Thursday, October 11, 2007


Which is exactly why I don't work...

I've alluded from time to time here about my eternal internal conflict. I don't have job. (Because I think it would make life for all the family so much harder (me included) - particularly with the history of Marc working away so much, and not having any extended family for back up.)

But I would like to work to feel like a useful and contributing member of the family and society.

I'm continually beating myself up over it.

I tend to dread the question "So what do you do?" , and I've never quite come up with the perfect answer.

This morning I went into town to a new 'pre-work' Thursday morning community bike ride. 26km of exercise I wouldn't have otherwise done, and being school holidays I wasn't going to feel guilty about not being at home to get kids off to school. (Marc is away in Sydney for 3 days.)

Afterwards I was asked the Dreaded Question. By a woman who runs one of the local bike shops and a travel agency. (And probably several other things I don't know about.) She is the classic Business Woman, and I probably should have predicted her attitude.

"So, do you work in town... or do you work from home?" she asked me.

I said that, no, well, I don't actually work, and muttered stuff about Marc working away a lot, and me being around for the kids. (In hindsight I should have just said I 'worked at home'.)

As an afterthought I added "I'd work If I could find a 9-3 job."

I wasn't quite prepared for the vehemence of her response:

"Oh I get so sick of these women applying for jobs, but only wanting 9-3, and two or three days a week... and school holidays and the like. I can't operate a business like that.."

Some smartarse added "If you want hours like that there's school teaching."

I shrugged my shoulders and said "So, yeah, well, that's why I don't even bother applying... That's why I don't work."

I guess some of it is regional town mentality. But today, well... She basically just cemented the reticence I have always had about approaching anyone locally for a job with the flexibility I want and need.

It shouldn't be impossible to find work with flexible hours. In Sydney my sister saw and applied for the perfect job - it was advertised for 2 days a week, 9 - 3. Perfect. (And she got it.)

I know other people who get offered casual/part time/flexible work - hours that suit them. How do they do it?

By now I realise that nothing like that is going to land in my lap. If nothing else, this morning's little anecdote has convinced me that I'll need to pursue some sort of work from home.

Meanwhile I need to work on a flippant response to The Question. Something like "Oh, we have a very traditional division of labour at home. He earns the money, and I spend it."


I love your response at the end.

You do work - its just that you do not choose a career path that is publicly rewarded.
You do work, you work at making other people jealous of your apparent freedom from deadlines and a boss etc etc.

Frankly I'd be inclined to tell someone like that to just plain piss off and kiss their own arse.
I thought briefly about going back to work but discovered that what employers and employees considered to be flexible hours are often 2 completely different things. And I didn't want to add too much travelling time to my day either.
Then once I sat down and did the sums I found it wasn't worth it financially and deep down I knew I didn't really want to work other than for the fact that I felt guilty for not contributing in a monetary sense.
When asked what I *do* I tell people I am a mum. Most mature people comment that that's hard enough work as it is.
Mind you I would dearly love to have the courage to take a leaf out of Jebus' book and tell people to kiss their own arse if they made any negative comments about my chosen profession. But in reality I would have wanted to crawl under a rock if that businesswoman had made such an aggressive comment towards me.
I like your pre prepared response too, might have to pinch that one :)
You're right about the freedom thing, Jebus.. Anytime I think seriously about getting a job, for the sake of getting a job, a little voice in my head tells me that it would be much harder to coordinate leave/days off, etc, so that we can go off and do the things we like to do.

I don't think this women realised what she was criticising.. To be fair, she wasn't actually criticising mums who choose not to work. She was criticising those who have, in her opinion as an employer, the sheer audacity to want shorter/flexible hours.

So.. basically... their loss. I could be a good employee. I'm not dumb. I'm honest, conscientious.

Shishy... your little one is still little.. so you're still in the period where people are more accepting of a choice to be at home. With mine now 14, 12 and just about 9, the eyebrows raise a little more than they used to...

i think it's great for a mum to be at home for older kids.

hopefully I will be able to do that when the time comes too.
We don't 'work' because our families take priority, and we have the good fortune of having picked a mate who can provide in a manner that allows us not to.
I would usually say:

I'm the lucky one who gets to stay at home, work and play to my hearts content, shop during the week so there is room for you in line on the weekends and remember, I keep the week-day economy rolling.
Well there goes my job request form. I would be looking for 9-3 as well. Oh I hate that question too, for similar reasons. When I say I am home with the kids, I usually get asked how old they are, as if there is an acceptable length of time in which such a response can be used.
You should tell them you are a proud Mama and an are.
Yes, other than replying "Mum" you could indeed say "Cyclist" but I like your reply about spending his money.

I'm not just shocked at her attitude (of course plenty of people are looking for flexible hours) I'm actually more shocked that she would voice her thoughts in front of you. For all she knows, you could have applied for lots of jobs asking for flexible hours such as the people she was referring to.

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