A few years ago, if someone asked me what my profession was, I’d blink, draw in a breath, smile a little, and then mutter something about being a mom and staying home full-time. I’d brace myself for a chirpy “Good for you! Most important job in the world!” and then I’d launch into a list of all the other things I do. I help out in the kids’ school twice a week. I run our church nursery. I go to the gym. I do this that and the other.
Current projects exhausted, the next question was Did you work before? There’s no good way to ask this question, yet people want to know. What did you do before you decided to do nothing? Like it or not, principles offended or not, I’d start in on my previous qualifications. I went to college and grad school. I worked in market research.
I always felt obliged to drive home the point that I wasn’t a two-dimensional June Cleaver, that I had other interests and skills. I used to work. In the business world. We had clients. Big ones.
When I started blogging I’d add that to my list of qualifications, as if an additional occupation earned me more space in the world. “I’m a writer,” I’d say. “I blog.” After twenty or thirty blank stares, I quit talking about blogging. Blogging doesn’t pay. It’s another questionable career choice. Non-bloggers don’t understand. The worst? I am incapable of explaining it tidily, which makes conversations complicated.
I write for my own website, and on occasion I write for other websites or review books or products, and I was published in a book once, and there are writing and blogging conferences, and… oh, no, I don’t mind if you take that call.
After enough years of practice reciting my worth, I got tired of it. Nobody really cares; it’s just small talk, after all. These days I settle for “I’m a mom” or “I stay home” as the response to the job question. I took notes from a fellow mom and sometimes I say “I never really wanted my own career – I spend my time taking care of my family.” I simply don’t care about the implications anymore; it’s freeing to know that you don’t have to explain yourself. Everyone knows what a mom is. Everyone wants to stay home, even if they say “Oh, I could never stay home!” Even if they think that I’m wasting my life.
I feel a little foolish that it took so long for me to accept this. It’s no big deal, after all. No bigger than someone saying they’re a teacher or a vice president or an interior designer. Dyed-in-the-wool moms, those who knew at age five that they wanted nothing else but to raise children – they don’t have these feelings. I’m jealous of their self-assuredness. They were always sure of their qualifications, of their positions. They made a choice and never looked back. I wasn’t blessed with that kind of confidence.
All those years – I was making a big deal out of nothing. I’m a mom: the greatest job in the world, says everybody as they look around the room for someone else to talk to. I almost let them convince me that my life would have been better spent had I done something else.