The lovely Julie at The Sardine Tin recently wrote about the term, Working Mum and how she felt uncomfortable with this label, acknowledging that mothers who don’t have paid employment, still work.
I feel equally uncomfortable with the labels available to me. Stay at Home Mum seems wrong, as we rarely stay at home and presumably most mothers with paid jobs stay at home sometimes. Even worse is Full-Time Mum, as if mothers that have a paid job are not full-time, as far as I know they don’t stop being a Mother when they leave the house. I’m not a Housewife, but only because I’m not a wife, other than that I fit the definition, after all I am responsible for ‘running the house’, however both of these phrases sound like something from the 1950’s.
It has been five months since my maternity leave finished and I am still failing to come up with the right language to define myself.
Although, I wonder if it’s the terms that bother me or the reactions of shock and surprise that I receive when I tell people, that I’m not going back to work, for the foreseeable future.
I seem to have bumped into a few people from my previous job lately and after the usual chat about Mini Mck the conversation turns to my employment and goes something like this:
Them: “So, you’ve resigned from Gringotts then”
Me: “Oh, yes, ages ago, back in April”
Them “So, what will you do now”
Me “Oh….err….nothing, well I mean, not nothing, I’m going to do this” (vaguely gesturing towards Mini Mck)
Them “Oh well, I suppose when he’s a bit older you can get a job”
This is where I usually make my exit, wondering what the rush is to get a job and feeling that I’ve underplayed my new role somewhat.
I even had a reaction from the tax credits helpline, regarding my employment status. Having given them my earnings for 2008/2009, I was asked for my estimated earnings for this year and when I said “Nothing”, the woman paused and actually replied, “What, you’re not going to earn anything?”
Is it really so unusual to choose to give up paid employment to do something which is equally valuable and rewarding and yet unpaid? Or maybe their surprise is because it wasn’t a dead end, mindless Mcjob that I gave up, but a career with prospects, albeit a career I no longer enjoyed.
Whichever it is I need to come up with something to describe what I do. I am getting to the point where I may start describing myself as Mini Mck’s Childminder