There’s a question people ask in polite, small talk conversation. It’s just an innocuous conversation starter. There really is only so much one can say about the weather when cornered at a party, drink in hand, with nowhere to go. The inevitable question always comes up. When I am confronted with THE question, as a stay at home mom, I am left sputtering, deer in headlights, with nothing to say, when someone asks me THE dreaded question: “what do you DO for a living”?
Sure, I’m being spazzy and giving this question more weight than it deserves. I could easily say: “I’m a stay at home mom” then segue into a charming and funny story of the escapades of my small child or shock them with a good one of my teenage son ( the one about my darling son being on his third car in six months because he has written off his first two ) . But, oh no, I stammer and cough, frantically searching for something interesting to say because now I’m stuck on what do I DO for a living.
Can’t you ask me if I’ve read anything good lately? Food, Politics, religion, Micheal Jackson, Brangelina . . . . Bring it on let’s talk but please, please, PLEASE don’t ask me what I DO for a living.
I can tell you what I’ve done in the past but the list is too long and how do I begin and where do I end? Textile factory worker, waitress, short order cook, receptionist, personal assistant, retail, if it has a pink collar I’ve done it. I’ve been fired, (3 times) laid off (once) quit (once or twice). That’s another blog post . . . but here’s my point: Don’t ask me what I DO because I’m a stay at home mom and I don’t have a paid career of any kind. I’m not on Maternity leave from anything but my sanity (at times) and I can’t tell you what I did (paid work) in my former (work) life because I’ve been somebody's full time mom – with some paid jobs in between - since I was 19.
I know you don’t know I’m imploding when you ask me. It’s just an innocent question to start a conversation but understand that when you ask you bring up all my insecurities of my life spent less time doing paid work than not. The question of DOING something for a paycheque is a polite conversation starter, a nice appy dipped in lemon aioli, I know. You don’t mean to hammer me over the head with that question. It’s not like you will say something like: “You better have a job to tell me about or I will walk away and not like you anymore”
. . . or you might one can never tell.
I was at a party the other night. A nice, civilised cocktail party. There was delicious food, drink and lot’s of grown ups talking about interesting things, which I have to say, got a lot more interesting when the Tequila came out. Anyway, Here’s what I did when I was asked ‘The question’ by this lovely woman: I sputtered ( as usual), fumbling for words. I started quoting the above list of my pink collar jobs while gulping down my martini, stuffing the shrimp cocktail in my mouth so she (the interrogator) couldn’t understand what I was saying. Then I started a fake coughing and choking fit; I made a motion for “water” frantically pointing away to the kitchen while spitting shrimp onto her pretty dress like some sort of raving lunatic as I walked/ran away – bullet avoided.
For future reference, if you see me at a social gathering please keep to the weather, celebrity gossip and baby poop because that’s all my fragile mama ego can handle right now. Thank you.