Strangely, I've had the same conversation, answering the same questions several times this week. The main points are:
1. Yes, I'm home with my son full-time.
2. No, that wasn't my plan.
3. I did quality assurance for a small technical publications company, and for a short time, I was a technical copy editor. Which means I judge you for your bad grammar, but not as much as I judge you for your formatting. (That's right, I am mentally red penning your centered, white text on a medium-grey background, and I have stopped reading more than one blog because the layout was so bad as to be offensive.)
The fourth, unspoken question that hangs in the air seems to be something about whether I enjoy what I do now. It's often masked by a strained, "Oh, that's nice...that you get to stay home with him."
The truth is: it's not my ideal situation. But I don't know what would be. (Would anything be?) However, I have begun to see and appreciate the undeniable value in the work I do. And not just the work of being responsible to a growing human being.
I am a homemaker. It feels strange to acknowledge, because despite myself I still have a mental image of what "homemaker" looks like, and she ain't me! I'm too disorganized, too self-centered, too introspective. I despise any task that doesn't get completed and stay completed. I'm visually oriented, but I don't understand interior design. I'm a creative cook, but I can't sew on a button, I am an inefficient housekeeper, and I would rather do my own dental work than garden.
I have been at home full-time since Westley was four months old. But it wasn't until earlier this month when a huge shift took place in my mind and I realized that this home is my work. I've been thinking of the things I do as housework when I need to think of them as home/work.
It seems like a silly thing to come upon more than three years after the fact, but the change in me since I was struck by the home/work concept has been remarkable. For one thing, the house is a lot cleaner. While Rob is away doing his work, I'm home doing mine. Strangely, I no longer resent loading and unloading the dishwasher three times a day. I don't look forward to it, but I approach it with the same attitude I would bring to a page of copy. This needs to be done. It's my job to do it. It doesn't define the kind of person I am, and regardless of how simple or complicated the task is, I can appreciate my ability to do it well. (Plus, unloading and reloading the dishwasher takes five minutes. And then I get to do something else!)
I can't imagine myself as a life-long homemaker, but I'm finally proud of the work I'm doing. I'm not wishing for something else or mourning the loss of a "real job." In fact, I can't imagine a job more real than making a home and raising a child.