I'm fighting mad all because I met a lady in the elevator today who casually said, "You are so lucky you don't work." Why do people assume that if you don't get paid, you don't work? This is a comment that has bugged me forever!!
When I was a stay-at-home mom I worked my tail off, as every mother does. I was lucky that I had the choice of 2 paychecks or 1, but we chose to go without some things so I could do other things. I was continually asked to take other people's kids here or there, provide childcare, or get a child off to kindergarten because I didn't work. The insinuation was that I was probably bored out of my mind (if I had one) and I'd love to do all the extras for their kids, because they were busy with important, paycheck worthy enterprises.
I was happy to help out from time to time, but I was working, too. I was doing a summer school (for my own kids,) I was planning activities (for my own kids,) I was tutoring (my own kids.) When you don't get paid for it, somehow society sees it as less valuable. It seemed presumptuous of me to compare my stay-at-home activities to actually working. When other people organize activities for kids, tutor, or plan educational field trips, and get paid for it, it's called a job. They are working. Why, because it was for my own kids, was it somehow, "not working?"
Even now, because I don't work, I receive suggestions of things I could do for others who do. "I work, so I'm wondering if you could run my mother to the doctor." "You know, she works, and someone needs to take her car to be inspected." "Since you don't work, could you tend my kids while I work?" No acknowledgement that I may be working on something that is occupying my time, and is important to me.
Every day I am a writer, an on-call day-care provider, a bookkeeper and an editor. I don't get paid for any of these ventures, and I don't have a boss who has bestowed the titles on me. Can I say I am a designer? Or do I just "play around on the computer?" I often take the phone off the hook when I have something I'm working on. When I explained this to a woman who was trying to get hold of me, she said, "I've been searching all over for you and the whole time you were just sitting there paying bills?" Would she say that if I'd been doing the same thing, but being paid for it? Then I would be at working and she would expect me to be unavailable. Ironically, she was calling to ask if I'd be able to do some research for her, as a favor (since I don't work.)
We've traveled a lot. We've been "over the pond" (as a friend used to say) 25 different times to England and Europe, plus we've lived there. There's a lot we don't know, but there's a lot we do know from experience and study, and we know how to find the rest and who to trust for suggestions. We've never used a travel agent so we have learned how to research places, hotels, scenic drives, train schedules, etc., on our own. It's a natural expertise to have developed. Consequently, I have helped many people plan trips to places we're familiar with, and I love it when I'm asked.
A friend of mine was planning a trip to England, and I spent hours pouring over maps and books, and put together an itinerary for her, including hotel suggestions, restauants, addresses, phone numbers, emails, maps and more. It was fun and I got excited about the trip, as I always do. When she was thanking me, she said, "You know, you're good at this. You could do it." I responded, "I do do it!" She went on, "I mean, you could do it for real: you could get paid." (Dee suggested I send her a bill and have her as my first client.) Why doesn't it count because I do it for free? If you enjoy your work, isn't it still work?
It has always made me mad that a person is judged and valued by the amount of money they make. I know I'm ranting! I just want my work to be as valuable as work that is paid to be done. I don't want to have a job and a boss or a paycheck. I just want my work to be accepted as real WORK! I have to simmer down. After all, it was just an idle comment in the elevator. I don't think I need armed guards. I need to take a l-o-n-g, s-l-o-w deep breath. It wasn't personal...I know I shouldn't be so sensitive. I'll work on it.