three-year-old from escaping the grasp of my left. Using my apparent distraction to her advantage, my daughter was trying to remove each and every beach ball from its wire cage and place it in our shopping cart. (Evidently, the cage like display case is designed just to hold the balls in place and not to slow eager toddlers down.)

The place? A local supermarket. The inquirer? A successful business woman I knew from high school. The time? Four years too late for me to have a good answer to that question.

"What do you do?" Why do those four little words still manage to make some of us tense, defensive, and somewhat uncomfortable every time we hear them? The world sees little glory in the raising of small people. Honor is found in the boardroom, the locker-room, the courtroom, and even the star's dressing room, but not in my kids' playroom. Is there no honor in motherhood? I'm really happy with my choice to be home with my kids, but answering "I'm a stay at home mom" seems to always be met with a dismissive "Oh…that's nice."

What a person does professionally is one of the first things people want to know; yet, ironically one of the least important when it comes to a person's value.

The problem isn't with the answer; it's with the question. Very often when we are asked "What do you do?" what's meant is: "Who are you and how much value should I assign you?" What a person does professionally is one of the first things people want to know; yet, ironically one of the least important when it comes to a person's value.

If I answer "I'm a mom," it's as if I've said, "I don't really do anything," when in reality I do everything. Not in the sense that I do the laundry or the taxes or that I'm raising two beautiful children, but in the sense that I'm busy with the job of becoming me. That's what I do. I'm becoming me.

Isn't that what we are all essentially doing? Becoming who we are supposed to be. Actualizing our potential in this world is our job. Some of us do it while we earn a living as a doctor, web developer, systems engineer, or financial analyst. Some of us do it while we stay at home and raise our kids. There's no difference.

Okay, so here's the difference. Society doles out honorable accolades and applause based on what you do, not on who you are. Hence, there's no one banging down my door to write newspaper articles about me, or name their kids after me, just because I've learned to get over it when my husband offers to help with the laundry and then forgets to move a load from the washer to the dryer.

But those are the moments. When we're kinder and more forgiving than we thought we could be. When we are frustrated by the little things, but we behave with generosity. When we rewash the clothes without mentioning it to our spouse and feel grateful that they were trying to help. Those are the moments when we should feel our greatest satisfaction; when we should feel our intrinsic value; when we should feel that we are truly in the process of becoming.

And who am I? one might ask -- which is a far better question. I, along with all mankind, am a being created in the image of God. This is where our value comes from. Overcoming our own desires in this world to fulfill God's will and to be more like God is how we manifest our value -- but only to God. It is impossible for anyone to tell the value of another person. We can not measure the level of difficulty each of us must overcome in order to be our true selves. For some, an extra wash cycle might be just too much to bear; for others, they might not even notice.

So the next time I'm asked what I do, I'll answer that I'm at home with the kids, keeping in mind that the inquirer might just be making small talk. Then I'll remind myself about the potential for personal growth that comes with my job, as with any job. It's not what you do, but how you do it. And then I'll go on with the business of becoming me.

Published: July 31, 2004


Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.

Visitor Comments: 8

(8) rachel, August 5, 2004 12:00 AM

mother of five

When I am asked what I do, I generally start laughing. As a mother at home (in Israel) I wonder what I don't do! To describe all the activities I do and occasional extras would overwhelm the questioner. Once I start laughing they usually ask if I work. In which case I either tell them I work 24 hours a day (full time mom,wife etc)or I tell them I am to busy to work.
All in all I feel privelidged to be in my situation. The working women I know are often under much more stress than the home moms and this often has a detrimental affect on the home which is the family haven.

(7) ORAH, August 5, 2004 12:00 AM

B,SD

NICE ARTICLE!

IT IS TRUE THAT MOM'S AT HOME ARE NOT VALUED LIKE WORKING MOTHERS,BUT AS LONG AS THEY UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THEIR ROLE,THAT'S FINE.
AFTER ALL SHE IS RESPONSABLE FOR HER HOUSE & CHILDRENS..(NOT SMALL TASK AT ALL)
I WORKED OUTSIDE TILL THE END OF MY FIRST BABY PREGNACY ,AFTER THAT I MADE SURE I HAD TIME FOR MYSELF AS WELL...
I EXERCISE OFTEN,I READ,I DO THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY & MY FAMILY AS WELL.
WOMAN HAVE TO HAVE A BALANCE,WHAT'S THE BEST THING FOR THEM,& APPLY IT TO DAILY LIFE.
SALUTE MOTHERS!

(6) anonymous responder, August 3, 2004 12:00 AM

Thanks Leah!!

I feel the same way. I'm a mom. I'm also an executive at a company. I also feel that it's the executive role that gets more respect "out there" - but only amongst the non-moms (or not-yet moms). The moms I know in the corporate world have this special bond - we all know the secret that being a mom takes more creativity, intelligence, wisdom, patience, endurance, and energy than any job we've had in the corporate world or any courses we took in graduate school.

(5) Anonymous, August 3, 2004 12:00 AM

I'm the receptionist

I remember feeling the same way when my children were young.
After going back to work, after reaching the executive level and then after re-structuring, unwilling to really play the game and too tied down with responsibility to wait for the next opportunity, your article reminds me that altough we never know what life will give us, it certainly is important not to judge others based on what they do. It sounds obvious to try to see things from another person's perspective, but I think it is worth pointing out that most people still make generalizations based on their own self-image. Sometimes life is tough, but then as you said, I feel proud of who I am, not just because of what I do.

(4) Anonymous, August 2, 2004 12:00 AM

Individual Needs

While I feel very strongly, that being an "at home mother" is very worthy of honor and the most challenging job in the world, why does it have to be that going out to work is bad? (Or when discussing the importance of going out to work that staying at home is undignified?) Some people feel forced to go to work for monetary issues, some to get some adult company for a bit and enable them to come back and be more enthusiastic mothers. Everyone has to find their own balance. True NO babysitter, no matter how highly recommended or expensive, will love and care for your child as you do - even if you get impatient at times, but as long as the goal is being the best person and mother - why must we bash the other option? Wouldn't it be great if we could just work through our personal pros and cons, decide and be happy we are doing our best without comparing to others. Shame we are all human!!

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.


  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment
stub