It’s really a simple question, but it’s one that confuses me, catches me off guard, and occasionally brings me to tears:
“What do you do for a living?”
Not that long ago, the answers were so simple: “I go to school at Michigan State,” “I coach swimming,” and “I teach ninth grade English.” It was all so cut and dry. Enter the birth of my daughter, and the answer has turned into a patchwork quilt of answers I attempt to organize every time someone asks me that dreaded question.
The answer to the question should be simple: I’m a stay-at-home mom.
However, there are layers upon psychological layers that prevent me from shouting from the rooftops, “I STAY HOME WITH MY KID ALL DAY!” I just do not wear this title proudly.
I like to keep my role as a mom at arm’s reach. If you were to see me in public without my child, you wouldn’t know I’m a mom. You will never see me sporting anything emblazoned with Mama Bear on it. I don’t bring up my kid in conversation unless someone asks. My car does not sport a stick figure family on the back windshield.
I’m not the mom who turns her life upside down to make her kids her whole world. I openly wrote about how I don’t experience mom guilt. Being a mom happens to be a part of who I am, not all of what I am.
Adulting isn’t a job
While I understand I am truly #blessed to be able to spend my days at home with my daughter, I struggle to nail down my identity to something that I don’t consider work or a hobby. There are two facets to this: the daily adulting portion and the taking care of my child portion.
First, very few of my childless millennial friends plaster memes on their social media about the woes of laundry and grocery shopping. My days are filled with these types of rinse-repeat activities. But ultimately, isn’t this just part of being an adult? People don’t include these things on their resume. Why do I have to plaster it on mine just because I stay at home to raise my daughter?
Secondly, a lot of what I do in a day is meeting my daughter’s needs for food, clothing, shelter, and love. There are fun things like playing at the park and going out for ice cream in the middle of the day, but it’s also a lot of butt wiping and crust cutting. My professional status of toy organizer is a deep dark secret I intend to keep.
I still work
I can’t own my stay-at-home mom status because I do still work. Actually, I have two jobs: I work for Detroit Mom, and I still coach swimming.
Both of these jobs keep me sane. My work with Detroit Mom allows me to be creative and to stay connected with other moms. Coaching and the sport of swimming have always been my passion, and I can’t imagine giving that up for anything.
Both of these jobs allow me to stay at home but also get out of the house to go to work. Even though it’s not a traditional nine-to-five, I have responsibilities that occasionally take me away from being a mom.
So, what do you do for a living?
I’ve spent four years trying to connect the dots to come up with an answer to this question. There are parts of me willing to embrace new identities and other parts struggling to part with old ones.
I may not ever be comfortable with the idea of being a stay-at-home mom. The idea what life will look like when she’s in school full time and my options open up again is a frequent thought.
Don’t get me wrong: I love being her go-to person for hugs and kisses. Spending my days watching her grow up have, for the most part, been wonderful. But being a mom is only part of what I do and who I am as a person. For now, I’ll enjoy the time I devote to staying at home with her, but I’ll relish in the time when I no longer have to mash Play Doh with my hands.