for release November 15, 2002
by Melodie Davis
The Best Job You'll Ever Have
Emily said she was asked to state her occupation when renewing her driver's license. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.
The clerk said, "What I mean is, do you have a job, or are you just a ..."
Emily snapped, "Of course I have a job. I'm a mother."
The clerk responded, "We don't list 'mother' as an occupation."
Emily shared this incident with a friend, Ann, who later was at the town hall one day to conduct some business. She had to be interviewed by a woman with an impressive title, something like City Registrar.
"What is your occupation," the registrar asked.
Ann said she's not sure what made her say it, but she responded, "I am a Research Associate in Child Development and Human Relations." The registrar paused, ballpoint pen frozen in midair, looking up as if she had not heard right. Ann repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then she watched amazed as her new title was officially recorded in bold black ink.
"May I ask just what you do in your field?" the registrar asked.
"I have a continuing program of research in the laboratory and in the field," Ann replied, thinking of following her kids indoors and out. She told her she was working for her Masters (the whole family) and she had four credits (all daughters).
As she drove home buoyed by the thought of her glamorous sounding career, Ann said she was greeted "by my lab assistants, ages 13, 7 and 3. Upstairs, I could hear our new experimental model (6 months) in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern."
I don't know why I got this e-mail and I didn't know the person who sent it to me, so I can't vouch for whether its fact or fiction, but the point is still the same. No matter what name you give the job of raising children, and no matter whether you are a mother or a father, there is no doubt that raising them is the most important job you will ever have.
Do we really believe that? Do we put in practice what we believe?
The words of Harry Chapin's famous "Cat's in the Cradle" song come to mind:
"A child arrived just the other day,
The song goes on through the son's childhood, where the son is always asking for some time and attention and the father puts him off: "Not today, I got a lot to do." The son asks his dad when he's coming home and the father responds promising, "I don't know when, but you know we'll have a good time then."
Finally the dad retires and his son lives a long way off. The dad calls the son saying he'd like to see him, but the son doesn't have the time. It is then that the father realizes that his son, indeed, has grown up to be just like him.
I heard a father of three and seven-year-olds introduce himself recently saying, "Being a father is the best and hardest job I've ever had." The National Father Initiative www.fatherhood.org <http://www.fatherhood.org> is engaged in a major campaign to encourage fathers especially in their parenting role. Fathers are emphasized because in our culture, even though there have been many changes, it is probably still easier for mothers to take up an active parenting role than fathers. For instance, while companies theoretically may make it possible for a father to leave work to take a child to the doctor, there is subtle pressure to not take advantage of such policies-somehow it is not considered to be a sign of a good employee. Especially where divorce occurs, it is hard for fathers to stay involved. And too many children grow up with no father in their life at all.
Whether you are a father or mother, turn from your busyness even for ten minutes today, and really focus on your children. Go to the park, toss a football, put down your paper or work and listen if they have something to tell you. Get in the habit of giving your full attention even for brief periods every day. Then you'll be proud when they grow up to be just like you, Dad and Mom.
For a free pamphlet "Ten Ways to be a Better Dad" write to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 785 words; end material = 105 words
We would appreciate it if you would include the "Globe Syndicate" bug at the end of the column.
©2002 by Globe Syndicate, all rights reserved.