After more than a year back in the US*, I finally have a doctor. I tried to schedule an appointment with her, but of course she was out of town. So I ended up seeing her associate instead.
In his small talk, he asked what I do. I hesitated, unsure what to say, so he added in an encouraging voice, “Or are you retired?”
I shook my head. “No. I’m a stay-at-home Mom.”
His brow furrowed. (Shaddup. I know it’s a cliche, but it did! His brow furrowed!). Frowning, he said in a stern, scolding voice, “You’re too old to be a stay-at-home Mom!”
I was dumbfounded. Finally, I stuttered out, “I … I started late,” and we moved on to another topic.
But the more I think about it, the more pissed off I get. He was obviously fine with the idea of me being retired from a job, so his issue clearly wasn’t with me not working. But apparently he thinks that one cannot retire from full-time parenting. At some point, apparently, a full-time parent is expected to go out and get a REAL job.
But when? When the children start elementary school? High school? Move out???? By the time my children move out, I’ll be too old and far too long out of the workplace to reclaim any career I had before they were born.
Plus, his statement was discriminatory on several levels. First, it’s ageist. Nowadays, women can have babies into their 50s, and men even older than that. Tony Curtis had a baby when he was 80! Which probably makes his comment sexist too.
But it’s also absurd. I am a stay-at-home mother. Even when I’m writing, I’m a stay-at-home mother as my day job. And I still have two teens at home, one of whom is disabled and the other of whom probably also is (more on this soon, when I know more).
So his rude remark was also ableist. With a disabled child, a mother might be a stay-at-home mom until either mother or child dies!
Then it struck me … we have no word for a woman whose primary job was mothering after her children are grown and gone.
When someone working outside the home leaves that job, we call them a retiree, and there is honor and respect in the title.
But when a mother’s children move out, what is she? Washed up and useless? That’s certainly the implication. There’s no title and no respect or honor either.
Damn. I better starting writing again. I am NOT willing to be a housewife!
*A little more than a year to find a doctor was slightly shorter than it took in Canada — but in Canada, I wasn’t paying $1500 a month for the privilege of healthcare I couldn’t access. Heck, in Canada I didn’t pay anything, not even after we found a doctor!