Monday, February 19, 2007

The question of work

I talked to a friend on the phone yesterday who casually asked me what kind of work I wanted to do after I was "done" staying home with the girls. The answer is that I have no idea. I've been giving this question a lot of thought lately as I think about the possibility of Husband and I having one more baby. I'm not pregnant yet, but the years slip by so fast now--Bean will be 2 in April!--that it's been on my mind a lot. I feel like I'm already in the home stretch of the tough baby years.

I'm taking a ceramics class on Saturday afternoons now. It's something I've been idly interested in for years, starting back when I took a few ceramic sculpture classes in college. I'm really enjoying learning to throw bowls and cups and vases and the like on a wheel. I have fantasies of continuing with it, maybe eventually teaching little kids. I love to sew and have also enjoyed doing this off and on for years. I love to garden. I love to cook and bake, but I'm pretty sure that I don't want to go back to the professional kitchen.

The thing is maybe I don't ever want to go back to work or have a career again. How about that? Husband has told me that if I wanted to work again, I should go out and get any old job that would make me happy--as a clerk in a plant nursery or the local quilt shop, for example--and not worry about the salary. (Of course he DID tell me this back before he quit his job and started his own company...) It was a shocking prospect at the time and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. Why should I be allowed to fuck around at home pursuing hobbies while Husband's out earning all the money? I know I "work" at home, too, but no one's paying me for it. And if I weren't home so much the house wouldn't get so damn messy anyway. If I never had a career again would I regret it? What the hell would I say when people asked me the dreaded "What do you do?" at cocktail parties?

I don't have to decide now, of course, but I'm curious about the rest of you out there. Would any of you out there just not work if it was an option? Maybe a spouse would be supporting you or maybe you'd win the lottery, but however you could swing it, would you quit your job forever? Or not?

And what WOULD you say to people at cocktail parties who ask what you do?


Beth said...

ya know what? I HATE that question at parties or gatherings of people..."So, what do you do?"...Uh, I'm a mom..."Oh.",, and then they walk away to talk to someone more important and interesting.

But I LIKE not working. I think I would hate it everyday if I HAD to get up and go to, if's and's or butt's....I'vve had small jobs here and there, but if I had my dream job, it would be to open an antique store. I love them and want one of my own, so I can travel the world looking for cool things to put in my shop.

I love how calm your post was and then you started getting mad and started cussing! Love that!

Joan said...

I'm pretty happy with my situation but my kids are older than yours (9 and 14). I work part time at a church doing their accounting. I work school hours and allowed a lot of flexibility. I set my own schedule. I'm still waiting to see about my CPA license. right now it's more of a personal goal. I don't see making any job changes.

Piece of Work said...

I think about this ALL THE TIME. In fact, I think it's one of the reasons I am pressuring Lance to have another baby--just to prolong having to figure this out. I hate the "what do you do" question. I love not working, but I also feel like I'm wasting my time. Not with the kids, I love being home with them. But I feel like I'm wasting my education and intellect if I don't go out and get some kind of career. Thing is, the career I had before kids is not something I want to go back to. I don't know. Sometimes I think working in a bookstore might be perfect--but then again, that would be wasting my education too, wouldn't it? Argh.

Amber said...

I also hate the 'so what do you do?' question. Seriously. I've always got half a dozen half assed projects going on at once and it drives my husband crazy. Mostly because I'm doing so much usually that no one thing is perfect. (and he's a huge perfectionist). But I feel like I need to have an 'and' to add to the "I stay home with my kids, AND I'm doing a small side business baking, AND I'm taking classes, AND I'm doing such and such at church, AND I'm working on a book. Seriously. I'm a mom and have 4 kids 8 and under. That should be enough right?

Pretty sure I didn't answer your question there. Would I work? Maybe- after the kids are gone. But I'm not sure that I'd want to answer to a boss and not be able to take off and vacation when ever I want.

Mama D said...

It's weird. I love my job but going back since having A has been odd. My boss is kind of a jerk now. Maybe he always was and now I'm just seeing him for who he really is.

I think about not working. I wonder if I'd go nuts if I was at home all the time yet I usually enjoy my time at home.

So, I guess my answer is "I don't know."

cubmommy said...

I hate that question also. Lucky for me I don't go to parties or is that sad for me?

Anyway, I graduated college and I don't have a desire to work. I have thought about getting a part time job but I don't really want that right now.

I might get a part time job once the kids are in school like at a book store which would be pretty cool. I feel I do a enough right now. Once the kids are in school I hope to have time for myself to exercise or whatever because all my time is consumed by the kids I would like to have a moment just to sit in peace and quiet.

So the answer is no I don't want to work and right now I don't have to.

Nancy said...

Yes, I think I would not work (or work part time, doing something I love) if I had a choice. At least right now, when I'm struggling with being unhappy in my current job. Ask me again in another few months and see where I stand. ;-)

Bitterbetty said...

Hi.. over here from Mommy Mosh Pit..
Funny I should pop in on this post. I satyed home with my son until he started kindergarden, then I went and got my dream job as a window and manniquin stylist for a big fancy department store. I enjoyed that job so much and the hours were perfect.

I was promoted and that was fine too.. But I got another couple of promotions and then I wasn't flexible.I had a huge regional position and I had to travel for work a lot. I was missing key stuff and it felt out of control.

Now I am back to being a stay at home mom with my 11 year old. There wasn't a good after school program and he needs the supervision. I think it is the right choice. Finally our weekends aren't all about groceries and laundry. Our food doesn't come from the freezer. Life is MUCH better.

So I sell some handmade stuff on Etsy too... and then I can answer.. "Oh, I am doing some art and stuff now.."
It gives me something I can call my own. But really it is more like a hobby with an inflated ego.

But the main thing is: This is the best job ever. My whole family is thriving because we can do this right now. And that is more than most cocktail party chatters can say for themselves.

Marci said...

Here in Athens, GA, where so many of my friends are trying to make art, or write, and also make just enough money to live comfortably (by bohemian, minimalist standards), it's considered a little rude to ask a narrow question like, "what do you do?". If someone asks me that question I pretend that I don't know they're referring to a job, and treat it more broadly. I might talk about a good book I'm reading, or a political issue I've been interested in. Or my latest home improvement projects, or gardening... whatever!
It seems to me to say, "I spend most of my time taking care of my kids", is totally respectable and valid. As long as your interests aren't solely kid-oriented, and you can relate to lots of things, you won't be boring to talk to! Most people realize that a job doesn't define you, anyway - it's just a question to get a toehold into figuring out who you are. So, like a mom might say, "Just be yourself!" Be who you are, be comfortable with that, and other people will be, too.

Damselfly said...

Sometimes I think I'd be just as happy not using my degree and working in a coffee shop or something. But yeah, if I had the option of not working, maybe I'd spend my time working for a cause I believe in.

JMom said...

that questions is right up there with "how much do you make" on the rude questions list.

I stayed home for 6 years until my youngest daughter went to kindergarten then went back to work. I went back to work because I was an awful homemaker. I hate cleaning, washing dishes, laundry, etc. The only thing I liked was cooking :) So off to work I went and down the drain the house went until my husband took over the cleaning and the girls learned to wash dishes. I would love to be able to stay home and not be obligated to go elsewhere to work. Perhaps if I had a bookstore or boutique or something like that I wouldn't mind working for myself. My dream job would be to win the lotto and just travel :)

"Grandi" said...

My stock answer during the 12 years I spent as a sahm was, "I'm raising my children"! I was doing that during the first big push to get moms out of the house and it was very "up scale" to have someone else teach your children values, but that just didn't seem like the best for us! After the kids were in school I did work at a few different jobs during the school year, but they were part time during the day, not on holidays or weekends, and I always took my summers off.
I don't have any way of knowing if it was luck or personalized parenting - but both my boys are successful responsible men who have gotten into careers that make it possible for their wives to stay home and raise their children. They tell me it meant a lot to them that I was home when they walked in the door, and they want that for their children! Once they were in college I went back to school to brush up on my skills and have worked full time ever since! My "mom job" was over at that point and I have had a good career that I am now looking forward to retiring from!!
It was ok that I didn't have "career" jobs while I was at home - I just enjoyed being a mom!

When I went back to school I took up ceramics too - 14 years later I am still taking classes at the local community college every semester! My bookkeeper brain really enjoys playing in the mud a couple times a week!!