Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The Right [Curse] to WorkTell me you haven't received at least one email like this (all typographical errors have been retained for your enjoyment):
Of course ending with "please send this to all mums that you know!!!!!!"A woman, renewing her driver's licence ,
was asked by the woman at Registry to state her occupation.
She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.
'What I mean is, ' explained the woman at Registry,
'do you have a job or are you just a .....?'
'Of course I have a job,' snapped the woman.
'I'm a Mum.'
'We don't list 'Mum' as an occupation,
'housewife' covers it,'
Said the recorder emphatically.
I forgot all about her story until one day I found myselfin the same situation.
The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised,
efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like,
'Official Interrogator' or 'City Registrar.'
'What is your occupation?' she probed.
What made me say it? I do not know.
The words simply popped out
'I'm a Research Associate in the field of
Child Development and Human Relations.'
The clerk 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 clerk 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 out).
I'm working for my Masters, (the whole family)
and already have four credits (all daughters).
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 is more like it).
But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careersand the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money.'
There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk'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 -- ages 13, 7, and 3.
Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model,
(a 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 moredistinguished and indispensable to mankind than 'just another Mum.'Motherhood!
What a glorious career!
Variations on this theme are ubiquitous (I'm thinking of the one where someone figures out how much money motherhood would be worth on the job market). But have a big bone to pick with it all. Motherhood is not and never will be comparable to a job where people pay you. It's. Just. Not. In fact, the two have nothing in common.
See, according to Judaism, working is neither a right, an honor, or a privilege. It's a... ready?
Curse. Given to... ready?
And pregnancy, labor, and the difficulty in child-rearing is a... (you already knew this) curse!
Given to (you already knew this)...
For what? For the sin of eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
Now for the disclaimers:
1. For some, working is an outlet, a way to feel useful, to give to society. I refer to needing to work in order to eat. (The source states: "by the sweat of your brow will you [be able to] eat bread." Far cry from part-timing it to deal with empty-nest syndrome.)
2. In some families, women help out with the bread-winning, and men help out with the child-raising. This is good. We help each other deal with our mutual curses. That's called "being kind" and is a pleasant character trait. Keep it up. Even, sometimes, women are primary bread-winners, and men are primary child-raisers. This is OK too. Nothing forbidden about that.
3. Equal pay for equal work is unrelated to this teaching.
4. We should still be grateful to the members of each gender for their hard work in their respective curses. Just because they're cursed doesn't mean we have it lord it over them. But to envy someone else's curse seems rather unseemly.
Do you think?
For those of you that are into sources, check out Genesis/Bereishit/s 3:17 and 19.