AP English III
October 21, 2011
In Bonnie Smith-Yackel’s personal essay “My Mother Never Worked”, Smith-Yackel presents us with a situation where she describes her mother as a hard working woman. She starts the essay in the present time with a phone call to a social security office. While on hold, the author reflects on how much her mother worked during her life, but after the operator returns, she informs Smith-Yackel that her mother never worked.
I was surprised when the family did not get the death benefit check. Obviously Smith-Yackel’s mother worked very hard during her life, but all her hard work was not considered “work” because she did not bring-in an income from a public job to her family. Just because the government does not consider her time and labor to be equivalent to a “job”, it does not mean she did not do anything to provide for her family. She had to work extremely hard for her farm and family to survive: all the animals and children needed tending and the only way for this to happen was for Smith-Yackel’s mother to work vigorously on the farm and in the house. To the social security office, this was not considered a sufficient “job” because she was not recognized as an employee who paid social security benefits in the eyes of the government, even though she worked long hard hours and raised a family while taking care of a farm.
I would have been very angry if my mom did not receive the death benefit check, but I would not argue with the government if my she was not eligible for one. My mother has a job outside of her home, where she is paying social security benefits and is supported by the government, but if she did not have a job, I know she would still be a hard working woman. She would work diligently on raising her children and make sure that she could provide for her family. I could only imagine the reaction that Smith-Yackel had when the operator told her that her mother was not qualified for the check. How could that be possible when she spent every daylight hour working? I was hoping that the family would get the check, but the story’s title, “My Mother Never Worked”, told me they would not. It was a predictable ending, yet I still found myself hoping for a different conclusion.