I started writing this blog in January of 2010 as both a 365 day photo project and a place to discuss a question which had bothered me for a long time. The title was “What do you do? The question that makes stay-at-home moms squirm”.
While I was actively writing about this topic, I came to understand that “stay at home moms” were not the only ones who struggled with this question, that indeed its a source of discomfort for a lot of women, for people who do creative work, and those who choose paths which aren’t financially remunerative.
It was an ambitious project, and it almost ate me alive. After about 4 months, I stopped writing. The questions I wrestled with created lengthy posts of convoluted thinking and reasoning that often kept me writing deep into the night. Between creating a daily photograph that in some way I found relevant, and the writing, I had given myself a part-time job that I hadn’t made time for in my life. So… I quit. And then I wrestled with quitting on a commitment I’d made to myself.
Four years after beginning this project, the question I asked has got me by the tail again and I’ve decided to take another stab at making my peace with it.
The “About Me” that I wrote four years ago is below – edited to accurately reflect the passage of time:
I have 3 kids, ages 17, 21, and 23. They will undoubtedly appear in this blog because my life has revolved around theirs for the last twenty-three years. In the course of my “career”, I have wrestled with the idea of being a stay-at-home mom more than I have been at peace with it. I have watched other women in my peer group do the same, more or less gracefully. On my own journey, I have sometimes tried to live two lives because I chose to stay home and raise my kids, and at the same time often found that this choice left me feeling like I had given up my identity, left me no room for dreams, and confined me to an existence lacking imagination. To counter this perception, I built a creative life that has tried to survive alongside and in the small spaces carved out and stolen from the the 24/7 job of the stay at home mom.
Now that my children are basically young adults, with the youngest only a year away from high school graduation, its easier to give myself permission to do the creative work I love. I started a new blog (www.farmimaginings.com) about sustainable farming and food production which allows me to explore a topic creatively that I’ve cared deeply about for years.
Today, when someone asks me “What do you do?” I have an answer that includes about ten things and usually ends up with me mumbling something about wearing many hats. I still squirm. Why? Why do I not simply state that I’m a stay at home mom, that I’ve raised three great kids, and that I write, photograph, grow food, and do a lot of art projects? Isn’t that enough? Its a very rich life. And yet… there’s something I’m not saying because I’m still not comfortable answering the question.
So, four years later, I’m back. And I’m sneaking up on the question from a different angle this time, hoping it won’t see me coming, so I’ll have the advantage when I try to wrestle it to the ground.