Dear Miss Manners:
What is the proper response to someone who asks, “What do you do every day? What do you do with your time?”
This is an unfortunate attempt to start a conversation, as it implies that the person being queried might be useless. Should you not be willing to overlook this, Miss Manners recommends, “I lie on the couch and read trashy novels and eat bonbons.”
This is the column from August 18th. It made me cringe. ”What do you do?” is a question I’ve always hated since taking a career break to be a stay-at-home mom. It’s a question that feeds into my own self-doubts and questions about my self-worth.
These feelings didn’t plague me much the first few years at home. I was really busy trying to organize our home and get our three kids into a routine. And then our youngest came along, and I was a dfferent kind of busy again. When he went off to pre-school, I started teaching a single college class. That felt great. I loved teaching.
But after five years of teaching as an adjunct, I wanted more. There were no full-time positions available, so I decided to just take some time off and figure things out. Only what I really did was slide into what I believe was depression. I felt no sense of accomplishment, and the challenges of laundry and meal preparation just weren’t cutting it. But rather than motivating me, I just sunk further.
I’m not sure how I began to pull out of that funk. I know I just started talking about returning to work. And even though it didn’t go over very well at home, or even amongst other stay-at-home mom friends, I just kept talking. It was like practicing a script. And the more I said it, the more I felt compelled to back it up with action.
The biggest hurdle has been convincing myself I can do it.