What Do You Do?

Recently I’ve reconnected with several old friends. I love hearing about their lives — going to a circus workshop, working for the UN,  finishing a master degree, hiking in Colorado.  I can’t get enough of their Facebook pictures and status updates.  But here’s the problem: they want to know about my life too.  And I don’t have much to say.

Um, I took Zoey to the library. I waited out a 23 minutes tantrum in the bathroom. We had a mango for snack.  We read “Babar” — Did you know Babar married his cousin?! I can’t find Zoey’s pink bathing suit with the butterfly on the front.  I forgot to move the towels into the dryer and now they’re all smelly. I cleaned up spilled orange juice. Zoey thinks her vagina is called “this butt” — I’m working on changing that. Progress is slow.  I lost my meal planning sheet and now I have no idea what to have for dinner. I forgot to make a dentist appointment.  Again. Demetri and I are so tired at night we barely talk to each other. If I have to make one more grilled cheese I might die. I’d really like my child to learn to wipe her own butt. 

Of course, if our re-connection wasn’t so recent I could write paragraphs upon entertaining paragraphs about poo, pee, and boobies.  But I think I’ll have to ease my friends into that. As it is, I can feel our re-connection sputtering because all the sharing is one way. Sometimes I can’t even bring myself to write an email back because I know it will be boring — full of stuff that doesn’t matter, the mundane details of the life of a mother.

I have this same problem at Demetri’s work parties.  I am often asked the dreaded, “So what do you do?” If I say that I’m a SAHM, it pretty much ends the conversation.  Oh, there might be a joke about how I have “the hardest job”, but that’s about it. Lately, I have been telling people I’m a writer.  It feels slightly more self esteem building than stay-at-home-mom. At least until they ask me how many books I’ve published.

If our society was a little different, if we valued nurturing and children (you know, OUR FUTURE), conversations might go very differently:

So, what to you do?

I’m a mother.

Really??? Oh my god! That’s so amazing!

Oh, well, thanks.

Can I get you more wine? Another brownie? Anything? Anything at all?

I’m fine, thanks. What do you do?

Oh, I’m working on building a fleet of super-human robots. It doesn’t pay much, not like being a mother does.  But then again it’s nothing like what you do. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you it? How do you manage to be a good mother?

Well, you just kind of do your best and keep going. It helps to have multi-tasking skills and a strong stomach.

Wow. I mean, WOW. Hey! Hey, Bob! Come over here! I just met a mother!

I can’t blame it all on society.  I’m not quite comfortable with the title of SAHM either. I feel like I should be doing something . . . more.  Something that’s about me.  Not in a self-centered kind of way, but in a I -have-more-to-offer-than-wiping-butts kind of way. You know, something that would look good in the ‘Alumni Notes’ section of my high school magazine. Maybe I just need to tweak my current position a bit:

Joslyne is busy saving lives, being a super hero, creating a responsible and kind human being, and, on alternate Tuesdays, being the Queen Fairy Princess. Joslyne is revered by her minion (most of the time) and adored by all those who read her blog. She is also good at wiping butts – an underrated yet highly technical skill.

What about you? What do you say at parties? If you work beyond your parenting duties, do you include being a parent as part of what you do?



8 thoughts on “What Do You Do?

  1. Sara

    I have the same struggle, Jos…but here’s my mantra: my being a mother might mean nothing to most people, but it means everything to MY KIDS. Oh, and wiping butts is nothing to be poo-poo-ed (haha!!). And lastly, Sophie called her vagina her “front butt” until she was 6.

    I think you’re an awesome mom…and I know Zoey does too! Moms ROCK!

  2. Zozo's Mom

    Um . . . I feel bad admitting this, but I literally have never thought: It means everything to my kids. I guess I need to be more of a glass half full type. Thanks for sharing that — it’s definitely something I will carry with me.

    MOMS ROCK!!!!!

  3. Anne G

    I want to hear all the stuff you have to say which is of the genre of the words in italics above. And here’s why.
    1. I want to be doing all of that one day. All of it. Because I know (thanks to friends like you) that the difficult stuff and mundane stuff has got to go along with the good stuff when you are raising a child. And I really really hope one day to be raising a child. And so I want to hear about all of it. Every. Last. Detail. Because it may seem boring and routine to you. But it’s the life I dream about having one day. And I love living vicariously through you.
    2. This is your life. And you are important to me so therefore your life is important to me. Ere go, I want to hear about it. Whether it is child raising, writing, or whatever, your friends will want to hear about it just because it’s what is going on in your world.

    1. Zozo's Mom

      Trust me — you don’t want to hear about every last detail. Although you are a doctor so you would probably be able to handle it. 🙂 Thanks for your support! xoxo

  4. kate myers cotton

    Maybe you should go with the “I can’t tell you what I do because of the nature of my Top Security Clearance status”. You don’t have to mention whose security you are keeping or who issued the clearance. I once had medium security clearance (or maybe low, I forget now) and it was a great way to ward off any more specific questions.


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