You know those forms that ask for personal information? Not just the basic info, but household income, employment status, AGE. About four years ago, those forms started irritating me. Not because of the age question, although I never like aging into a new bracket, but because of the employment questions. Also the family income question, but that one’s related to the employment question.
When I’m not writing or working at my part-time job, my job title is “mom.” Four years ago, I quit my full-time job and gave up my nice salary for a better job that pays zero dollars. Some people call me a homemaker, a stay-at-home mom, a housewife, or unemployed, but none of these really fit. I know some women who list “domestic engineer” as their job title, but that sounds as ridiculous to me as “just a mom” sounds to many mothers. I truly don’t mind being called “just a mom” but like “domestic engineer” it doesn’t quite capture the spirit or the actual responsibilities of my job. Let’s break down the options.
This one makes me laugh. Not only does it sounds like I should be wearing an apron and pearls, but to me “making a home” is a team effort. In our family, The Doctor is as much of a “homemaker” as I am. There would be no home to make if he didn’t pay the mortgage. Our kids actually do more “home breaking” than “home making” but they provide the essential energy that makes our home uniquely ours, therefore they deserve as much credit as the grown-ups. Alas, this is usually the best option for me in a check the box situation. Let’s make some homes, bitches!
This one is funny, too, but the most commonly used. As a stay at home mom, know what I do very little of? Staying at home. And I probably stay at home more than other SAHMs. I love being at home, and actually prefer it to most things, but being at home all the time make for a boring (and unhealthy) lifestyle. There is fun to be had out there in the world….parks and libraries and play dates. Also, my kids would drive me completely nutty if we were at home all of the time.
This one gives me the heebie jeebies. I picture the woman in pearls and an apron again, but this time she’s not allowed to leave the house. I understand that this is not the definition of “housewife” but I can’t help the image it presents, and you will never hear me call myself a housewife. That is, unless The Doctor picks up an additional wife, and my duties are strictly confined to the house. “The outside wife will have to take the kids to that party at Chuck E Cheese. I gots to stay in this house!”
I’m not. Even if I didn’t have a teeny tiny job, I wouldn’t consider myself unemployed unless I was looking for work. Out of the workforce, yes. Unemployed, no.
My problem with these job descriptions is that they are terrible at describing my job. Even more problematic, I don’t know how to tell people what I do. Some days I don’t sit down unless I’m in the car. Other days I get to nap. We play. A lot. We see friends, we do fun stuff. I do housework, I read and color with the kids, I make cookies, run errands, talk to family members from back home on the phone or Skype. I exercise and walk the dog. I blog. But here’s the thing: If I was working full-time, I’d still be doing almost all of these things. Probably not the naps. Or the exercise. I don’t feel the need to explain, but sometimes people ask. It doesn’t bother me. I wouldn’t have been offended if someone was curious about my daily responsibilities when I was a retail manager, so why would I feel that way now? If people ask what we do all day, I usually say “Whatever we want.” Generally, most folks think I’m much more busy or much more lazy than I actually am.
I’m glad I get to do what I do. I’m also glad not everyone makes the same choice. There are important jobs in our society, and there are mothers and fathers who are amazing at their jobs. There are parents who wouldn’t enjoy my typical day, and there are child care providers who do a fantastic job of nurturing children while those kids’ parents contribute important skills to the workforce.
How do you describe your job situation? Since I can’t come up with a better title, I used the job title generator from Bullshit Job and now consider myself a Human Identity Director.