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.