Dear Alex,

You know that I am one of your biggest fans. We watch Jeopardy! every night in our home, inviting you in like an old friend. I am enamored of your flawless enunciation, the way your tone changes to that of slight rebuke when a single player continues to give wrong answers several times in a row, the way your eyes and corners of your mouth raise when it is clear the writers have authored a total dud of a stumper category that yields almost no correct answers, the way you flick your wrist when checking off a question on your lectern.

Seeing you reunited with my all-time favorite contestant, Ken (yes, I read his first book when it came out), last month for the competition against the computer Watson was like eating manna. That was Jeopardy! bliss. The dry humor, the sometime air of a cheerleader, the stern authority of a displeased teacher—Alex, you can do it all.

This week, however, I have a request. Please refrain from that tone of incredulity in your voice when referring to three-day champion Megan as a “stay-at-home-mom.” It almost seems like you are slightly surprised that a single one of us has enough brain cells to play Jeopardy!—nevermind that at least one of us (whom I happen to know well) can routinely wipe out whole categories on a nightly basis (with the exception of Potent Potables and sports categories and some questions about recent television shows).

Now, now, I am on your side, of course: I know the producers are urging you to play up this angle of Megan, the SAHM. It’s just that this ruse is so thinly veiled: you don’t seem to make many comments about the professions of other champions. The first time you used that tone with me, I let it go. After hearing it yet again tonight, however, I have to say something. Of course, I know (having read all about it from Ken) that all of these episodes are prerecorded and that therefore I may have to endure this all week.

You made me curious, though, I must admit. I started researching the education data on SAHMs. To my surprise—given what seems like more media attention in recent years to high-achieving mothers who leave the world of external careers—the education data looks much different than I thought. Still, Alex, it is not reasonable to assume that SAHMs, with or without a formal education, lead lives separate from all knowledge. Knowledge abounds—and many of us seek it out in our spare hours.

Okay, I am sorry to pick on you like this, Alex. You have brought me years of joy, truly. It isn’t your fault entirely—I know that SAHMs are the recipients of negative stereotypes, just like any group. I only ask you to recognize that many of us SAHMs are actually teaching all day long, creating learning experiences for our children, searching out experiences, managing a whole household, coordinating events, and also engaging in epic proportions of physical labor as we hoist up children on our hips (sometimes both at once), haul around the vacuum, balance towering basketfuls of laundry up and down stairs, and rarely put our feet up (even to eat a quick breakfast). And when we do have that spare hour here or there, we read (“hard” books, too!), we write, we think back on our university courses, we seek out new knowledge on our iPads, we contemplate the finer points of existence. I don’t feel I gave up my brain to be a mother—I’ve never felt that. In fact, I feel this has been the greatest challenge (requiring the most mental discipline and creativity) of which I have ever been blessed to be a part. The intellectual side of me feeds into my role as a mother: I did not sacrifice one for the other. I simply made a choice about where to put that intellectual curiosity, vitality, and energy. Trivia is fun; true deep knowledge is even better; my children are for always.

And I can still rock Jeopardy! (depending on the night). So yes, Alex, kudos to Megan for representing the SAHM-units! But it isn’t that unusual. No more incredulity, okay?

Sincerely,

Your Biggest Fan

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