The answer to this question changes depending on the context the question is asked in. Sometimes it will be an old school friend wanting to find out what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years. Sometimes it’s my husband’s work colleague. Sometimes it’s the lady on the bus.To say I have a lot of hats is an understatement. I think any mother has a lot of hats – and a lot of things to take care of. I have my Mummy Hat, which deals with things like immunisations, nutrition and if it is basketball tonight. I have my Housewife Hat (which I don’t believe is a derogatory term, and I’m proud to be a housewife). This hat deals with whether there is food in the cupboard, if the plants need watering, if there is a shirt for my husband to wear or if the toilet can go another day before I have to clean it. I also have my Family Hat, which deals with the extended family’s birthdays, checks up on sick parents and tries to work out if it’s been one month or two since I’ve heard from my brother.
It’s true to say I juggle my responsibilities.
So today, at the school gate as I was waiting to pick up my child, I was chatting with another mum and she asked, “What do you do?” I knew what she was asking. So I answered honestly, although dishonestly, “I work from home.”
What she was really asking me, was if ever I needed to get a family member to pick up my kindy child in the middle of the day on the half-day per week our children have? She’d just finished explaining to me that she was studying and working, so her husband usually did the school run.
The problem with answering the question of “What do you do?” honestly, is it can open a can of worms, because people hear a different answer. So I thought (for fun) I would give you a rundown of my standard “What do you do?” responses, and how people mishear.
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What do you do?
Me: I’m a stay-at-home mother.
What they hear: I sit at home all day, drink coffee, watch soapies and bludge off the government.
Me: I’m a housewife.
What they hear: I’m a downtrodden woman with no education.
Me: I’m a mummy.
What they hear: I smother my children with love and I live off my husband’s salary.
Me: I’m a working mother.
What they hear: My children are raised in daycare while I continue my career.
Me: I work from home.
What they hear: I do nothing at home all day and shop a lot.
Me: I’m an author.
What they hear: I’m unemployed.
Me: I write books.
What they hear: I would love to publish a book.
Me: I’m an author, I write romance.
What they hear: I dabble with unimportant fiction that only other uneducated housewives read.
Me: I’m an author, I write fiction.
What they hear: My husband is rich, so I pretend to write books.
Me: I’m an author, I write gay romance.
What they hear: I write porn.
Me: I don’t do anything.
What they hear: I’m a pathetic liar.
Which one is most important? It depends on the time of day you ask me. Five minutes before my husband gets home, the Housewife Hat is the most important as I try to make it look like I haven’t been at home all day, drinking coffee and watching soapies. **wink**