I’m sitting on the examination table. Paper is crinkling under my buns, I can feel sweat collecting under my unsupported bust in that lovely gown that doesn’t cover anything I want it to, and my new doctor is holding a freezing cold stethoscope to my back. Between my deep breaths she asks: “so Meagan, what do you do?”
I don’t know the answer.
I know that according to the government I am a homemaker. I have no income and I can’t write off my childcare expenses. To most everyone else I’m a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM), to them my job is my children, keeping them alive, keeping the house in livable condition, and everyone fed. Both of these descriptions are accurate. I don’t make any money and I keep my children out of trouble while I do mountains of laundry and microwave things. So, fair enough.
But is that all that I am?
Part of me, most of me, wants to tell her that I’m a writer. A novelist. I invent worlds and create characters. I make mayhem and stir trouble. I intentionally try to make people cry, or fall in love, or scream at their computer screen. I want to tell her that I write stories and I’d love it if she would read them. But I know what the next question is – “have you published anything?” or something similar (have I seen your work anywhere?) To which I would say: “not really” and then things get awkward.
My doctor is lovely, and she wouldn’t ask me that question to be judgy or condescending. She isn’t creating a line by which I either am or am not a REAL writer. She is just trying to be nice and make conversation. The negative stuff? IT IS ALL IN MY HEAD. But in my head is where the battle is being waged.
Why do I even care? SAHM chafes me. As much as I love spending time with my children, I don’t appreciate or respect my job. In a lot of ways it feels like something I have to do, and not something I want to do. I take pleasure in my children, but I don’t prepare to parent them, I don’t work at it, it’s more of a seat of the pants endeavor. I’m not proud of my parenting skills. I don’t think I have some amazing mothering talent. I don’t want to be seen as “just” a Mom. Something in me craves for people to know that in my spare time I flog myself and cry into my coffee mug (or wine glass.) I am more creative than my facebook pictures show. I am more.
So then? Why the fear? No one is going to contradict me. When I tell the world “I’m a writer” no one is going to say “No you’re not.” Why am I so hesitant, so afraid?
When will I let myself be called a writer? When I publish? Technically, I’m published – I have a thesis in the library at my Alma Mater, I write this blog and have been featured on others. When I make money? Do you have to make money at something in order to be good at it? I think I’m a pretty good Mom, and all that does is cost me money.
I still don’t know the answer.
The cold stethescope is still on my back. Lower now. “Again,” she says. I breathe in and out. “I’m a Stay at Home Mom,” I say. “My kids are 4 and 2.” “Oh, wow!” she says, “you’re busy.”
She doesn’t know the half of it.