I went to a party on Saturday night (which happened to be brilliant - haven't done an all nighter in a very long time) where the only person I knew was M. It was an engagement party for one of his friends, and a gathering of people that hadn't seen each other in a while. Lots of conversation and catching up and laughs.
I got asked three questions A LOT. "How long have you and M been seeing each other?" (which was quickly followed by, "and we are only meeting you NOW?") "Are you and M going to have any kids?" and this one - "What do you do?"
My response of "I am full time mum" was for the most part followed with another question - "What did you do before?" I worked in a bank for fuck's sake. It was incredibly important. I was a manager in the financial services division, responsible for 20 other staff, and ensuring that people's superannuation and investments didn't get fucked up. (No I didn't actually say this, but I must admit when I got asked this question for the second time it was the dialogue going on in my head.)
Not everyone dismissed the last 16 years of my life by wanting to know what I did before I started the job of growing small human beings into big ones. I had some lovely conversations with a couple of people about my job as a mother, and who were quite happy to look at pictures of my greatest achievements.
I'm fairly certain that the people who asked "What did you do before?" weren't intentionally overlooking what I am doing right now. It was a question made automatically because mothering doesn't make money. Thankfully, I'm evolved enough after 16 years to not let that question take away how I feel about making the choice to mother full time. It did annoy me - but more as an interesting sociological kind of observation.
Is it any surprise then that so many of us mothers feel so undervalued at what we do? 95% of the time I second guess everything I do as a mother. Which leaves only 5% where I feel like I hit the sweet spot, just like a tennis player does when they hit that ball and it does exactly what they want it to do. It seems, that in general society really doesn't value mothering as a job. What a shame. Because personally I think that while its the hardest job in the world, its the one that deserves the most recognition and admiration.
Next time you meet someone new and ask THAT question, listen to what they are doing NOW, don't be so quick to want to know what they were doing BEFORE. Its what they are doing now that is important.