I had to fill out one of the innumerable child-related registration forms recently. It was an oddly detailed form in order to register Middle for gymnastics. It asked my occupation and I sat there, pen hovering above the blank line, at a complete loss as to what to write.
“Engineer”? No, that wasn’t right. I have no plans to go back to my job – or any job remotely related to it – when the leave of absence that I am on ends.
“Homemaker”? I am pretty sure that term is several decades out of fashion and what exactly does a homemaker do anyway? Pin hundreds of projects on pinterest and then never get around to actually doing them because you are too busy doing the laundry, making five meals a day, and trying to read a book that does not have any pictures in it?
“Mother”? Well I certainly am one of those – three times over – but that isn’t an occupation; or is it?
“Student”? Does taking a class two nights a week count? What if it’s a hard class?
“Lactation Educator”? Well, I do consider myself one, but does it count if I have never actually been paid for my services. What if I’ve applied for lactation-related jobs, but haven’t gotten any yet?
“Writer”? The form isn’t asking what I would love to be but rather what I am.
I put the pen down, put the form back up on the fridge and felt as if all the air had left my soul. I had no idea what I was. I wasn’t even entirely sure what I wanted to be if I had the chance; do I have to pick just one? And then I went and made dinner because no matter how Mama feels, everyone wants to eat. I had class that night and I could hardly concentrate. I kept blinking back tears. And then I came home and cried. Hard. For a long time. What the hell am I doing leaving a well paying job with good benefits? Sure they’ve discriminated against me, denied me a promotion or transfers, it’s a three hour round trip drive to and from work, and there’s an intermittent air quality problem that was making me sick that hasn’t been solved. But it’s not as if I am working in a coal mine. I could be a stay at home mom, a homemaker if you want to go vintage, for a year or two and it will be fun, relaxing even, but what happens after that? What if I don’t get into school after taking finishing my prerequisites? And how do we keep the kids in their perfect, lovely private school if we do that? Is impossible that I should be able to have a fulfilling career and that the kids should get a nice house in a safe neighborhood and a good education? Are women doomed to always being mothers first; to the ultimate end of subjugating themselves?
In the end came to my senses; well aware that the folks at gymnastics class don’t really give a damn what I do as long we pay for the class. I left the form blank. That felt like the most honest choice of all.