the right words

The un-rude way to ask a new mom if she works

One of the hidden benefits of being in the trenches of Newbornland on maternity leave is that in your new latte-drinking, up-all-night social life, you're likely to make other new mom friends. Whether you two hit it off at a breastfeeding support group or just while jiggling your strollers next to each other in line at Starbucks, you bond fast when you've got an itty bitty baby in common.

Pretty soon, you'll each know details the other's birth, and nipple cream preference, and even aunt-in-law dramas. And then suddenly it'll dawn on you: I have no idea if this lady is also on maternity leave. Does she have a job she's going back to? Like a job outside of the home...which is probably the wrong way to put it because, as maternity leave has more than proven, a job inside the home is certainly a job too. And then there are moms who work from home....

So how do you get clarification on this issue without sounding like a jerk? 

My friend Francesca recently taught me the coolest move. Here's what you ask: 
"So, do you work really hard for a paycheck, or do you work really hard for no paycheck?"

Smooth, right? I adopted it immediately.