Friday, May 16, 2008

I am a Mother. I am an Engineer.

This posting might offend you so I apologize in advance. But, I have to get this off my chest... I am not attacking anyone directly. I am not responding to a specific person... I just need to say something before I explode. So here goes:

Everyone has those those irrational pet peeves that just jump on every nerve. I admit it... I have quite a few. Who doesn't? Most of mine are harmless: not putting the cap on the toothpaste, people wearing pants that are too short, those who get in the express lane with more than 12 items, those people who think that if you just drive slower when you are talking on a phone, you won't cause an accident...

Most of the time, I mutter/think to myself, "Why can't you just flip the cap down on the toothpaste?" or "did you forget how to count?" and let it go from my mind. Today, with my bad day going and my headache blaring, I have the urge to say something. So, if I offend you, I am truly sorry... This is just my opinion and the opinion of several of my coworkers who are also engineers from lunch today.

Per the dictionary, the definition for engineer is:
1. a person trained and skilled in the design, construction, and use of engines or machines, or in any of various branches of engineering: a mechanical engineer; a civil engineer.
2. a person who operates or is in charge of an engine.

Lately, it has come to pass that "a skillful manager" has been added to the term to use engineer as an verb - not a noun... as in "he skillfully engineered the proposal". It has also been linked to garbage collectors (sanitation engineer) and stay at home moms (domestic engineer) for some reason. It drives me ABSOLUTELY batty when it's attached to a word that has nothing to do with engineering!

A domestic engineer... I think its supposed to mean someone who manages the household and family. It's supposed to sound more professional than stay-at-home mom (SAHM), homemaker, or housewife. When did saying 'I am a SAHM' become such a negative thing? I have read website after website, blog after blog, stating that being a mother is the most amazing vocation in the world. I happen to agree.. and if your choice - the best thing for your family - is to stay at home, than BE PROUD OF IT! Don't use an invented term to make it sound more impressive to others ... do their opinions really matter to you?

I worked really hard to get my engineering degree - 4 years of calculus and 2 years of advanced physics and multiple classes on fluid and soil mechanics, electrical and computer sciences... to graduate with the dual degree of Environmental/Mechanical Engineer. I am very proud to say that I am an engineer.

I am also very proud to be raising my daughter for the last 4 years. When people ask what my job is, I say "Engineer" because it is my job... not my life. Your job isn't necessarily the same as your life. My life involves being a mother and a wife, a sister and a daughter, a granddaughter, an aunt, and a friend. I also happen to work as an engineer.

And why do you have to have a job? Didn't you make this decision when you chose to stay home with your child? Why do we let what we do daily define who we tell people we are? If you are a stay at home mom, you don't have a traditional job in the working world. If someone asks you what you do, simply say, I am a stay at home mom or I am taking time out of my career to raise my children. Be proud of what who you are and what you do. Don't try to fancy it up so other's can perceive your job differently than you think they will if you use the SAHM title. Do you not realize that in their minds, they are translating domestic engineer to be stay at home mom anyway? Why bother saying it then? All you do is manage to annoy those of us who are engineers (by the way, all the coworkers I am talking about are also working moms)...

So the next time someone asks you what your job is, don't answer it as a job, answer it as what you do. Simply say, I am a {blank}. That way, we won't have to come up with fancy terms to say something so others will be impressed. Some of the strongest, most capable women I know are SAHM. So don't be afraid to be proud of who you are and what you do...

I will continue to be as proud of my life: I am a Mom and an Engineer. One is my life and the other is my job. Be proud of what you do, too...

Okay... off my soapbox...

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