As I wrote over at Huffington Post today, there is no such thing as a stay-at-home mom or dad. We all work one way or another whether for pay or not. This label keeps rearing its ugly head every so many years when politicians run out of more intelligent ways to attract the female vote. They essentially attempt to divide us. And often a good many of us fall for it.
This brings us to what each of us says when we’re asked: “So what do you do?” It’s a choice point, the kind I’ve written about in Comebacks and my other books. You get to decide whether to emphasize your for-pay work or your not-for-pay work. Both define you to some extent. Neither is necessarily more important or more reflective of who you are. I’ve only been painting for six years but I’ve been a professor and author for much longer. I have raised three children now in college and working and that job goes on for a while. But who am I really? Hmmm.
How we define ourselves is up to us. At an art gallery show last week, my friend who is an extraordinary artist introduced me to other artists as one of them. “This is my friend, Kathleen. She’s an artist.” Well, to be honest, I’m still getting used to that word associated with me. But I didn’t say, “Oh no. I’m actually a professor.” Why bother? That would have been inconsiderate.
In fact, why can’t we be many things? With some people we’re good friends. With others we’re defined by our education or what we’re doing at the time — whether raising children, volunteering, working in the traditional sense, or taking a break from it all.
Labels are so easy to impose on people. We should decide what we want others to learn about ourselves. Then decide what to say. Have some fun with it. If they move on to meet other “more important” people, so be it. You don’t need people like that as friends anyway!