That’s what he said. The professor in the journalism department at California State University, Sacramento, in conversation with me. This professor was not mine, I didn’t take any classes with him. It was simply a matter of proximity that I even knew him. Journalism was situated in the same building as the department of Communication Studies, my major. I decided to pop my head into the office housing my favorite journalism instructor…as he came to be known. Funny guy, curmudgeonly type. Wire rim glasses and messy hair.
He didn’t have to say much, yet, whatever it was he said, I laughed. Except for one occasion when I didn’t see the humor in it. I had indulged in fun banter with my favorite previously, this comment from him carried a serious note. It came on the heels of the explanation regarding my role as stay-at-home mom. The role I had chosen feeling the complete conviction of my passion to provide for little ones. Of course, this role is devoid of cash, sick days, and vacation time. At times it even felt as though I had been cast off into a deprivation chamber. This mom speaks solely for herself…and wherever others like her can be found.
The professor spoke making the pronouncement, “WOMEN WHO STAY HOME ARE IN THE MOST DISENFRANCHISED DEMOGRAPHIC.”
There. That was it. I think I was conspicuously mute at that point. What a slap, like a bucket of frigid water thrown to my face. Never had I taken in such a statement. But, there was little else to make of it. His proclamation was spot on. So what of my years (10) devoted to staying home? At this fine university while speaking to my journalism friend, I was transformed. No more poopie baby diapers for me. Hell no! I was liberated (UGH!) at 52 years of age, on the fast track (now it’s my turn to be funny) and sitting in the doorway of this man’s office listening to a deafening declaration.
Abysmal loneliness and the radical departure from workplace duties & camaraderie we may have experienced in a former life. The inherent course of direction for many of us women who stay home. Life altering. Classic. Easily recognized disadvantages. No union representation. No structured support network. And no time clock to punch…a mom is always on duty. The professor hit a nerve. I have repeated his words to my family. In fact, the young moms I came to know within the very small, rural town in which I lived, were all in the proverbial same boat. The boat in which we shared lack of cash, sleep deprivation, and diapers and sippee cups. The boat from which we disembarked with a few stolen moments to indulge in grocery shopping or Sunday school or the pharmacy where the bladder infection prescription was waiting.
It just hit hard, what my journalism buddy told me. I have played it through my head countless times. I so enjoyed my brief and limited conversations with him. A funny guy with messy hair and a profound, and somewhat unsettling statement for all of us in the trenches with our children, at home. Disenfranchised.
It has been said that should women who stay home earn minimum wage for each hour of their duties as: Nurse. Playmate. Cook. Laundress. Storyteller. Grocery-getter. Instructor. Housekeeper. The year total income would be six-figure. Is there any retroactive pay?