Monday, March 16, 2015

Qualified

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.

Almost.




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8 comments:

  1. Yep. I could have written this. I know exactly how you feel and I, too am done justifying or feeling guilty or "reciting my worth." Because, you are right, no one really cares. Maybe I was the one I had to convince all along.

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    1. Shannon - thank you for saying that! What is wrong with us, anyway? ;)

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  2. OH Andrea! This is perfect, especially this: "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."

    Thank you for making me feel better about my chosen profession. xo

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    1. You're welcome, Elaine, anytime. I am a stay-at-home parent pusher. :)

      Thank you for the kind words. I'm so glad to have you as my comrade in this thing we're doing. xoxo

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  3. I love this. I too am always interested in what people did before they became stay at home parents. Mainly because I think it is interesting and I try to see if it speaks to their personality. It was a no brainer for me to quit my job. It wasn't a career for me, I had been wanting to leave, and I couldn't send my preemie twins to daycare even if I had wanted to OR could afford it. But I still think it's fun to find out about people's former lives.

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    1. Thank you, Leigh Ann! I like to hear stories about people's "previous lives" too - it's interesting to me what paths a person has taken to get to where they are now. It's hard to not feel as though you are being condescending when you ask what else a stay-at-home parent has done. I don't ask a teacher if she did anything else before becoming a teacher, you know?

      I *might* be a tad sensitive about it. ;)

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  4. I made my stay-at-home choice before we had kids. I just knew that I couldn't have it any other way, and I've never apologized for it. Is it self-assuredness? I don't know. But I've learned during my working life not to care what other people think. I'm glad you're at a place where you're comfortable with your role and who you are. Look at the wonderful people you're raising - so much to be proud of.

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    1. Thank you, Alison! I envy you in your self-assuredness - having a firm sense of who you are and what you are doing saves a lot of time and confusion. It takes me a while to come around to most things.

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