Stay-at-home moms unite in our struggle for legitimacy!
I was at a birthday party today for a friend’s daughter who turned 5. Most of the kids there were from her school class. To make matters a little more complicated, my friend’s family was there, and I hadn’t seen them in about fifteen years.
Three times I was asked, “So, what do you do now? Do you work?” (The last time they saw me I was still a senior in high school.)
I was somewhat at a loss of what to say. Where do I even begin to explain what I’m up to these days without a ton of background and explanation?
Plus, I really, really wasn’t in the mood to talk about homeschooling. I knew that once homeschooling became the topic, that’s all I’d talk about. And, to be honest, it was a little more than refreshing to be around a group of people that have no idea that I’m Ms. Homeschool Edumacator.
Then, when the question of “what do you do?” came up, I didn’t know what to say without saying homeschooling. I mean, I do a ton of things. I do what I want. And I love it. But, it’s not a job. And, the few jobs I do have going on right now are just a small part of the big picture.
“I’m a freelance writer and I’m writing a book,” I replied. My response was met with three unenthusiastic “oh”s. So I quickly added. “And I’m just a mom. “Just”, with quotes. Ha ha.”
No laughter. No smiles. Nothing.
It was weird. I didn’t know where to go with it without drudging up all the stuff I do. Essentially, my life cannot be summed up with one small group of words. I need many, many words to explain what I do. I need to know someone for a while before the scope and completeness of my life is obvious. (And I tend to gravitate towards others who are similar in that respect.)
Because I hadn’t seen these people in a while, I wanted to sum it up in a quick one-two sentence. But I couldn’t.
On the one hand, I was put off-guard—something that doesn’t happen very often. But, after thinking about it for a while, I came to the conclusion that this is a GOOD thing. This means I’m living my life true to my beliefs. True to myself.
I have said here at JE that to live a full and powerful life, it’s important to do what we love, and to spend our time in a way that makes the moments count, and create awesome memories. That’s what I’m doing. And that’s why it’s so hard to sum up my life in a few words. My life is complex, wonderful and full.
So I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to say the next time I meet someone and they ask me “What do you do?” I’m going to answer, “I manipulate words for fun and profit.” When they ask, “Do you have a job?” I’ll say, “No. I don’t have time for a job.”
I just wish that when I’m put on the spot, I could come up with these genius strokes of words. But I guess, that’s why I’m an writer and not an impromptu actor or radio personality.
Who do I have to impress anyway when I’m answering these questions? The only person who I really need to impress is myself. If I answer in a way that makes me happy, and is true to who I am, that’s what matters. (Of course, So long as I don’t hurt anyone else in the process.)
Now, next time I’m in a weirdo situation, hopefully I’ll remember all this, instead of going on auto-pilot and blurting out whatever my brain can muster. Got any ideas on how to deal with that? Fellow zenners perhaps? Or fellow amateur psychologists? Anyone BTDT?