Motherhood Translated

Motherhood Translated

Motherhood Translated

Is mothering really work?

A judge once asked my dad where my mom worked. My dad dismissively replied that she didn’t work. She just stayed home with the kids. Incredulous, the judge questioned his assessment that raising four kids wasn’t work, stating my dad truly spoke like one who’d never spent much time with kids.

Today, people often ask my work at home mother friends questions like, “What do you even do all day?” Other times, they express envy that these mothers get to lounge around the house all day and do, well, not much of anything. Like the judge who once questioned my dad, I can’t help but think, “Spoken like someone who hasn’t spent much time with kids!”

I’d like to offer some job title suggestions for work-at-home parents asked what they do all day. Because I work within IT (“Information Technology”), my offerings are based on IT jobs. Use of this shorthand to explain your job might make it more understandable to some monetarily recompensed professionals. As a bonus, it should take less of your time.

“Among other things, I’m a . . .”

* Project manager: This person is responsible for planning, executing and closing projects.

Some of your projects are smaller, such as submitting a preschool application having compiled all the requested references, vaccination records and information about your child’s development to date. Other projects are more complex, like planning a twenty-child birthday party with various stakeholders–such as grandparents and godparents–telling you what would make the party even more special. You constantly juggle dozens of projects, without the respite of a real weekend.

* Technical support analyst: This person is responsible for resolving users’ product issues.

You are constantly troubleshooting user problems with things like toys, mystery coughs, and missing necessities like pacifiers and teddy bears with users who don’t really speak your language very well. Your peace is contingent upon their satisfaction.

* Security analyst: This person is responsible for protecting users data and data users.

You are vigilant about assessing and protecting your children from inside and outside attacks. You are constantly aware of and responsive to changes in the multiple environments through which your children pass. You not only establish rules, safeguards and procedures to keep your child as safe as possible, but constantly update them based on new information from multiple pertinent news and safety sources.

But will it work?

There’s no guarantee any other person will understand the true complexity of your profession, which combines these job roles and many more. But maybe, just maybe, with translation into a language more familiar to them, they’ll come closer to seeing it’s so much more than sipping martinis in sweatpants.

Have you been asked what you do all day? How have you replied?
What other job titles do you think motherhood encompasses?

Deborah Bryan

Article written by

From researching killer whales in British Columbia as a teen to volunteering as a tutor in law school to running a couple of marathons and one barefoot half marathon, she carries some pretty remarkable memories close to heart. Her life day to day now doesn't include quite so many extracurriculars, but she is content within it.


Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a Guest Blogger of and is provided in order to offer a variety of thoughtful points of view. The opinions expressed on this Perspectives Blog post do not reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or As such, Dr. Greene and are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. This post is used under Creative Commons License CC BY-ND 3.0


  • Thoughtsy Appear

    “You are constantly troubleshooting user problems…with users who don’t really speak your language very well.”—Love this!

    • Deborah Bryan


  • Mary Bird Lanzavecchia

    I can’t tell you how much I LOVE this post! As a woman who left the corporate world of marketing, I began my venture into being a stay-at-home mom with this question (by a fellow pregnant marketing professional), “But what will you be teaching your daughter if you stop working?” Though many responses ran through my mind, I couldn’t articulate a “clean” response at the time. I sheepishly said I wouldn’t be “gone” for long; in essence, I agreed that staying home wasn’t “real” work, even though my high school and college years as a babysitter and nanny had taught me otherwise.
    As a mom who has been home with children for the last (almost) 20 years, I’ve been a full-time mom, a business owner, and a homeschool mom. I think it is terribly sad that we have to explain (justify) what we do all day as stay-at-home parents. However, I think this list offers some great alternative titles to bestow upon our daily routine. I can honestly said I’ve held each of those above titles and I have a few more to offer:
    Tutor/Teacher: Whether or not you’ve homeschooled, if you’ve offered help on a math problem, the correct use of a comma, or a social studies, project, you’ve been a teacher/tutor to their child. (This applies equally to parents working outside the home .)
    Logistics Manager: I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to figure out how to get one daughter to the orthodontist and the other to a play practice with the same start time. Same could be said of meal planning and delivery when half the family will be late. The logistics demands of a stay-at-home parent are endless.
    Master Scheduler: Speaking of those demands, remembering to schedule the ortho. appointments, my spouse’s dentist appointment, when practices, friend dates, and animal shots are just a few of the duties under this title.
    Maintenance Manager: If the toilet backs up, I’m first to know. It the vacuum breaks, complaints come to me. When shoes need to be replaced or we’ve run out of ________, I hear about it. Yep, most of the maintenance either falls on my shoulders or getting the resources to fix it do.
    I could go on and I’m sure there are many that could as well. If there is anything I’ve learned in the last 20 years of being a stay-at-home mom, it’s that sitting on the couch, eating bon-bons has never been a part of my job description. But, oh how I wish it was some days!

    • Deborah Bryan

      Thank you so, so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! Every single one your offerings rings so true to me, and to think–there are still so many more!

      The last few months, I’ve been reflecting a lot on . . . how things have been, how things are, how I want them to be. Some things that used to feel hazy to me have come into clarity. I used to be embarrassed that I didn’t know everything right from the get-go, but now it’s exciting to see signs that I’m learning as I go.

      I wish I could have seen some of these particular signs a little early, so I could have told my mom, but I take heart in knowing that I respond to the past by what I make of the future.

      Thank you again for your awesome food for thought. <3

  • AndreaBaileyWillits

    I love this post! So funny and articulate! I think you pretty much covered it, but I would maybe add life coach and spiritual guide. ;) Just began following your posts and am thrilled to have found you. I work from home and am always striving for a sustainable work-life balance, while keeping in mind that even though it doesn’t “pay,” mothering is a fulltime job worthy of respect.

    • Deborah Bryan

      Those are both excellent, apt offerings! I love your comment and am so grateful for your taking out the time not only to read but to share your thoughts. Thank you. :)

  • Ermine Cunningham

    What a creative take on what mothers do all day and into the late hours! Articles like this help mend the socially-contrived rift between mothers who work at home and outside the home. Let’s support each other in raising our children rather than judging each other. Great post, Deborah!

  • Jon

    I like your article. I’ve got a couple job titles that weren’t covered…

    How about “life coach”, “mentor”, “logistics coordinator “, conflict resolution expert, nutritionist, litigator, how about… Childhood Developmental expert and educational advisor, how about Mom because job titles describe services offered to anyone whereas no one can pay for the kind of personal investment you get from mom.