Patch columnist Brenda Kelley Kim talks about moms, movie stars and mechanics
“All work is honorable.” - Colin Powell
I heard this quote from a friend of mine this week and it called to mind discussions I’ve had about just what constitutes work. And is there honor in everything that we work at?
My first paying job other than babysitting was at a fast food restaurant when I was 15. I wore a bad polyester uniform, ugly shoes and yes, I did have to ask “do you want fries with that?” I learned some important lessons that summer, not the least of which was that while wearing a paper hat and flipping burgers is an honest day’s work, it is hard to feel honorable when the rest of your friends are on the beach.
If you are a nanny or a licensed childcare provider you have a profession. If you clean houses you work. But if you do those same things for your own children is that a job? I personally don’t think it is. A job is something you get paid for. Work is everything else you do. We spend a lot of time honoring mothers (and fathers and grandparents etc) and that is all fine. But every mother I know will say that a good babysitter is worth their weight in gold.
It is real work to raise children. And I firmly believe there is honor in it. I do not believe however, that it’s the toughest job in the world. I’ve had a lot of jobs but "mother" was never one of them. Mom is who I am, not my occupation. For me personally, while I have had some tough days as a mom, for the most part my hardest day as a mother was still easier than some other things I could name. If your job description includes the possibility of getting shot at or climbing a ladder into a burning building you have a tougher job than I do.
Not for nothing, I think the person that bags groceries has it harder than I do. I’d last ten minutes in that job. I have trouble getting the bags from the car to the house without dropping something, there is no way I could be trusted not to squash the bread to a pulpy mess under a dozen (and likely broken) eggs.
This year $18.6 billion was spent on Mother's Day gifts, that’s an average of $152 per person. Despite a slow economy, that is up $12 per person from last year. But my work as a mom would grind to a halt if there weren’t other people doing their jobs well. To name just three: a good plumber, a trusted auto mechanic and a rock star babysitter. They are all essential to keeping me going in this mother gig. But is there a Plumber's Day? Turns out there is, April 25, 2012. There is also a Childcare Provider Appreciation Day. FYI, it was May 11th this year.
There are so many others too. When was the last time someone picking up the trash got a “Thank you?” What about the crossing guards at our schools? I know some parents did remember them on the last day of school with a thank you note or a gift card, but what about the other 179 days? How about honoring their work by not racing through the crosswalk inches from their stop sign? Our kids are precious cargo, but how many of them say thank you to the driver when they get off the school bus? Almost none, sadly.
All work is honorable. Most people do not have glamorous jobs however. We have a touch of Hollywood going on locally now; the movie stars have come to town. Hordes of people are watching and waiting for a star sighting, an autograph and a picture with someone famous. But right alongside all the glitz and shine of show business are hundreds of behind the scenes people. And right next them are our town cops. Standing in the hot sun for eight hours at a stretch keeping traffic moving and making sure everyone stays safe and sane. Law Enforcement Appreciation Day was May 17, 2012; I missed it so let me say it now, Theresa you rock!
I admit, I did not know about any of these special days that acknowledge some of the hard work that makes my life easier. All work is honorable but not all work is honored. That is something I am going to try and be more aware of. And to Mike the plumber, Alan who keeps my car on the road and Kate, a true rock star of childcare, thank you.