Friday, March 25, 2011

And The Category Is.....

Recently, wisdom had me keep my mouth shut in a situation where my initial thoughts were ones of being dumbfounded, then ticked.  I simmered in my astonishment before settling in to hash out my exact feelings on the subject.  Although this letter will never make it to the guy who left me speechless, I sure feel better after getting this down on paper.

Dear Screener Man for XYZ Research Company,

Yesterday, you and I spoke for a few minutes regarding an upcoming research study for which you were screening me.  I thought our conversation started pleasantly enough, and I was excited to see if I qualified for the good-paying study group that was being put together for moms.

After verifying my name, age, children’s ages and other demographic information, you asked if I was “employed, unemployed or retired.” Upon realizing there were no other categories from which to choose, I said, “Well then, I guess I’d be considered unemployed.”  While I kept my voice happy and cheerful, I was already bristling on the inside. Really?  My life is now limited to three categories?  You said, “Ok, so you’re not working” to which I replied, “Well, I’m a homemaker and unsure how to define when I’m NOT working!”  As if your comment about me not working wasn’t enough, you then said, “Oh, I’m really sorry to hear that.  I’m sure it’s not what you want and I hope that changes soon for you.”


Actually, it IS my choice to stay home and I do not wish it to change! As a matter of fact, I have been homeschooling my kids for the past eleven years, which takes an astonishing amount of time.  I am sure you are familiar with the quips that state some version of: “I am a nurse, a chauffeur, a social worker, a tutor, a psychologist, an organizer, on-call 24 hours a day” etc. with the bottom line being, “I am a mom.”

Whether or not I am working outside the home, please do not ever say that I am not working.  EVERY mom is a working mom!  

Earlier in our conversation, we had established the fact that I have three children.  Exactly where do you think they would be in life were it not for my very hard work?  And, when I chose to stay home, please do not belittle my choice, feel sorry for me or wish me out of my current situation.

There are many women who have to work, but wish they were home, and there are women who are home, but wish they were working. And, there are many, many women who work their tails off to be able to stay home.  I am one of the work-my-tail-off, stay-at-home moms.

For your own job security, I would highly recommend that you are more careful in your choice of words and guarded in your assumptions.  My own mom (an “unemployed” mom who “didn’t work”) taught me an easy reminder about being careful when we are tempted to ASSUME something.  It makes an ASS of U and ME.

And as a side note, it did not help matters that I did not qualify for your study on “food packaging geared towards kids” because I homeschool my children.  If only they were “in real school, it would have worked out” even though the focus group was for me.  It would seem your company assumes that homeschooled kids have no opinions or social life and don’t want/beg for the kid-dazzling food products and packaging.  Interesting.

Good luck in your recruiting efforts.  You may need it more than you think.

A non-working mom

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