Sometimes I still wonder what I should be whenever I get around to growing up.
It’s hard not to question what I am doing when I kiss my husband and preschoolers good bye. I sip coffee in my perpetually sticky kitchen, bounce my baby on my knee, and debate how I should spend my morning. I should fold laundry, but first that would necessitate washing it. I have a few work assignments I should stop putting off. It would be prudent to get a jumpstart on dinner, but frankly a workout sounds more enjoyable.
Invariably the baby then fusses, and I spend the rest of the morning in my rocking chair, awkwardly twisting my wrists to type on an iPad.
Around my thirtieth birthday, I finally settled on a profession. I should be a writer. It was, after all, what I had dreamed about becoming as a child. A handful of publications had featured my work, and it gave me something to do while my husband watched Game of Thrones and other shows I didn’t have the stomach for. I even eventually began to earn an income.
But still, the words choked in my throat every time I had to answer the “So, what do you do?” question. The vast majority of my time was still spent changing diapers and cooking dinners. To call myself a writer seemed to be a deceptive description of how I spent my time, but to commit another point of fraud as well. I wouldn’t be simply naming a profession, I would be claiming a talent – an act I wasn’t sure I had the right to do.
I asked a few writer friends when they thought someone could call themselves a writer. “Oh, instantly!” they all cheered. “As soon as you put pen to paper, you are a writer!” I appreciated their encouragement, but I knew it was just that. My ten year college reunion was nearing, and I imagined standing among my accomplished peers and trying to tell them I was a writer.
“Oh, I’m just staying at home with the kids!” flows out much more easily.
Recently, I lost one of my writing gigs. The website folded, taking a good chunk of my credibility along with it. I understood. Even the internet could only hold so many “I’m get my pants on just like any other mom, half an hour after getting out of the shower while begging my kids for just five minutes’ peace.”
I know I can’t write about parenting forever. There is a perpetual wealth of articles decrying “Mommy bloggers” for sharing about their children’s lives, and while the points are not without merit, I cannot help but notice it is this female dominated genre that takes the most heat. I have tried my hand at other areas of writing – health journalism, tax policy, a few failed attempts at children’s poetry, and even a science fiction short story which will never gain an audience larger than my husband.
This is what I hate about freelancing. I am perpetually wondering. “Am I doing this right? What am I doing? Should I keep this up, or move on? It is to forever be dating, without any hope for commitment.
Perhaps I should’ve grown up by now, and decided on a profession before I had children who have begun to tell me what they want to be when they grow up. Or perhaps this is the path I’m meant to be on, one of wandering without destination. After all, what else is writing but an account of the journey.