Yesterday I was talking to two friends about the fact that I needed to spend today getting myself and my three kids packed for our trip to the beach tomorrow. I'm not supposed to be spending it reading blogs and writing my own, but that's just how I roll! Nothing like packing at the last minute.
The subject of packing for husbands came up. One friend said she did not do anything to get her husband ready for a trip, because they are both veteran travellers for work, and it would be counter-productive for her to pack for him. Makes perfect sense to me. However, I mentioned that my mother had packed for my father, a retired salesman, for just about every weekly trip he had taken in 30 years, which I think is ridiculous (sorry, Daddy!). My friend said, "Yeah, but she was a housewife, right?" To which I said the thing that got me thinking, "No, actually she worked. But, I'm a housewife, and I don't pack for my husband." What? As soon as I said that word, I was uncomfortable. Did I really use that word, housewife? I am married with three children and do not do work that brings in a paycheck, but I do not consider myself a housewife.
When I was a new mother, a friend who was a few years older than me told me that she did not like the term "housewife," because she was married to a man, not a house. I've never forgotten that, and I am truly thankful not to be married to my house. If I was married to my house, it would be demanding a divorce right now. I do not love it and show it the respect it rightly deserves. I ignore it and let it sit in its own dust and clutter and turn a blind eye while I blithely type away on the computer. I have not fancied my house up in pretty paint and curtains, nor have I put paintings or objects of art throughout its rooms, so I'm pretty sure it hates me for that. I am a very bad wife to my house, so needless to say, I do not use that term.
Now let me say something about my friend lest anyone be confused. She respects my position as a "non-paid" mom, and she would never say anything to hurt my feelings. I am sure she used the term "housewife" because she was referring to our mothers' generation and that was the term that they used. This post is not about political correctness. I hate the "word police." We have enough problems in the world without people getting offended for other people. Most people who are up on their "PC" horses are completely disingenuous, and they make me crazy! 'Nuff said.
So, back to my real question. What do I call me? If I don't even know what to call myself, how can I expect others to know what to call me? Some of the titles I have used are stay-at-home mom, which is okay, but doesn't exactly fill the bill. I do stay home to take care of my children, but I also drive kids all over creation and do a lot more than take care of children. I've also used homemaker, but that one makes me nervous. If I am a home maker, what sort of home am I making? Is it a pleasant home? Is it a clean home? Is it a home that is good for my husband, children and myself? I want to break out in hives when I start thinking too much about that, probably because I feel convicted about not being such a great homemaker (see house wanting a divorce above).
Yes, I've heard the titles such as domestic engineer or Mom on Call (okay, my kids are already way too entitled already. There is no way I am giving myself a name that suggests I am at their beck and call!) I even Googled titles for stay-at-home moms and found a Washington Post contest to come up with a new name. I didn't really like the contest, because it was based on political correctness, but I was down-right offended by some of the comments. Lil_Husky suggested that women like me should be called MoochiMoms. Lil_Husky, you are an idiot. Working moms and dads pay someone to take care of their children, but since I do that for my children without getting paid, you think I am mooching off my husband? If I died tomorrow, he would have to pay someone to take care of them, so what exactly is the problem with THEIR OWN MOTHER taking care of them FOR NO PAY? Lil_Husky, I will not waste my outrage on you. I am sure that you are unsightly, have body odor, and no wife or children, therefore you hate women and are bitter. Or even worse, you are one of those husbands who has his wife on an "allowance" of $50 a week for all household expenses whether she needs that much or not. Or worse yet, you are forcing her to work a job she hates when all she really wants to do is be home with her children. *Note to self, do not read comments from idiots.*
The biggest part of my naming problem is that mom is not the only role I play in life. I have many roles: wife, daughter, sister, unpaid writer, Girl Scout leader, school volunteer, embroiderer (for which I do get paid, but it is a pittance and as my husband would say, "If if costs you money, it is a hobby, not a job.") Not to mention the more existential roles I play: child of God, friend, role model, citizen of a small town, the state of Tennessee, the United States, the World (I'm feeling a flashback from 12th grade English and "Our Town"). This list could get quite long. So tell me, why does my title have to do with whether or not I make money. Or, whether or not I am a mother or wife? I know this is a much debated question about sense of self and worth and all that jazz, and I also know that I may not ever be able to answer it in a satisfactory way.
But, I think I have come up with a new title that encompasses all of the roles I play. The next time someone asks me what I do, I think I will reply, "I am a Lori. It's very demanding work, but quite fulfilling, too." At least that is what I am going to call myself until I hit the best-seller list, and then I'll just call myself a best-selling author. I rather like the ring of that.
*In case you are curious, the reason I do not pack for my husband, even though I am a Lori, is that he does not want me to. I tried to pack for him when we first got married, because I thought it was a "wifey" thing to do. (See story about my mother above.) He thanked me very much and then proceeded to ask me 42 questions about what I had packed and ended up taking everything out and re-doing it himself. Now I just make sure he has clean clothes and put some underwear and undershirts on the bed next to his suitcase and let him pick the rest himself. He is really the most efficient man I know. He can pack for a week in about 10 minutes and not forget anything and have exactly what he needs. I am in awe of his packing prowess. I, on the other hand, take forever, forget highly important things like contact solution or underwear, and am still packing after he has loaded the entire car and is honking outside for me and yelling, "come on!" But, maybe that's because by the time I get ready to pack for myself, I have already packed for three other people and my brain has shut down. Speaking of which, time to go and pack. This time is going to be different!