Yesterday I was at a baby shower, and I mentioned that I was very tired (I have been having some minor health issues lately that cause a little bit of fatigue in the afternoons). I said, “Often at this time of day, I’ll be taking a nap.” The mother of the baby-haver wondered, understandably: “What kind of job do you have that allows you to nap every day?”
Here is what I answered WITHOUT THINKING: “I don’t work.”
Dafuq? I don’t work? I DON’T WORK?
The roomful of strangers I’d addressed just nodded and said “Oh!” because they are nice people who do not judge women on the basis of their career decisions (my baby-having colleague is a VERY nice person, so it was unsurprising that her friends and family are also very nice).
So, it’s not like I felt judged for “not working”–it’s just that THAT WAS A LIE. In fact, I have two jobs! I mean, what I think I meant was that I work at home. And, indeed, I corrected myself immediately after I snapped to. “I mean, I’m a freelance journalist. I work from home. I don’t have set work hours.” (This caused another bit of confusion later on, when, upon opening my classic baby gift of My First Kafka by Mathhue Roth, my friend said: “Rebecca also wrote a book on Kafka!” “Not this one,” I explained, “This one is much better.” To which her mom replied: “You wrote BOOK on KAFKA in your SPARE TIME?” I wish! Not exactly. “I used to be an academic,” I explained.)
At any rate, I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I got home, and I have no idea why I would a) want to perpetuate the idea that I don’t work, or b) think that the work I now do isn’t work (in fact, on many days I work considerably harder now than I did as a wannabe professor), or c) think that the work of a house-spouse or SAHM isn’t work (although in my case, since I don’t have any kids or pets, and you have to death-threaten me to do any cooking or cleaning, that is actually embarrassingly close to the truth).
At any rate, no huge insight here; I just thought it was funny that these days my immediate knee-jerk professional self-conception is that I don’t work. On some days, I see five clients directly in a row, and yet since I do so from the comfort of my home-office chaise, I guess it doesn’t count? I guess I’ve been writing for so long that even though I now get paid for it, it still doesn’t feel like a job (which is preposterous, because sometimes when I’m on deadline and there are a lot of pieces to put together and people to interview, it is a lot of work)? I have no idea.
NOW IF YOU’LL EXCUSE ME I MUST ABSCOND FORTHWITH BACK TO MY LIFE OF LEISURE. #NapTyme