When I was a kid my play usually involved having some kind of a job. For example my Barbie’s had careers. Sure my Barbie dated Ken and GI Joe but it wasn’t like she was going to marry either of them. *
Brief aside – my friend Kelly’s Barbie was always having babies and then Kelly did at sixteen. Her brother who played Barbie’s with us moved to San Francisco after high school. I hope he found a dreamy Ken
I also briefly had a ‘play job’ in our neighborhood. I pretended to be Madge from the Palmolive commercials. I got my mom to buy green dish liquid, she wouldn’t shell out for the real thing, and I made appointments with the ladies on our block. I would have them soak their nails while I listened to their problems. It’s funny and distributing what a grown-up will tell a five-year-old impersonating a confidante.
I put an ad in our local paper at fifteen offering to do ‘odd-jobs’. Along with real employment I got several ‘odd job’ offers. (Think teenagers and Facebook for the 1970’s)
Since I was eighteen I have worked non-stop. After graduate school my jobs were all consuming. I have changed careers – social worker, documentary videographer and film festival director. Each time seeking greater fulfillment.
Work defined me. My entire identity was what I did for work. Let me explain in one more redundant way – I was my work.
So right now it sort of sucks that currently I do not have a job. (For more on that read The Reluctant Housewife.)
Who am I? I am totally not eff’ing joking. WHO AM I NOW?
It doesn’t help that’s the first thing anyone asks you. “What do you do?” (Let’s stop asking that, OK.)
In my head I think, “You know, stuff.”
But, what I do instead is laugh self-consciously and say, “Oh, I don’t work…right now.”
Maybe what I should say is, “I avoid cleaning and write a lot.”
Don’t get me wrong. I am trying to find work. In the past I would see a job I wanted and apply and get it. That’s not me this minute.
Who am I?
To be honest I have gleaned some insight. It goes like this – since not working I think I have become a better parent which isn’t the same thing as being a better mother. I am not chalking this whole thing up to some post-feminist object lesson. I think a Dude could go through this same experience in a similar way. And, I am not saying parents who work are worse. I am saying I was overly focused on one part of my life and maybe to my determent. (It’s really annoying trying to figure out what is going to piss you people off. I know it doesn’t seem like I worry about that kind of thing but I do.)
Before between working and essentially being Thor’s case manager with regards to school, therapies, doctors appointments and fighting with a bunch of professionals about what is ‘best for Thorin’ I missed out on this other part of our relationship.
The part of a relationship only accessed through more time with someone. I am not so overwhelmed now. I can just hang out with Thorin. I can be relaxed with him. At ease.
I might be becoming a better me as well. (Hello, Jill Clayburgh in any movie in the 1980’s!) I am becoming allergic to drama and intensity. I am seeking balance. Life is short.
What do Thor and I do? We visit my mom (aka Bubba). We hang. We go on walks. We go to the park. The library. We play Temple Run. We watch Woody Allen movies. (The ones before he married his step-daughter. I watch the ones after the marriage alone.)
Thorin has taken an interest in cleaning. He is very good at it. Strangely I can teach housework.
Recently he and I were in the car waiting for Ward outside of his work. We were laughing and singing along to Girl from the North Country (Nashville Skyline version with Bob and Johnny.) Ward told me, “I’m jealous. You two seem to have so much fun together.” My mother told me the same thing. She also said, “You will always be grateful for this time. Always.”
I emailed a friend this today:
I love being with Thor in a different way. I am figuring out things about him I would not have been able to being consumed with work. I realize there is an endless depth in our love for our children. It just expands unbelievably.
Who am I? I am Thor’s mother. I think that might be it. I don’t want to say he is my job because that implies he is work. He is more like my vocation.
*This Barbie didn’t meet Ward until she was forty-three and married at forty-seven and got a kid at forty-eight.