A couple weeks ago Statistics Canada called me on my camping vacation to participate in “month two” of my four month survey – mandatory by law – of course, or no one would sit through a second (or honestly even the first).
The survey topic? Work and Employment.
Which quite honestly hit a few nerves on the first week for this mother of five. Even on a good day, asking a mother who has worked from before the sun rises most mornings for absolutely nothing in return other than the well being of her family, “if she has done anything in the past week that qualifies as work” and then EXPECTING her to say “no” is not only insensitive, it’s foolish.
Being asked that after a week of sleepless nights and VERY difficult behavioural issues with a couple of children and what can you expect, but a very, very emotional and upset response?
The questionnaire, which is repeatedly done for four months, asks questions such as:
Have you done anything qualifying as work the past week?
Are you currently looking for work?
Why are you not looking for work?
With the childcare available in Canada, what is keeping you from wanting to work?
All of the questions above, taking into consideration, is a slap in the face to a stay at home mom.
And suddenly I snapped.
“Pardon me,” I cut in sharply, “But I would like to let you know that this whole survey is really offensive to me! I mean, I know you personally didn’t make this survey,” I told the poor lady on the phone, “But what right do you have to ask a hardworking mother of five, why I’m not sticking my kids in daycare to make money?!? What right does someone have to assume that is a sensitive or appropriate question?!? And that mothering doesn’t “qualify for work”, but working in a daycare does? What right does my government have to make me feel useless for choosing my own children over a job that makes money?”
And yes, I did pity the poor woman as she stumbled and stammered out a compassionate response about this survey “not trying to put down hard working mothers” but desperate to get my point across I continued:
“Seriously,” I said, “I would like you to make a note of this on my survey. That this survey is inappropriate for countless reasons. Because quite honestly, I believe the purpose in asking these questions four months in a row is to put on some pressure on those who are “unemployed.”
The survey woman paused and said, I kid you not, “Well, I’m sure as soon as your kids are in school you’ll be able to finally get a job. No one is saying you are lazy.”
At this point, I began to cry, because I was heartbroken that our culture has drifted so far in just a few short years. My grandmother would’ve never been expected to “return to work” once her children were in school. Because the things that she did in that day and age were valued.
Growing a garden and canning has value.
Making homemade, healthy meals, has value.
Volunteering has value.
Disciplining children and helping with homework has value.
So does cleaning, organizing, and mending clothes.
Someone has to drive those kids to sports, music lessons and social events.
Babysitting for others. Blessing neighbours with baked goods. Taking meals to younger mothers who’ve just had a baby or families who’ve lost loved ones.
These things have value!
And if I do something that “qualifies as work” in Canada…all those things I just mentioned, will be pushed off onto someone else or not done at all. And we wonder why everyone is depressed and anxious! Why neighbours don’t talk anymore? Why people suffer their hardships alone?
It’s because somewhere along the way, someone decided that mothering and running a household doesn’t have value!
I wonder if we decided to value mothers, how much less we’d spend on the foster care system, on juvenile detention centres, on prisons, on mental healthcare. I wonder if families would stay together, if divorce rates would drop, if children were given a safe place to grow up?
I wonder if we defined importance, not by monetary value, but by character and ethics, what types of people would be honoured most highly? I wonder if we’d see through the cracked foundations we are so quickly and carelessly pouring for the next generation – if we’d really stop and consider what the effects are of our face-paced, workaholic world… I wonder if we would change.
Would we value mothers, if we slowed down enough to see them?
Why not do a compulsory survey about the despairing effects of distracted parenting? Of workaholism?
I believe the results would be staggering.
Maybe, just maybe, getting more civilians into the workforce to pay taxes isn’t the answer to our countries reckless debt and spending issues. Maybe, it all comes down to those cracked foundations we’re building on. Maybe it’s not about the money. Maybe it’s about the people.
A Mother who does Valuable Work at Home