where wildly different is perfectly normal
Do you work?
Do you work?

Do you work?

Do you workMy least favorite question in the history of language-based inquiry is “Do you work?”

Bitch, please. There is not a woman in the entirety of recorded civilization who hasn’t worked, it’s just not always work that is recognized or valued. Caring for one’s children, sure not a lot of pay there. Running a home on one salary for multiple people, sure no applause for that feat. Can you imagine how many non-profits would fold without the volunteer efforts of “non-working” women?

Yeah, I work. Hard. Unfortunately, most people don’t see the effort, they just wonder why I’m so stressed out. I can’t leave my work at the office because home and office (and school) are one and the same. Trust me, I’d love to work for respectable pay, with benefits and a 401k and all that, but I can’t see how I could possibly make that work with my family situation…and if I don’t check it quickly, that often leaves me angry and frustrated and overflowing with self-loathing.

No, I don’t leave my house at 7 am five days of seven to use my skills in exchange for monetary compensation. Amuses me that this is so assumed these days when barely a generation ago it was nearly unheard of for a mother to do such a thing. Times move slowly until they sprint.

I’ve been out of the “official” full-time workforce for 15 years, which is about seven or eight years longer than I expected. At this point I’m practically unemployable by today’s standards. Anything in which I’m interested I do not have enough experience or the wrong qualifications, I’m overqualified for positions that don’t require any experience at all, and have too much experience to be affordable in positions for which I am qualified. My degrees are in music and education, which don’t always transfer well to other areas, and I don’t have the time or money or patience or interest to return to school at this time to get a degree or training in god knows what for a position doing who knows what.

I don’t sit around all day in yoga pants doing nothing. Ok, maybe in weeks past I was sitting around in yoga pants, but that’s because something I ate had not set well with my system, and instead of the bloating going to my boobs as would only be fair and just, I looked about four months pregnant. But I’m not doing nothing. I’m planning the fall homeschool lessons for a high schooler please light a candle for me I am not ready for this. I’m working on my second book. I’m writing and scheduling blog posts. I’m setting up speaking engagements. I’m organizing and cleaning and prepping and setting routines and figuring what to keep and what to drop so that I can homeschool and run a household and teach flute and continue to write and maybe, just maybe, also start up my own business. Someday my sons really will be on their own and won’t need me hourly daily and I’d like to have something ready to take that space.

In the meantime, I’ve found a way to ensure a tiny bit of peace as I work in my open loft office:

Do Not Disturb Mom

This plus earplugs and an absolute refusal to acknowledge any interruptions is training my sons to leave me alone while it’s on the music stand near my desk. Just don’t even try, dudes.

I work. I work hard. I wish I were paid accordingly, but I’m not. But that doesn’t mean I don’t work.

So when I’m asked, yet again, if I work, my answer will be simply, “yes.” And that’s it.


  1. qH

    YES. Amen, sister. My version for now is to tell my daughter (who has a desk in my office/study) that “this is a place where I do work. If you are not in here to do work and are just here to whine about it, you need to get out.” And though I am a musical dilettante, no, she may not play Xbox when I am playing the piano (it’s next to the TV).

    I still do ghostwriting for other attorneys, and because I am still smarting at her question (unjustly, probably, because she was a year and a half younger), “Mom, have you ever been in a courthouse?” I argued in the MF court of appeals while heavily pregnant, kid. And it maybe wasn’t fair, but I spent a good deal of time last week showing her what the research and writing of a response to a motion for summary judgment looked like, and even told her the salient facts of the case (not my usual sort of child abuse case, but a garden variety serious child injury). Which does not even begin to get into the book proposal or novel which I really want to do–so I may kill my husband the next time HE asks, “Have you thought about dinner?”

    Yes. The book I’m reading is research. Go get takeout sushi.

    1. Jen

      No, have YOU thought about dinner? 😉
      I want my boys to see my working, to see that women DO work from home (actual, society accepts it work), but dammit, I can barely concentrate when they’re around. So when do they see me work? Same problem with me practicing my flute, but at least they can hear me then.

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