It wasn’t until recently (color me stupid, here, or at the very least, not very introspective) that I realized that the innocuously innocent things that people ask you that inadvertently offend you are the ones that most often offer the greatest insight into your own insecurities. Ask an unhappily unmarried person when they’re getting married, you’ll get the same internal reaction as if you ask a unhappily childless couple when they’re having kids.

The moment I popped Alexander out (but interestingly enough, NEVER before), the barrage of the very same question began to appear: would I have another? And before I could say yay or nay, they would express that I should have another, but this time A GIRL. I assured these Eager Beavers that yes, maybe someday we would have another child, but the sex of said child was completely out of my hands. We’d all have a laugh together and we would each separately move on our way.

(as a complete aside here, should we ever decide that having another child is, in fact, a good idea, it had BETTER be a girl, not because I don’t adore having all boys: I do, but because I have no good boys names left. Between my two sons and their 17 names apiece, as a couple we have no names left that we can agree upon. So, our hypothetical (very strong hypothetical these days) third son would be named “Jack Bauer” (my last name), “Vincent D’Onofrio (my last name) or better yet “Hugh Laurie” (my last name). Yes, my kid would be ranked out and beaten by his peers, and it would be COMPLETELY MY FAULT because I had used up all of the decent names already.)

Now, to painfully highlight MY own inner demons, just ask me “What do you do?” and I assure you that my answer will be stammered out, while looking at my feet and getting progressively misty-eyed and upset.

As much as I adore staying home with my children (and I do, I swear), this was probably the last place in the world I’d have expected to be. I’d always equated staying home with my children with dying a slow painful death (and somedays, I am spot on here), and always assumed that I would be much more a Career Person (you know, the kind with 4 inch heels and power suits COMPLETELY DEVOID of spit up. Possibly with a shirt that was ALWAYS BUTTONED UP.). I’d probably even have a House Husband (or two) and I would TOTALLY have a cabana boy.

Well, heh-heh, WELL, things didn’t exactly go as planned(what does, really?). Despite having the best intentions with getting my degree and license, it’s one of those things that I’ve learned that I simply cannot do. The integral flaw in my reasons behind getting this degree was that I didn’t realize that with nursing, you cannot half-ass it. If you want to do, really do this job, you must be willing to put in 150% at all points in time, a devotion that I was unable to muster. I saw it merely as a means to another end: I would do this until such point as I was able to go back to school, once my small children were older, and pursue my true passion.

But (there’s always a but with me, isn’t there. And not even the GOOD kind of butt), now I must just hurry up and wait. Maybe I’m not always the most amazing mother (CHOCOLATE CHIPS IN HIS LUNCH, SWEET JESUS, KILL ME NOW), but I am not willing to half-ass rearing my children either, at least, not at this moment. Eventually, there will too-soon come a time that I will not be quite as needed as I am now by The Sausage Factory.

I cannot half ass an advanced degree, either (at least for very long. I’d soon get kicked out of the field, and rightly so). When I am ready, I will go balls to the wall with it, kick ass, take names, and occasionally smack a bitch up (well, here and there), and some days this thought is all that keeps me going (especially those days that the baby manages to shit all the way up to his hair. It sounds completely impossible, but I assure you it is not).

Strangers do not want to listen to this. Why? Because it’s fucking boring.

What they’re looking for is a succinct “I am a nurse,” or “I am a doctor,” and possibly even a “I am a telemarketer” (although the last statement might be met with a similar response as I received when I would say “I work for an insurance company. As a nurse.” The responses varied from spitting in my general direction to lobbing nearby objects at me. Not sure that I blame them, especially since they would march away in disgust before I could justify that I never! denied! anyone! EVER! I! EXTENDED! BENEFITS!). Not one soul cares about the justification I have for staying home (my husband works 80+ hours a week! Daycare is damn expensive! I’m breast feeding! I am a leper!), nor do they care IF I stay home at all.

*I* alone am the only one who cares about that sort of thing. And I’m pretty damn certain that I’ve probably freaked out a few strangers with my dissertation. I have since learned to censor myself, give a vague “I’m home with the kids,” and move the hell on with my day.

It has, however, made me FAR more sensitive to what I ask and say to complete strangers. Anyone who knows me well can see right through my idiotic comments to people who I don’t know (somewhere along the lines of “you wear shoes! ME TOO! They’re so good at covering your feet, aren’t they?”), but that, too, is okay with me.

Now that Aunt Becky has aired some of her considerably large pile of dirty laundry, why don’t you tell her what bugs the pants off of you when asked about it? Maybe it’s not just things that highlight insecurities, maybe it’s just how damn PRYING complete strangers can be. Whatever it is, though, I am totally dying to hear it.

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

13 Responses to Aren’t You Sorry You Asked?

  • Josh Hawkins says:

    Maybe my job involves me meeting more parents than most single men do, but I’ve long since come to the conclusion that being a stay at parent is a full time job, and not an easy one.

    My experience is that I work roughly 60-80 hours a week, and compared to a stay-at-home mom, that’s relaxing. I at least get vacations, time off at the end of some of the days, a full 5-6 hours of continuous sleep the majority of nights. I may go 3 months without a day off, but I do get them eventually. I hear stay-at-home mom, and I realize that that person works harder than I ever have.

    And well strangers on the street may not want to hear about your job, a number of us read about it online it would seem. And I wonder how much that not wanting to hear about it is a sublimated resentment that they/we don’t have what you have.

    I also wonder how much those of us without kids just can’t relate, how different is your life with kids from your life without? Is this a life event that fundamentally sets you, and your life style apart from those of us without kids? Or, when people ask you about being a stay-at-home mom does that open a door into a conversation that those of us without kids can’t join in, and often can’t change the subject away from? Just asking here.

  • Kim says:

    here is what I can say about “stay at home parenting”. I did it for a couple of years when my Little Man was born.

    After 8 months or so, EYE was looking forward to Sesame Street, my brain had gone to jello, and working OUT of my home for .60 cents a day was starting to look good.

    I simply adore my children…they are the sun and the moon to me, but I needed to get out and be a grown up again. I woudn’t trade the time I had at home with Lew for anything, but the time had come for Mommie to leave the nest for about 8 hours a day.

    I got my wish, I have a job where I am gone approximatly 10 hours a day with drive time, but he’s in school for 8 of those hours so I don’t feel too badly. I love my job *hearing the audible gasp from the readers* it’s true, I do and even more than that, I LOVE coming home to hear what happened in everyone’s day. It makes me MORE understanding, patient, and I think, a better parent. *this works for me, I’m not foisting it on anyone else*

    Enjoy the day and BECKY, I’m considering the blog, but really glad we could “share” a drink last night *thinking, another chicky who has a taste for whiskey*, I think I have found a home on your blog….Sista, hope you don’t mind if I settle in, shake off the snow, and stay a while.

    k

  • Cara says:

    My least favorite rude personal comment is when people say to me something along the lines of “Wow, you’re really short!”

    I hate that not because I’m not short nor because I’m unhappy with my height (I kind of like being short) but because they seem to expect some sort of response from me. What am I supposed to say to that? It seems like they want me to be embarrassed by my height or apologize for it. Then they’re excessively polite and/or jokey with me because *they* feel awkward about it.

  • Kristine says:

    I also hate to tell people what I do. I often just tell them who I work for and let them assume what they want about what position I hold – they usually guess secretary or some kind of admin type. Generally i can get away with it, unless I’m with someone who knows and volunteers the info. I’m an engineer. And when people hear that at parties and what not, they back away slowly and look for the easiest way to get away from me. I don’t know why people do that to me, seriously not 10 second prior, we were having a decent conversation and now they think that I think they’re stupid or something. I’m not that judgemental.

    I also hate when people asked while I was pregnant if I was dilated…umm…did you just ask what my cervix looks like? I have got to learn to implement the “Why do you ask?” from Miss Manners. I’m usually too stunned to do it.

  • Cricket says:

    I’ve been a stay at home mom of one kid for 10 years. Imagine the reactions – I continued staying at home after he went to school! Gasp!

    What I really hate being asked is if I am ready for Xmas. People don’t know my religious upbringing. How dare they make assumptions about my religion. It’s based on me looking pretty white bread, that’s all.

  • Gail says:

    OOOH! I get lots of these comments!!

    From people noticing that my kids are of a different race than me or finding out that I’ve adopted:

    Are they yours? No butthead, I stole them.

    Are they related? No, I have a family full of unrelated people.

    Where are they from? Little Company of Mary Hospital, idiot.

    And my personal favorite…

    How much did they cost? My usual snide answer? More than you can afford.

    Erk. I hate people. But that’s no surprise to anyone who knows me…

    Oh, and Becky, when people ask me what I do, my answer is usually “I’m the director of marketing for a major children’s hospital. But I used to be a CFO!” Somehow, as much as I REALLY love my job now, I find it doesn’t garner the immediate respect that the CFO title did. I HATED being a CFO. Other than saying no all the time and denying things to people. That part was fun.

    PS – I would totally date you, too! :)

  • Kristin says:

    I stopped reading after I saw Vincent D’Onofrio written in your blog. I am so excited for the CI special tonight that I can hardly wait to get home.

    Let’s call eachother during the commercials and gush about how he is super-gross but we still want to do him so bad that it hurts.

    Ok – I am going to go read the rest of your blog now.

  • Kristin says:

    In regards to my job – most people ask a lot of questions – and for the most part, I am happy to oblige. However, as you know, some people are very judgmental about the Advertising Industry.

    Yes, I used to plan media for a sugary kid cereal – I did not personally make your children fat.

    Yes, my new Client is a major beer company – No, I do not feel responsible for people’s DUI accidents.

    Yes, yes, I used to be what some would call a “hippy” in High School (as much as someone who graduated in 1999 can be a Hippy) – but dammit – I like working for the man. It’s called “growing up” and “supporting yourself.”

    Wow…I must have taken an extra bitter pill this morning.

  • Juli says:

    Oh, there’s no way I can watch that CI thing. I love D’Onofrio, but he’s already too good at being borderline crazy. Him being actually crazy would traumatize me.

  • Chris says:

    First off, I love your new design.

    So, it’s funny that you write this because even though I have a big-girl *career* and all, I refuse to tell people what I do. I’d rather tell them that I was a stay at home mom. To my plants. I was in publishing (a job I quite liked), I learned real quick not to tell people what I did for a living because the immediate next sentence was something like “Ooh! I have the perfect book for you!” No, actually, you don’t. Now I don’t tell people what I do because the immediate next sentence was “Can you get me a job?” No, actually, I can’t.

    And yeah, I get irritated with the constant “When are you going to get married? Why don’t you live together? Don’t you want to start a family?” (the last one really irks me; I HAVE a family. I have way too much family. I DON’T NEED TO GO MAKING NEW FAMILY, THANKYOUVERYMUCH.), and it’s annoying, yes, and I wish they’d shut up, yes, but the one that gets me more than anything is when people say things like “Don’t you have a degree in English or something?”

    Why, yes, actually. I have two. And I have a degree in Italian language, and one in secondary education, and a handfull of teaching certifications in all of the above. And somehow, having a liberal arts degree means that I can’t do math, I can’t budget, I’m not “smart enough” to do business, and I generally sit around sucking my thumb all day and drooling (oh, and cooking chicken while in tears). I especially get irritated when I speak to a parent (not you; you know who) about education–not even in particular to their child–(keeping in mind that I have two degrees in education and have done educational-related work for 5+ years now) and they remind me that the header on my degree is English.

    Go fuck yourself. Seriously.

  • Kristin says:

    Chris – I feel you with the Liberal Arts major – don’t people know that people with a LA degree can do ANYTHING??? Liberal Arts just means that you didn’t pigeon-hole yourself into one career field for the rest of your life.

  • Ashley says:

    It’s boring and typical, but the marriage question gets me every time. My canned response is “I’m with the person I’m going to be with and marriage will come when the ring that I want can be afforded without requiring prostitution by either party.” Usually makes people go away. However, sometimes people ask a question that makes my cheeks turn bright red with discomfort and anger…such as “but doesn’t he drive a ________________?” Thanks for pointing out to me that his car is more important to him that buying me a ring. I appreciate it. Oh, and I had never thought of that before, either. Now please go away and die.

  • becky says:

    I’ve learned the hard way not to mention in any way that I am a nurse to strangers. Not because I am ashamed of this, but because I’ve gotten tired of having to tell people that no, in fact, I DON’T want to look at that horrible rash on your penis. I have no problem helping out my friends with medical adivice, BUT I DON’T NEED YOU TO PULL DOWN YOUR PANTS. So yeah, Chris, I imagine this is how you felt about publishing (wait! I have a book for you! Hahahahaha, no, no, I don’t).

    There is NOTHING wrong with a LA degree. It’s a great major, and allows far more versitillity than a degree in say, oh I don’t know, NURSING.

    Kristin, CHARGE YOUR PHONE NOW. This episode is over an hour long and I CANNOT WAIT. What the hell is wrong with us that we are so in love with Vincent D’Onofrio (wait, go youtube him. People are crazy about him. Wait, let me rephrase this: people are CRAZY).

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