The Western World seems to place such importance on identity. It’s not enough to just ‘be’ – we need to define ourselves somehow. When we meet someone new, it’s never long before one or other of us utters the words, “so, what do you do?”. We know that refers to our job, our career, our living. As though this is the only thing that defines us and gives us status.
This time last year I would have answered with, “oh, I’m a childcare professional,” or words to that effect. In my career I’ve managed nurseries and a preschool. I have a relevant, sector-specific degree. I’ve had training in all sorts of subjects such as high-level child protection and safeguarding, first aid and health and safety. I was proud of my achievements, my status, my worth to the children and families I have cared for over the years.
Then, last autumn, I gave it all up. A combination of ill health, my children needing me to be around more and a falling out of love with the job led me to make one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make: I stopped going out to work.
Overnight, I went from someone to no-one. At that point, if asked, my “what do you do?” answer would have been something along the lines of, “oh, I, erm… well, I don’t. Do anything, that it. I’m just a stay-at-home mum.” Which, of course, was utter rubbish. There’s no ‘just’ about being a stay-at-home mum. I’m a wife, mother, carer, cook, cleaner, taxi driver, financial manager, personal shopper, ironing lady, teacher… the list is almost endless. But no-one says that, do they? It’s all part and parcel of being a mum. There’s no status to it. Anyone can do that.
So, almost a year on, and things are starting to change again. I have been working hard to try to build up my blog (as well as It’s a Tink Thing), and have been fortunate enough to be offered some fab products and services to review and write about. Recently, I did my first paid ‘job’, (it didn’t feel like ”work’, more like having fun!), so now I’ve registered as self-employed and I’m hoping it’s the first of many such opportunities.
So, what should my answer be now to the “what do you do?” question? I’ve been paid to write, so ‘stay-at-home mum’ doesn’t seem right. But it’s only my first job, so ‘freelance writer’ seems too much. ‘Blogger’ is more accurate, but is it viewed as a career, a real job? Will it show up in the list when I renew my car insurance?
I’m not sure. The jury is still out on this one (at least until I get more paid work!). For now, all I know is that I love writing and I’ll keep doing it. It makes me happy.
That’s it! “What do you do?” “Oh, something that makes me happy!“
*Edited to add: A few hours after I wrote this post, I was actually asked this very question. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t reply “oh, something that makes me happy,” but instead I still ‘ummed’ and ‘ahhed’ and ended up with ‘blogger’. The guy I was talking to agreed that ‘blogger’ is a perfectly valid choice of descriptor in this day and age!