Have you ever been asked that question and had no idea how to answer? Although I've been doing the same things for years, I still don't know the answer. I think I've written about it before (here on my blog or maybe it was in a craft group I joined years ago)... something about an identity crisis of sorts. In a way, I didn't want to blog this, but I've thought about it often and decided that maybe by sharing my thoughts and feelings about it, if others felt the same, and read this, they would realize they weren't alone.
So... here you go....
Last year when I went to the doctor (I think it was when 3 out of 4 in the family had the flu), he was asking about the family. He knew us through my husband's work, but we had recently switched to him as a family doctor so he was catching up on everyone. He already knew my husband was a carpenter and I proceeded to tell him our oldest son was a paramedic and our youngest son was in college. My daughter was with me (they took us in at the same time since both of us were sick) and she told him she was a hair stylist.
Then the doctor turned back to me and asked .. "and what do you do?"
When he asked me that question, I didn't know what to say. I thought a minute as I struggled to come up with an answer that sounded important, but I was blank. I think I hum-hawed around and finally stuttered something about staying at home and making dolls, jewelry, doing needlework, and painting. "Oh great," I thought, "that really sounds impressive! He'll be referring me to someone to be treated for multiple personalities!" I think he said something like, "Hmm, that's nice." He certainly didn't seem impressed, or maybe he felt sorry for me when he saw how embarrassed I was.
I could have proudly said I've been a wife and mom for 20 something years, but I felt guilty about being just
a wife and mom. In this day and age, lots of wives and moms work outside the home... why didn't I? I did work as a CNA and a PTA (over 20 years ago), after that I subbed part-time at an elementary school while my kids were there, and later (and to the present) I worked from home... as an artist / crafter / designer, etc.
When I faced that question, I felt that I was completely inadequate, totally useless, and a failure.
know I am not those things.
I know that.
"...for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." (Psalm 139:14)
But I have to keep telling myself
because there are times when that question,
"...and what do YOU do?",
pops back in my head and I
have to wrestle with it.
And it hurts every. single. time.
I went home and cried, and cried, and cried some more. I didn't tell my husband what had happened at first, but that evening I just asked him, "What do you tell your friends and the people you work for what it is that I do?" His answer (obviously without thinking), "Well, nobody ever asks."
Silence, I didn't know what to say, but I thought.... "so now I'm an invisible nobody, not even a wife and mom!"...and then I went in the bathroom and cried again. I think I cried again the next day, too. Big-time pity party!
Why do some stay at home parents or work at home artists have such a hard time saying what they are or what they do?
Why do most people think you don't really work or have a job if you stay at home?
Why does this bother me so much?
I don't have the answers.
I'm sure this will be out of my system for a while... but then it will creep back in and I'll re-hash it all over again. Maybe I can come back to this post and read what I've written and what you have written, and something will finally click and I can better understand what's going on.
I do know that God blessed me with a wonderful husband that wanted me to stay home with our children, as I wanted to do, and later when the kids were older, he was fine with me staying home to follow my dreams of being a creative soul. He even helped me (or I helped him since he did most of the work) transform our garage into a huge workroom for me to follow my dreams. I think I am doing what I'm meant to do at this point in my life... or at least I'm on my way to doing it. I just need to believe in that and move forward.
I'd like to be like the wife in Proverbs:
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
But if I fail at some or even all of these, perhaps God will still see fit to bless and "establish the work of my hands" in some small way...
"And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it." Psalm 90:17
Please share any thoughts in the comments section or feel free to email me
if you prefer. Not that I want you to feel as insecure as I do at times, but I would like to know there are others out there that feel the same.
Take care and God bless,