That Poor Survey Woman…

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!

Dear Canada,

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


15 thoughts on “That Poor Survey Woman…

  1. Heather, I’m so glad you wrote this post. I can identify with the job and joy that motherhood is, especially since I also work from home and homeschool my kids. But I WOULD NOT change a thing about my life, as I have seen my older kids grow to be all that I have hoped for and more. Keep up the hard and impassioned work, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement! Wow! Homeschooling and working from home. That’s amazing! I love to hear from moms who’ve gone through it and are now seeing the fruit of their efforts, it really brings hope to us who are still in the middle of it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the way these survey-makers do, even though I’ve been a stay at home mother for the last 14 years. It’s led to my thinking about motherhood and my reservations and stigma for almost all that time.

    Out of curiosity, why do you have to take that survey? We don’t have anything like that (that I’ve heard of) down here in the USofA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a very good question!

      I actually had no idea so I went to the following site: (included if you’re interested in reading more about the survey)

      Your question was under the most frequently asked, and here’s the answer they provided:

      Do I have to participate?

      Participation in the Census of Population and the Census of Agriculture is mandatory pursuant to the Statistics Act. All Canadian households must complete a Census of Population questionnaire.

      If Statistics Canada contacts you for the Labour Force Survey, a business survey or an agricultural survey, you are also obligated to participate pursuant to the Statistics Act.

      For other Statistics Canada surveys, participation is voluntary.

      Your participation is important.

      To ensure the most complete results, it is very important that the people, households, businesses and agricultural operations selected answer the survey questions. Without your co-operation, Statistics Canada could not produce reliable, essential data.

      The information gathered in our surveys has a direct impact on Canadians’ lives. Moreover, all of your responses are equally important.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I also must add that I have no problem with women going back to work and men staying home – provided, of course, that the women isn’t expected to then come home and take on even more than her share of household tasks. I also don’t have an issue with both parents working, provided that their priority is always the family.
      Your response was intriguing to me! May I ask, then, what made you decide to stay home with your children? (No need to answer if it’s too personal!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ball of wax, Heather, that I occasionally have time to pull out and examine.

        I’m not offended because, to me, it’s a puzzle I’ve been trying to solve for so long. -Mostly, why do I have such a problem/why do I feel so unfulfilled and unhappy being a mother? more than Why did I choose (still choose) to do this for life?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Interestingly enough, I love kids, but I’ve also felt that unfulfilled feeling in Motherhood. Crazy isn’t it? I’m pretty sure most mothers out there feel this way most of the time, if not, at least at some point along the way, yet we do it because we love those little humans we’ve created. This would make an excellent future blog post come to think…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m based in the U.S., but I am pretty angry about this myself lately. I recently picked up a part time job to help with house expense and so I can reinvest what I’ve started making on my blog on my blog. I’ve had so many people “congratulate” me for returning to the workplace it’s sickening. There’s literally no value seen in being a stay at home mom anymore, and perhaps that’s why our young people act so entitled and ungrateful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s very sad indeed! It says a lot about our culture. I guess it’s up to those who realize the value of stay at home moms, to regularly speak out about it! Thanks for reading this and for your thoughtful comment.


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