Picture it. A neighborhood cocktail party and you bring your A game to embark on a night of the requisite small talk. Have you ever stopped to take notice of how many times you are asked, “So, what do you do”?
Our society is obsessed with what people do and it has become the ultimate conversation starter.
For a woman who has opted out of the workforce, this can be a complicated question to answer because there is what she does NOW, what she USED to do, and many times, what she WANTS to do.
But not right now, because life is complicated. Why is it complicated you ask? Because I’m a woman and I already had a steeper ladder to climb which means a faster fall to the bottom when I stepped out of the workforce. And I grow humans. Humans are expensive and hard. And daycare is expensive too. And though not on my resume, this mothering skill is really important and my children think I’m great at it. It’s not that I do nothing – I actually do a lot. But I want to remind you that I had a real job before I had kids, I was good at that too. Wait, raising kids IS a real job. I digress…
What we “do”can be an impossible question to answer succinctly.
So often, women are forced to choose an identity that is dictated by their choices regarding parenting and careers. It starts at pregnancy. Just think of how many times women are asked over the course of nine months, “So what are you going to do”? As if becoming a parent isn’t enough, we have all eyes on us wondering what we will do with our careers.
What are we going to do, and who are we going to be? A stay at home mom or a working mom? A woman? A mother? A career woman?
It can be maddening to maintain a sense of oneself when there are endless identities to reconcile.
MotherBoard’s objective is to untangle the expectations put on mothers who work. To make their choices seem less complicated and more streamlined and purposeful. To do that, we want to rethink the concept of “work”.
Humans naturally create work that is meaningful to their lives. The Montessori teaching method uses the term work as an integral part of their learning environment. In the classroom, work is what a child does with purpose and of his or her own choosing. This philosophy can teach us a lot about reframing the concept of work for mothers.
Here at MotherBoard, we do not see work in the literal sense of having a job. We want to flip the definition and approach work as what you choose to do in the world to make unique contributions and find fulfillment. For many women, that work is both parenting and maintaining a career. Some do it at the same time, others opt in and out of the workforce as their parenting situations allow. Regardless of the choice, it doesn’t diminish anyone’s contribution – it’s all work.
It’s time to bless and release the notion that you have to conform to any one archetype of a woman or mother. How you shape your work for your life is completely up to you, and with that we want you to feel a sense of relief and freedom to be whoever you need to be right now.
MotherBoard is a community for those of us who have chosen to develop our work in both parenting and professional careers. Together, we will show the world a new working mother. A woman who has integrated her career and parenting. Who no longer feels torn between competing identities and approaches her life as a whole entity, adjusting herself and the world around her with no apologies.
You do what you do. I’ll do what I do. It’s all work, and it’s alright.