I like to think that maybe it is just innocent small talk, but far too often, it feels quite judgmental — like the asker is gauging how lazy I am by my response, like they must think there is an acceptable answer and other answers will be looked down upon.
It started out as, “So, what do you do all day?” Then, as each of my kids advanced to the next level of preschool, it would repeatedly, inevitably be, “So, what are you going to do with all that extra time?” And now, the big one. As the time approaches that all my kids will finally be in school all day, it has ultimately become the pointed, “So, what are you going to do next year?”
I have felt my fair share of guilt over being a SAHM. On the days (weeks) when I failed to get any laundry done and had nothing to offer for dinner, I have often thought about how many working moms manage to do all that and pull in a paycheck for their family. There have been so many days that I have barely held it together. Days of having a 2-year-old and infant twins. Days of having twin 2-year-olds and a preschooler. Days, weeks, years of terrible twos and threes and fours when, let’s be honest, many times I collapsed on the floor in tears because it was just so hard. What do I do with my time? Are you kidding me?! How does anyone else possibly get it all done with a mere 24 hours in a day?
But, it has gotten easier as the kids have gotten older. Though, as it has gotten easier and as the question has morphed over time, so have my feelings — guilt, inadequacy, inferiority, embarrassment.
After years of fielding these questions, I actually began to have great anxiety when I started being asked the big one, when it seemed that everyone wanted to know about next year. “So, what are you going to do?” It evoked such uncertainty, anxiety, fear.