“He’s wearing his work clothes – just like daddy!” my daughter exclaims each time her little brother wears a button-up shirt.
She follows up by saying, “But you don’t wear work clothes because you don’t go to work, mommy.”
Each time these statements roll of her tongue, I cringe. Not because her perception of work bothers me, but because my perception so often matches hers. Even though I know that being a stay-at-home mom is work, HARD work, most of the time I forget that it actually matters. It’s easy to believe that it doesn’t count.
So, I tell her that I don’t go to work because my work is at home. And for that reason, my work clothes look different than her daddy’s. I tell her I generally wear work-OUT clothes because my job requires lots of moving, which causes lots of sweating, therefore necessitating stretchy and moisture-wicking fabric. And of course, elastic.
I tell her that God has given everyone a different job to do. And that right now, my job is to be a mother and the primary caretaker of my family. I tell her it’s a hard job and that even though I don’t get paid to do the hard work, it’s still important.
I tell her that my job does not come with money or status. That it doesn’t require a college degree. And that those things don’t define a person’s worth anyway.
I tell her that my work requires me to do a lot of dirty jobs. Changing diapers, cleaning up vomit, scrubbing toilets, picking up dirty underwear, stripping beds of urine-stained sheets.
I tell her that my work requires me to do jobs that she’s dubbed “boring.” Jobs that need to be done multiple times each day. Making meals and washing dishes. Sweeping floors and scrubbing countertops. Doing laundry and more laundry.
I tell her that my work takes place in the endless cycle of finding missing shoes, wiping noses, zipping coats, tying shoes and untying knotted laces. I answer the calls for help , of which there are many, within the walls of our home.