August 23, 2008


I hate meeting new people or catching up with old acquaintances. It's the worst aspect of coming home for a visit.

I, she states emphatically, am not enterprising. My shame is that I would've made a terrible pioneer and probably would've never crossed the Atlantic for the New World. I don't like adventure, and I'm not the least bit entrepreneurial.

I am a born follower.

When our future children start school, I will get a job. Not a career, a job. I have no interest in a career whatsoever. I fancy myself a sort of Renaissance Lady who likes learning new things for the sake of learning, but I am not ambitious. I went to grad school merely to kill time while my husband finished school. I liked school and was good at it, but I can't imagine myself in any sort of career.

I say all of this to set the stage for the question I hate most: "So, what do you do?"

I don't do anything. I don't know how to answer that. I do a monkey's job two weekends a month. I don't make money. I have no job to speak of.

I was voted Most Likely To Be President by my graduating class. I have no idea why. I am certain I am a disappointment to them.

But I am fine with my life. My husband likes me the way I am, though I am sure he will enjoy the extra money once I get a job. I have no regrets at all about where I am in life. (Except if I'd known it would take more than two years to have a baby, I would've gotten some sort of job at this duty station.)

But any time I get the "What do you do?" question, I feel like I need to explain all of this. I feel like I need to prove I'm not a bum. Or I have to explain the two dead babies, so at least I have an excuse for not working.

Yesterday we ran into the mom of a kid I went to school with. "So, what do you do?" I fake laughed and said, "My husband is in the Army, so I follow him around for a living." She looked disappointed. "I just remember you were so successful in school."


I'm just typing this to get it off my chest. I hate that question. I hate not having an answer to it. I hate the look people give me when I don't have an answer for them.

Sometimes I answer "I'm a trophy wife" if I think I can get away with it.

I hate how the question makes me feel inadequate when really I am happy with my life. I shouldn't let it bother me, but it does.

I just need to hurry up and have a kid so I have an excuse for staying at home.

Posted by Sarah at August 23, 2008 06:15 PM | TrackBack

Maybe you get get some pieces published, and announce you are a freelance journalist :-)

Posted by: BobWang at August 23, 2008 07:10 PM

My idea is similar to Bob's. "I'm a writer" To the inevitable follow-ups the answer's are "A columnist for Spouse Buzz and contributing author to The Blog of War" and "I'm still working the first full between duties as a trophy wife."

Posted by: Tim at August 23, 2008 07:56 PM

You could always say you are an independent world traveler or self published writer. Both sound good to me. :)

Posted by: Reasa at August 23, 2008 08:23 PM

I took a lot of crap about my post on why people with post graduate degrees should work and not stay home.

But really in the end, it's no one elses damm business. Make up something funny and move on.

I feel the same way when people ask me when I'm going to start popping out babies. The answer 'never' just invites questions and ridicule.

You're smart and nice, which is why people expect you to be doing something fabulous. Tell them you're a writer. It's true, you are published in the "Blog of War" and it will shut them up.

Posted by: Mare at August 23, 2008 08:33 PM

I hate to tell you this, but a lot of people do not thinking staying at home with children is work, or valuable either...

I get a lot of "what do you do?" For the last 7 years. When i tell them I am a SAHM, I get a few responses...

my favorite is "Really? I could never do that, I need to feel as though I accomplished something."


so just a warning, I would use tim's "I am a freelance writer"...

Posted by: AWTM at August 23, 2008 08:52 PM

Don't rule out teaching. They need teachers who aren't fresh out of high school to college to classroom... especially ones who can write! Military families tend to think of the next generation(teaching), there are programs for vets and I believe spouses to get their credentials. When you have school-aged kids, you share the same or similar break schedules. You can sub, teach part time, especially in some of the alternate schools, choose between themed schools (performing arts, science magnet, career & technology, etc.). My first job was at an independent study k-12 career prep. school. You met once a week with your students, checking their progress and assigning new work. You could take on a few students, or up to 25. I stayed at 5 or less, because I wanted to and did spend more time (unpaid) with each than just the hour given. It also makes you much more aware of the biases that may be presented as facts, and where some extra primary source material (beyond the internet, that might include visits to national and state monuments & parks/historical sites, libraries, etc)for your own children some day. I never intended to get a credential, but did after retiring and homeschooling our dyslexic son for 2 years. I have taught part time, subbed, taught technology, and done long term subbing for teachers who have gone out on maternity leave. I especially love subbing in special ed. If you didn't mind the lower pay, you can be an aide where you don't have all the take home paperwork that the good teacher has to deal with. I'd never believed how much energy you can get from the kids in an elementary school until I got into it.

Posted by: HChambers at August 23, 2008 09:06 PM

I'm with AWTM, it doesn't stop when you have kids. I still get crap about it.

I was a total overachiever in school, so I get the question a lot when people see me again, too.

People also expect me to be depressed and downtrodden. When they start with the pity party, I usually break in with, "Oh, don't be sorry! I'm happier than you are!"

They still can't seem to understand that I don't envy them AT ALL. Nor do I think they need to have my life. But goodness, they do seem to think I need to have theirs!

Posted by: airforcewife at August 23, 2008 09:09 PM

Amen sister. I too have a "job." I took college with half ambitions that couldn't be realized. I would love to have the career of Multitakser or Crafty Jill. I can be a freelance Problem Solver! I'll come into your company, assess your problem, give you and answer and move on. I'd also like to do it on my time and not feel sorry because I don't want to wear fancy shoes or makeup or try to break a glass ceiling. Isn't silly that though we are decades past Mrs. Cleaver there are still such stigmatas over the sillies of things like how we define ourselves?

Posted by: Darla at August 23, 2008 09:50 PM

I just put something up about this recently. After I got my first 'what do you do?' question since little man was born. I felt totally lame and inadequate. It was my first instinct anyway. Darla shares my ideal 'real' job of Problem Solver. Life would be so sweet if that could be a career. But for now I am thinking of how I can not feel less than for being at home when people ask what it is I do.

Posted by: wifeunit at August 23, 2008 10:32 PM

Well people are just downright jerks if they don't understand how hard being a SAHM is. When my SIL's dad died and my brother had to take up alot of the slack my SIL said, now he'll see how hard it is. And I didn't argue. I don't have kids and I know how hard it is.

But part of the feminist movement also brought male expectations to the female realm.

I don't know how we got 'here' but it seems to me that we are our own worst enemy sometimes.

Posted by: Mare at August 23, 2008 11:26 PM

When I read your post before the comments, I thought, "just say you are a writer." You write a lot. And whether you are being paid shouldn't really matter.

I am beginning to get in this awkward position too. I think "I'm a trophy wife" is a great answer, but I have yet to use it.

Posted by: Butterfly Wife at August 24, 2008 10:37 AM

It's a ridiculous 'ideal' mindset people have and funny how whatever THEY are doing is ideal.

I went to law school because, at the time, I thought it was something I'd always wanted to do. Now, I can't find a damned job b/c it's just inconceivable to the powers that be that I, a former professor and current mom, could possibly have time to devote to such a job. Never mind I finished 3 years of school in 2, but whatever.

On the other side, you have those who think I'm a terrible mother for taking time away from my kids to do school and all that and then likely have a job in a profession that requires tons of time.

I've worked in one form or another since I was 12. I've never had only one job.

Frankly, I'm ENJOYING being unemployed right now.

People just have their ideas about what others should be doing b/c they are trying to make themselves feel better about what THEY are doing.

Whatever works for you is what works. You're a writer, a designer (look at all the knitted designs you do!), and an advocate for military families...those are the first 3 things that pop into my mind & I could certainly come up with an entire list!

People need to just mind their own businesses.

Posted by: Guard Wife at August 24, 2008 01:37 PM

Maybe you were voted "Most Likely To Be President" because you were extremely responsible,
compassionate, intelligent, and always going above and beyond. You were a good leader and you still are; the only difference is your interests have changed. I would say the things you do now make you more of a success or at least as much of a success as someone who has a career. You give and give and you've never been one to "toot your own horn." You have a wonderful life (loving husband, Charlie, a nice home, and most of all a caring spirit). That is true success! Don't ever underestimate yourself!

Your mama

Posted by: Nancy at August 24, 2008 02:33 PM

When your mama mentioned Charlie, I immediately thought of Animal Trainer. Specializing in dogs. If someone wants to use your talents, just tell them that your all booked up, you don't have to go into details. Rosie

Posted by: rimholz at August 24, 2008 05:33 PM

Late to this but...what is wrong with declaring right out that you are your husband's wife and a hopeful mother to be and quite happy?

I, too, have issues with the "what do you do" except it comes with the "where did you go to school" question.

But NEVER be ashamed of being a good wife and properly decent human being. You are one of a very few, m'dear. Admit it proudly.

Posted by: LauraB at August 29, 2008 06:00 PM

Like others have already said, it doesn't stop when you have kids. It's even worse when people find out that I have a law degree. Then I get the squinty look like "What's wrong with you?! Why are you at home when you could be working?" The worst part is that I usually get this from other women.

Posted by: MarineWife at August 31, 2008 03:24 PM