OK, so the journal finally has a proper name. “Ankle-bitten Authoring” was acting as a place holder while “Footloose and Freelance” was taken back to its desk with a filing box and a pink slip before being escorted off the premises.
Now, at long last, we have, Occupation: Mother which is, I think, close enough to sounding like a military operation to suit quite well.
It came to me yesterday when I was sitting in a new doctor’s office, filling out one of those insurance information forms. I was zipping along until I got to the line that read “Occupation”. Having been a stay-at-home writer for a while before I was a stay-at-home mother, I was used to pausing for a moment before thinking of the freelance cheques people had sent me and taking a deep breath and writing “Writer”.
Now, even four years into my new situation, and a good two years since anyone paid me to write, I couldn’t think what to write.
I have been trying to embrace the ‘housekeeping’ part of my role, as an essential part of looking after my family. But even with my new efforts in that direction, no-one could ever call me a housewife.
It crossed my mind to write “Occupation: None” since I don’t have an employer and I don’t file tax returns, and no-one is paying for my insurance cover except my husband’s employers. But there was no way in Hades, given my average heart-rate, the number of steps I take, the logistical challenges I have taken on (especially recently with our summer outings), and the amount of lifting and loading I do a day, that I was writing “none”. My fingers just wouldn’t do it.
Only after going through all this in my brain could I bring myself to write my first, hesitant, choice:
(But my new user pic is based on the way I illustrated the word on the form!)
People of my parents’ generation and before wouldn’t have thought twice about this (although they’d have probably gone for the slightly-less-accurate ‘housewife’). But it really gave me pause.
But I realised that there is no other job that you could convince me is more important for me to be doing now There is certainly no other job that would offer me more challenge. And the opportunities for learning and self-improvement are legion. (That’s what people say they want when asked about job satisfaction, right? Oh, that and ‘advancement’, which generally means an opportunity to boss people around and be in on the big decisions. Well, I’ve got that in spades. The only thing I’m missing is the big pay packet…)
So, Occupation: Mother.