An Assessment

photo by Sylvia
photo by Sylvia

“What do you do?” he asked with wide-eyed anticipation.

“Well, I straighten the living room every morning and clean the kitchen several times a day. I take the puppy out every hour, which is no small task because there are 32 steps per trip. I go to the grocery store and contemplate my purchases of milk, peach iced tea, pop tarts and cereal, hoping it reflects nothing upon my mothering skills. I take pictures of sunsets and pine cones and random leaves in the rain. I laugh with my teen-aged children and find myself wanting to shellac them in place to this very time when I know where they sleep and they’re warm in my house. I write little snippets of thoughts that I don’t call poetry but sometimes can be seen as poetic. Every evening, I listen for the train and it brings me comfort. I share jokes with my husband and miss him when he’s working away from us. Sometimes I make scrambled eggs for breakfast. Occasionally I draw on rocks or cut butterflies out of white paper. I drive with the windows down and Tom Petty playing in the background. I drink coffee with generous amounts of sugar and milk. I clean the bathrooms and don’t particularly enjoy that task although I don’t mind running the vacuum as much as I mind doing the laundry.”

Glassy-eyed and frightened, he walked away.

If I’d have said, “graphic designer” would that have told him what he wanted to know?

55 thoughts on “An Assessment”

  1. I love it. I used to be the proud career woman who asked this question of people too. I’ve since had to take a career break and my has it opened up the rest of me. The circumstances under which I came into this were not good ones, but man am I glad for it. Didn’t get fulfillment from my title anyway.


    1. Woven into a conversation, stemming from something else or phrased differently is usually ok. But sometimes the ridiculousness of the actual question and the timing is just off. And then I say something (shorter version) like this and I’m both proud and horrified at the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Sylvia, women do many things at the same time, taking care of kids and home, working outside home, our world is a crazier one, and most people (men and women) don’t recognize it. A title is more important than the love and care we put on what we do for them.


    1. I usually go along and answer in an “appropriate” way. Sometimes that question, phrased in that way, just really annoys me. Also, of course it depends on how its being asked. I probably shouldn’t join any networking groups.


  3. 🙂 this is kind of like people asking me where I am traveling and I tell them I am living, not traveling. They usually find a way to end the conversation shortly after.


  4. I, too, have an aversion to such categorizations – that sort of party chat, but I also love to play with words and create new titles for such inane questions. I was once a “Fiscal Shaman”. Lately, though, when asked, I like the flavor of saying “artist”.
    Love your blog.


  5. You have an inspiring blog and it is a pleasure to read. I was once asked (when I had two young pre-schoolers at home), “..and you, do you work?” My reply was, ” All Mothers work!” As if to say not being engaged in paid work, meant your role was devalued. Keep up the great work. I look forward to more gems like this post.


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