speak for yourself
Ever since I quit my full time job (when child #3 was born), I’ve had trouble answering that common question:
What do you do?
For an embarassingly long time I would answer some variation of “I’m a stay home mom, but I used to do something important. . . ” (well, not exactly that, but it crossed my mind). Yes, I know being a full time mother is important — that’s why I made the choice to become one — but I felt like there was so much more to me than the stereotype of “stay home mom.” Besides that, I hardly ever was at home.
I’m still a (hardly ever) stay home mom, but I also teach parent workshops, I tutor, I spend lots of time writing (even if it’s online, not on paper), I volunteer here and there, and I am interested in all kinds of things. I’m not comfortable picking one label that defines me. I’m multifaceted. Aren’t we all?
Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira offers a great solution in Mama’s Got a Fake ID: How to Reveal the Real You Behind All that Mom:
I’m a mom and _____________.
She suggests we think of one thing we’d like people to know about us and pair it with the awesome job of being a mom. Some examples:
- I’m a mom and a gardener.
- I’m a mom and a lawyer.
- I’m a mom and a preschool volunteer.
- I’m a mom and a runner.
Or, go with active verbs and say:
- I raise kids and raise horses (dogs? gerbils?).
- I write, volunteer at school and take care of my family.
- I drive around in circles enriching my children (okay, maybe not impressive, but accurate!)
Somehow the active method is easier for me. I don’t have to wonder, “Is it okay to call myself a writer?” when I’m perfectly comfortable saying that I write, because I do. I guess that does make me a writer, but that’s another conversation.
The mom and ____ phrasing serves as a conversation opener. It connects being a mom with other passions and important parts of me. It also provides a more accurate, natural and broader picture what a mom does and who I am. So here’s the line I might use next time I get that question:
I take care of my family and write about my adventures.
And help parents communicate better. And tutor for the ACT. And volunteer. And run around in circles, sometimes. Okay, I’ve got some focusing work to do!
How do you answer that dreaded question: What do you do?
Read more of my reflections on the Mama’s ID book here.