Monday, October 24, 2011

The "When Are You Going Back to Work?" Question

Mondays and difficult questions go together like . . . well, absolutely nothing, actually. I apologize for mentioning the two here, but small talk events of this past weekend make this unholy mash-up necessary.

Stay-at-home-moms have heard two questions since the beginning of time (or was it the latest Karda*shian reality show, I always get those two mixed up) . . . er, (1) "What do you *DO* all day?" and (2), in my more recent small talk experience, "When are you going back to work?"

I've grown accustomed to answering Question #1, but I admit something about the "When are you going back to work?" phrasing still throws me every time. This will come as a complete surprise to y'all, but my first instinct whenever asked could best be described as acerbic, "And what exactly about raising a squirmy, snotty, 16-month-old boy terror doesn't sound like work to you?" I realize that my questioners probably aren't implying that I sit around all day watching soap operas doing nothing - though if given the chance, I'd wager my shoe collection that both I and the questioner would apply for that job - but the question rankles at first nonetheless.

Once I pause to dismount my Smug Mummy High Horse, my second instinct is to answer with a partial truth, "I haven't decided what I want to do when I grow up yet; I'm happy at home for now." If we're being honest, I'm doing *exactly* what I've always dreamed of doing in raising a family full-time, but that answer seems to baffle many. Surely I'm just on a break from being the high-powered lawyer they seem to imagine I once was (hint: I wasn't)? And if I'm not, what do I DO all day? *see Question #1 above* *hits head on keyboard*

Truth is, I'm ok not knowing what the future holds for me profession-wise. I'm lucky enough to be staying home with Master P, and that is enough for now - what I find puzzling is that it isn't enough for some others. If my circumstances change and I need or want to go back to work, I'll reevaluate then. I recognize that by stepping out of the workplace for a time I may be limiting those options, but that's a risk outweighed in my mind by the benefits of staying home with this . . .

Photo credit to my fabulous Mommy Mafia friend & talented photographer, Ziem Photography.
. . . whenever I try to explain all of that at parties, however, I inevitably lose my audience. Apparently my self-righteous speeches do not improve after a few glasses of red & a cheese plate - who knew?!?

So, darlings, please forgive me if we meet at a party and my vision clouds for a minute should we get into the "When are you going back to work?" line of talk. It's taking me a bit to learn the jargon in this new line of work - yes, I'm stubbornly insisting we call it work - of mine, but I'm hoping I'll get it figured out by the time Master P enters PrincetoDartmoutYaleFord, ie, the University of No Pressure.

19 comments:

Belle on Heels said...

le squeal!! such a cute pic :)

ms. mindless said...

People do get awfully judgy when it comes to the SAHM v. Working Mom debate, don't they? Do what makes you happy and what is right for your family and ignore the rest. Also, they are probably just jealous because you look much better while doing it than they do :)

Legally Fabulous said...

love that pic!!!

a. said...

Great picture!!! That says Christmas Card all over it.

undomestic chica said...

I would KILL to be a SAHM. In my opinion, it seems harder because you don't get a break, most often you have to seek out adult interaction, etc. I don't think I could stop myself from giving people the death stare if I was a SAHM and they asked me.

Rhiannon said...

Oh, why are people so nosy? I get the "are you going back to work?" question from all the old ladies in my husband's family all the time. And, then the look of judgement when I say, "That's the plan!"

(also, darling photo!)

Jess said...

No need to explain yourself. In my opinion beign a SAHM is the best git you can give your children. I had the joy of staying home with my child for 3 years... life did not play out the way I wanted to so I HAD to go back to work. It was the hardest thing I ever did.

Carly Anne said...

Again, I am glad that you are addressing the topics I fear having to confront when I have offspring.

And, damn, that baby is getting cuter by the minute. It's probably because you stay home...

Cari said...

I don't know why people have to ask most of the questions that they ask.

I get "when will you have kids", "is your career more important to you" blah, blah, blah.

To each his/her own people!

Lauren said...

My baby is 2 months old, and I've already been getting that question for months!

Jen said...

I'm *guessing* that maybe people are just trying to make conversation???

I would laugh and say, "I plan to stay home with my little man as long as I can.' Who cares what people may think if you are happy with your decision.

I'm a teacher. Kindergarten. I don't know what it is like at other jobs. Long lunches and coffee breaks??? Uh, not in my world. Unless one has a nanny who arrives at the home early in the morning, takes over so you can get ready and leave for work w/o kids, and you arrive to dinner on the table by said nanny/housekeeper, being home is a dream.

When my little one was, well, little, I job-shared, meaning I was home half the week. Those days, with play dates, park trips, and naptimes to have some break were GLORIOUS. I hope I never forget that special time in my life bonding with my wonderful girl.

Since being back at work full-time, hauling my a%$ out of bed early, getting everyone ready, working all day teaching five year olds how to read, write, and solve problems, then turning around and coming home to cooking, housecleaning, and my whole second shift....well, as much as I love my job, if I had the option to stay home I'd laugh giddily to everyone. Suckers!

Ziem said...

More importantly - when did we get 16-month-old babies?

Pearl McPride said...

new to your blog, love it. The banner/tagline is genius

Samma said...

Ha, as a pregnant lady-lawyer in Knoxville I get asked constantly "Well, what are you going to do about work?", in a very concerned tone. Um, go back? Have to help pay the mortgage people! This is usually met by a sad sympathetic smile. There is no winning!

The Shabby Princess said...

Darling picture! Raising a family is work, and if that is what you have always wanted to do and you are happy, well then, everyone else can eff off. But, that doesn't seem to be how it works, huh?

jcristg said...

love the picture!
as for the rest of it, people are going to have a dissenting opinion regardless of your choice. i say, do what works for you and your family and let the haters hate.

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

I am usually asked "aren't you bored being at home all day?"
Um, no. Because the short people don't take care of themselves.

There are no right answers, you just gotta do what makes you happy and ignore judgmental idiots.

The Preppy Princess said...

I never cease to be amazed by the questions people ask, and send the Smug Mummy a hug from the Hinterlands. It must be some of the same people who look at me in amazement and ask a similar question about leaving the (it-wasn't-all-that-fab-nor-glam) world of teewee. It can be *very* hard to shrug it off, I know, thus the Hinterlands hug.

On an up note, that photo is too wonderful, Master P is looking like one happy child indeed, and what better credit to your FT SAHM job is there than that?!
tp

Perfectly Imperfect said...

love this picture!! you so remind me of renee z (not even trying to spell it) in this picture.

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