Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Doing the Toughest Job

My former guru, Oprah, always says that being a stay-at-home mom is the toughest job. (I say she is my former guru only because now that I have forsaken breastfeeding and no longer spend mind-numbing days alone with Shef, diapers, and housework, I don’t really have time to dial her in. I even quit Tivoing her when I realized I could capture back episodes of Gilmore Girls on ABC Family in that same timeslot, and, well, as you may remember, I was really into the Lorelais there for awhile.)

Anyway, I know "O" shouts-out to SAHMs because it is they who purchase her line of anti-frump lounge wear, and also because she knows being a SAHM is a job that she surely doesn’t want to do. It seems like every-other show features Oprah confessing that she never felt she could balance motherhood and her lofty career aspirations.

Now that I’m officially a working mom, I’ve been thinking about Oprah’s “toughest job” pronouncement, and I must say I’m not convinced. Having done the SAHM gig for awhile, certain other jobs seem harder to me – active-duty military, for instance, or working in pediatric oncology, where kids regularly die on your watch. Frankly, I'd much rather be a SAHM than empty porta-pots eight hours a day.

Even if I directly compare “working mom” to “stay-at-home mom,” there doesn’t seem to be any great difference in difficulty. I’m still exhausted. While my mind was numbed before, it’s now reeling. I’ve had to groom (God-forbid) and dress professionally, and then, just when I’ve hit my stride at work, I have to zip over to daycare and dive into hardcore, making-up-for-lost-time mothering for five hours straight, during which time I'm guaranteed to get snot and shit and masticated food on my work clothes instead of my frump gear.

While the mix of work and home I’ve chosen may not be easier, I will concede that for me, so far, it seems much, much happier. I feel decidedly more stimulated, less put-upon, and more empowered to manage my own time.

Perhaps I should call Oprah and let her know that I’ve come to this conclusion? Maybe I should include a copy of my new work badge photo, which I’m sure would qualify me for a full makeover.

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