A friend of mine sent me a link to the Redmond chapter of Mothers & More today and I could not help but notice the tagline: The Network for Sequencing Women.

I had to Google ‘sequencing women’ because I thought it was an association for women in genetics. Of course, the first hit was a definition by Mothers & More itself.

Mothers & More represents women who – by choice or circumstance – alter their participation in the paid workplace over the course of their active parenting years. We recognize the needs of the growing number of mothers who move in and out of paid employment and/or opt for a variety of flexible work arrangements in order to balance successfully their work and family responsibilities. This fluid work pattern, which occurs over a number of years and at various stages of motherhood, is known as “sequencing”. The term sequencing was coined by Arlene Rossen Cardozo in her 1986 book, Sequencing.

Here are some actual definitions of the word ‘sequencing’:

  • Determination of the order of nucleotides (base sequences) in a DNA or RNA molecule or the order of amino acids in a protein
  • Reading, listening, expressing thoughts, describing events or contracting muscles in an orderly and meaningful manner
  • Sequencing controls the order and time delay for output voltage appearance as well as dropout when power supplies are turned on and/or of
  • Dividing information into smaller, numbered pieces, transmitting it, and reassembling it once it has been received
  • In human behavior, doing things in a logical, predictable order.

The last one had me chuckling. Note that this was the definition provided by the Alzheimer’s Association. So unless you have Alzheimer’s, you’d know that choosing to quit your job to be a full-time parent isn’t really logical nor predictable. Rather, most of the time, it starts out as a naive, idealistic choice. That’s because most of us imagine sunny days spent watching our kids play independently in the backyard. We imagine lazing back in our Adirondack chairs, our slim, golden bikin-clad bodies roasting gently in the summer sun, a tall, cool glass of lemonade (or a festive mojito) in one hand, laughing contentedly as our kids act all cute running through the high, fine spray of our sprinklers. The skies are always blue, the grass always green, diapers always changed, laundry always done, dinner always ready, pantries and fridges always stocked, carpets always vacuumed, glass always full and hormones and body in perpetual harmony.

Sequencing. Besides being a funny big word to mean a very simple thing, I question its need. Americans, I think, love coming up with (or blatantly borrowing) new terms to politically-correctly (is there such a word?) describe what they think are 21st-century circumstances when in fact, working class women in Asia have been weaving in and out of work and parenthood since…there were women. Back when Indonesian maids were mainly still in Indonesia, Malay and Chinese and Indian women worked in the fields or in the mines or as servants in the houses of rich families or help their husbands in their own little family businesses to put food on the table. If they got pregnant, they worked through the pregnancy, and when the baby (or often, babies) is/are born, they stayed home to care for their kids, along with grandma or grandpa or whoever, whichever older relative was living in the same house. Whenever these women felt they were up to it, they’d go back to work. Often, they were presented with only one of two hard choices: Stay at home and your kids will starve. Go to work and leave your kids to the elements. Do whatever it takes and try not think too much about it.

Were they sequencing? Yes. Did they need NOT to be judged and to be acknowledged for their efforts? Hell, yea. Did they care? No.

With all the books written about opting out and opting back in again and whether women stupid for wasting their opportunities and lives by quitting their jobs just to parent full-time, or if they’re selfish, irresponsible career-obsessed men-wannabes for wanting to chase their dreams of fame and fortune, it all comes down to one thing. Well, I think it does. And the thing is, what makes you happy? If you enjoy your work, and are the type of person who needs to stay busy and earn money to be fulfilled, then go for it. If you enjoy being there with your kids all day, even through the unpredictable bowel movements and illogical temper tantrums, then do it. If you like a mix of both, then open an Internet business. There is more to technology than Google and Solitaire, ladies. Open an eBay shop. Blog for money. Play poker. In my case, I opened a cooperative preschool because, well, I’m insane.

It can be as simple as that.

Because when it comes down to it, happy people make happy parents.

No need for some big, convoluted debate about who’s right and who’s right-er.

No need for therapy.

No need for fancy new-old words.