An Update On Answering "What Do You Do?"
We were meeting a few new people the other day and I observed quietly as the young woman, my age and in a similar life stage, skirted asking me questions. She asked my husband no less than twenty questions about his business and stuck to basic pleasantries with me. I did this funny thing where I overcompensated by asking her a million thinking it would incite a back and forth until I realized it wasn't happening. I brought it up to a group of close friends who mentioned that it likely came from a place of not wanting to make me uncomfortable.
About a year ago, I talked about all the mistakes I made when answering "What do you do" when I first dialed down work for motherhood. I was reminded to revisit it now.
It took about 18 months of the ebbs and flows in confidence until I felt 100% certain saying, "Right now I'm pretty focused on raising my son and I run a website for mothers." A friend asked if I'd feel as confident if I didn't have a side project and I wasn't immediately certain - the two are so entwined for me. And it's true that having something else keeps me feeling whole. But I think the same would go for if I was taking an online course in writing, helping my partner with his business, doing volunteer work or figuring out what comes next.
Having something else, no matter how big or small or financially lucrative, that keeps me plugged into rythyms outside of Bodie is absolutely core to how I personally show up as a parent and a partner but when it comes to answering the question that feels so loaded during times of transition, leaving it quite simply as "Right now, I'm focused on raising my kids" can stand alone happily.
I've tried both and the comments I get in return are affirming and positive. A lot of people take issue with the question itself and worry that it puts undue pressure on what we do for work but as our culture shifts slowly but surely to recognizing mothering is real, hard, valuable work, albeit unpaid, then the question becomes more straightforward at any stage as long as you feel confident in your choices, and where you are at this time in your life.
And for our friends and potential friends on the asking side, go ahead and please ask.
What's your experience with this? I'd love you to add your thoughts on this one below!