Professional Mother: The hardest job you’ll ever love

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It’s funny how a million great ideas for a column will come to me between Wednesday afternoon and Sunday night, only to slip away Monday morning and remain in hiding until just after deadline Tuesday.

I guess that’s why it’s been a while since (Mostly) Good Ones occupied its normal space. Column writing isn’t an easy task, especially when the bar has been set so highly in the past. Funny, local, poignant … my predecessors didn’t give me any easy outs for this space.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mothers lately. I guess it started just before Mother’s Day, when I’d planned a graceful homage to my better half, Jennifer, who gave me the two greatest gifts imaginable. Their names are Dakota and John David.

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Jennifer is a professional mother, a job that’s been neglected and derided by society since the rise of feminism and the gender revolution.

As I’ve introduced her around town, or told locals about her, the question always comes up:

“Where does she work?”

Too often, at first, I’d plant my foot firmly in my mouth and reply “she doesn’t; she stays home and takes care of the kids.”

Jenn would even respond similarly when someone asked the question of her.

But that answer contradicts itself, because there is no job more important than “staying home and watching the kids.”

There’s also, I imagine, few jobs that are harder.

By staying home with Kodi, who is almost three, and six-month-old John David, she sacrifices freedom, a social life, and, sadly, the respect of some other women. But in exchange, she personally makes certain that our brood is well cared-for, that they learn the things they need to know and avoid the many influences we can do without.

Though Kodi has definitely hit the “terrible twos,” she’s never bitten anyone, she’s never hit another child, and only occasionally experimented with bad language (there was a time when she blended the words “frog” and “duck” with embarrassing results, but it was an honest mistake).

As a professional mother, Jennifer could easily add a host of ordinary jobs to her resume: teacher, chef, accountant, animal trainer, hazardous waste technician, psychologist, nurse practitioner … and those are just a few that pop to mind.

Let me be clear – so as to minimize the angry e-mails – I wholeheartedly support women’s role in the workforce. For one thing, if you look at the other bylines up front, my job would be a lot harder without them.

But to automatically think less of a woman who chooses to stay home and see her kids through to kindergarten is not only wrong, it’s ridiculous.

Professional mothers are doing society’s heavy lifting. They’re making certain that their little pieces of the next generation start school with the skills necessary to succeed in life.

For Jennifer, it would probably be easier to take a job outside the house, and let Kodi and J.D. go to daycare. But child-rearing seems like too important a job to outsource. And who knows, if she ever decides it’s time to go back to work, I kind of like the idea of putting Professional Father on my resume.

– David Goodwin is managing editor of The Demopolis Times. To contact him, call (334) 289-4017 or e-mail