Can you imagine a world where, rather than asking what do you ‘do’ for a living strangers would ask what you ‘are’?
It’s a fine line already, isn’t it? And finer still now that it’s a criminal offence to use the wrong pronoun when addressing someone as he or she, but I don’t want to get all gender-politics here…
It’s just, when someone asks me what I ‘do’ and I reply “I’m a full-time stay-at-home-mom,” (I am a housewife but it’s not entirely something that I do) their eyes usually glaze over. Really! It’s true.
And upon hearing my response the person asking typically turns around and saunters off (runs) the other way (another room, another house, another building), or quietly backs away from the buffet table in search of ‘salt’ wink-wink (or a more interesting conversation elsewhere).
I can admit there are times when I want to scream in their dazed-over faces or yell at their backs, “What? Not interesting enough? Are you freaking kidding me? I have four kids. Count ‘em! FOUR! I can tell you stories that will make your hair curl, or re-grow, or revert back to its original colour.”
But I’m one of those do-gooders in the old-fashioned sense so I’d never try to be rude. I might want to be rude, but I can’t. Really! I’ve tried and it just doesn’t suit me. So I make jokes and tell funny stories and get all cliché with things like, ‘oh I’m a professional kept woman,’ or ‘my hubby brings home the bacon and I eat it,’ or ‘I have a PhD in Domestic Engineering;’ while inside I’m furious that our society doesn’t appreciate someone like me: someone who, regardless of her background, career goals, education, skills or experience, gives it all up to become an unpaid, under-appreciated, and sometimes even disrespected, mother and housewife.
In the past I’ve been teased that I must have gone to university to get my M.R.S. Degree, or that when I met my husband (who actually has his M.D., MSc, and PhD) I was looking for a free ticket –gasp– (which couldn’t be further from the truth: I’ve paid for my ticket in blood, sweat, and tears, ten times over).
So while I might be too polite to get into’er at the party buffet table, I am not too bashful to get into’er here, safely, in my own private little blog-world (that nobody ever reads) where I can have all the imaginary conversations about what I am and what I do, without any judgement what-so-ever.
“Hi. So, what are you?”
“I’m a female human.”
(Because depending on what I am wearing or how my hair is cut it might actually be questionable)
“I can clearly see that, but what else are you?”
“ Oh. Uh. Thanks for asking. I have a BScN and I was a full-time R.N. until I became (transformed/metamorphosed into) a M.O.M. and one of those M.R.S. things; and now, I’m all of those things but I’m also a TRANSLATOR and a WRITER and a BUSINESS ADMINISTRATOR and a MEDICAL CORPORATION ASSISTANT, and a bunch of other things.”
(It’s a long list)
“That sounds fascinating. Which one of those roles is your favourite?”
(Obviously this being is other-worldly)
“Hmmm, depends on how well-behaved they are or if they help me put out the recycling, hah, just kidding. Hands down it’s the M.O.M. role that I prefer.”
“Then why not tell me about the four incredible human beings you’ve created.”
(You see what I mean? The one asking is clearly not from earth)
“Sure, let’s grab a plate and some of that plastic cutlery so we can eat and chat at the same time, over dinner. But first, tell me, what are you?”
“Oh, I’m just a shmale* astrophysicist from Planet Grogon in the Extirpian Galaxy, but that’s not very exciting. I’d much rather hear about you.”
And later, after we fill our bellies and laugh until we cry, this other-worldly being and I will come to the common realization that it doesn’t matter what we do but it does matter who we are, deep down inside: the kind of person we are and the kind of person we are willing to share with others is what really counts whether or not we come from The Milky Way.
What we do with that is up to each of us.
*Shmale: the combined pronoun used for a being who identifies as both female and male, and can biologically reproduce asexually, on their own (Yes, I made that up just now).
Extirp: to uproot (vegetation); extirpate (to wipe out or destroy completely) (It’s a real word: look it up).