Monday, September 12, 2011

The Mom Job Title

My titles tend to lag behind my Major Life Events. When I married, it took me about a year to sign checks (remember those?) & introduce myself Smug Married-style as "Melissa (Married Name)". It took years working as a general counsel before I had the courage to claim that title & not merely refer to myself as an "attorney" when asked that quintessential American small talk question, "What do you do?"

Since fate has a sense of humor, I predicted one year ago - correctly, as it turns out - that I'd have a difficult time trading in that "general counsel" job title for "stay-at-home mom" one. I don't miss the actual job for one hot second, having always preferred the idea of being attorney to the reality of it. As I've nattered on endlessly about, I consider myself incredibly lucky to be staying home with my wee darling Master P. However, I'm ashamed to admit that, as I'd suspected, my ego misses how my old job gave "good dinner party".

Speaking of self-absorption, whatever did we narcissists do before the iPhone 4 2-way camera thingy?
I'm further chagrined to confess that, when asked the "What do you do?" stuff, this is what slips out:

- "I'm a retired lawyer" or, if pressed for further details,
- "I'm just a stay-at-home mom now."

Yes, the "just" sneaks in there somehow, though of course it isn't a "just" sort of job. I adore this job & have wanted the position since forever, so why do I choke a bit on the title? Is it the slightly glazed over look I get from the singletons & DINKs, men especially, when they hear of my apparently less glamorous reality? What's with my throwing the lawyer thing out there, and why do I need people to acknowledge that I once had a fancy job?

Whatever the motivation, I finally remembered to pause this weekend when greeted with the inevitable question & responded, "I'm a stay-at-home-mom", no "just" or further explanations included. Maybe like breaking in a new pair of shoes, this too will take a few uncomfortable moments before it fits. I proudly own both, so why not wear them as such?

Anyone else experience this title hang-up, or have I once again raised navel-gazing self-absorption to unheard of heights (lows)?


Leslie Rodgers said...

Well, you are well ahead of me. I am thinking about going back to law school and still want kids.

Amid Privilege said...

You just have to pick your crowd. If you are at work-related gatherings, everyone is in climbing the ladder, impressing the underlings mode, and they will glaze over at anyone not in the game. But if you hang out with moms, many of them will be jealous of your time at home. This time will pass. Either you'll have more kids, and people will be in awe of your organizational skills, or you will go back to work, and then you'll be back in the game.

Carly said...

I do this and I'm still employed. It's just, I traded a 90 hour a week PR gig for a 40 hour a week, lower paying, smaller titled marketing gig. So, I find myself saying, "I'm a former PR gal, but now I just........"

I blame American culture?

meggs0929 said...

Yes- and I wasn't even a fancy lawer.  But, my job title did make people react. 
But having been both a working mom and now a stay-at-home mom, I am (attempting) to be proud to say my NEW job title.  So many people crave what we have. 
Feel confindent in what you are doing right now.  Just because you aren't practicing, doesn't mean you don't have thought or opinion or experience in the matter. 
Now, you've got it all.

Lisa said...

Tell people you are a law professor, you are perceived as interesting and smart.  Tell people you are a sahm, you are not perceived as interesting and smart, that is for sure.  You are usually perceived as unintelligent and boring.  

Earlier this year I was listening to NPR, and there was an author speaking who had done a study about perceived competence.  The study had the obvious conclusions--if you are a heart surgeon, you are perceived as competent, etc, etc.  Guess where housewife came in?  Not dead last, no.  Surprisingly, housewives are ranked above the "the blind, the infirm, the elderly, the deaf and the retarded."  (That's a direct quote, don't flame me, that's the exact language quoted in the study.)  Someone should let my husband know that the incompetant one is the one handling all the money and is in charge of his kids.  

Of course you have a moment of "just a mom."  Society says you should be grateful to stay home, its the best job you've ever had! But society also says a monkey on crack could be a sahm and you should want more for yourself than taking care of other people.  Despite the lip service paid to being a mom (best job ever!), society places very little value on those who actually perform that job.  

I could rant for days on this subject.  But I too am guilty of "I'm just at home with the kids."  

Perfectly Imperfect said...

Absolutely. It's super hard to go from a career to staying home. It took a while for even me to get my head wrapped around exactly "what I do all day". And honestly? If pressed, I'm not sure how to answer that what do you do all day question. But.... you know that what you are doing, being a mother, is the hardest job ever. Own it girl. ;)

Erin Johnson Remotigue said...

"I don't miss the actual job for one hot second, having always preferred the idea of being attorney to the reality of it."
This. Oh, this. 

Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only one who felt this way. Although being a SAHM is so much more rewarding than even my best day as an attorney, it still feels so odd to admit this.

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