A woman renewing her driver’s licence, was asked by the customer service assistant to state her occupation
She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself
“What I mean is”, explained the assistant “do you have a job or are you just a ……”?
“Of course I have a job”, snapped the customer.
“I’m a Mum”
“We don’t list ‘Mum’ as an occupation, housewife covers it” said the assistant emphatically
I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation
The assistant was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient and possessed of a high sounding title like ‘Official Interrogator’
“What is your occupation”? she probed
What made me say it? I don’t know
The words simply popped out
“I’m a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations”
The assistant paused, ball point pen frozen in midair 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 pronouncement was written, in bold black ink on the official questionnaire
“Might I ask” said the assistant with new interest, “just what you do in your field”?
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 outdoors)
I’m working towards my Masters (the whole family)
and already have four credits (two boys, and two girls)
Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities (any mother care to disagree?)
and I often work 14 hours a day (24 hours a day is more like it)
But the job is more challenging than most run of the mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfation rather than just money”
There was an increasing note of respect in the assistant’s voice as she 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 – aged 13, 7, & 5
Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model (6 month old baby) in the child development program testing out a new vocal pattern
I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy!
And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than “just another Mum”
Motherhood, what a glorious career!
Especially when there’s a title on the door
Does this make grandmothers ‘Senior Research Associates’ in the fild of Child Development and Human Relations
and Great Grandmothers
‘Executive Senior Research Associates’
I think so!
Perhaps it also makes Aunts ‘Associate Research Assistants’