By Heather O.
DH and I went out to dinner the other night. I know, wonder of wonders, but we managed it. We went to dinner with 2 other couples who are loosely connected with DH’s work, and we didn’t know them very well. Actually, I didn’t know them at all, and DH had met them all only briefly in the past. It was a “get to know you” kind of meal, which is always a bit of a crap shoot, if you ask me. I mean, what if you get to know each other and find out right away that you have nothing in common, and actually can’t stand each other? That kind of stuff makes you feel like dessert is a long time coming.
In this case, everybody was fairly pleasant and easygoing, but I did discover something very rapidly:
I was the only non lawyer at the table.
Now, when you are married to a lawyer, this happens, unfortunately, quite frequently. I’m usually the only nonlawyer at these kinds of things, as well as the only mom. However, the other night, this was not the case. The other 2 women were mothers too, but worked, full time, as lawyers.
So, when the inevitable question came, the “And what do you do, Heather?”, this time put to me by a new mom who had just gone off about how hard it is to find good day care, I coudn’t do it. I couldn’t look her in the eye and say, “I’m a stay at home mom”. I knew the minute I did, it would shut down all conversation, all relationship building, all pretense of easy going-ness, and tension would fill the room. So I just said, “I’m a speech therapist”. There was the obligatory, “Oh, that’s interesting,” the pause as she tried to figure out what that meant, the smile, and the change of subject when she decided she didn’t know what it meant and didn’t really care to invest the conversational energy to find out. And that was fine–I was more willing to take the indifference I knew was coming rather than the coating of ice I knew would cover the rest of evening if I revealed the truth.
Interestingly, when I have been in this situation at a table dominated by men or older career women, I don’t have a problem saying, “I’m a mom who works perdiem as a speech therapist”, or “I’m at home with my son, and work occasionally.” Somehow, when a man asks me what I do, I feel proud to say that I’m a mom. I know that he doesn’t feel threatened by what I do, and the conversation can still continue on amicable terms. But the other night, when asked by a woman my age who works VERY full time with a 2 year old in day care because the nanny just didn’t work out, I had a harder time telling her about my life in the same terms, just because I knew (or imagined) that she would feel threatened, and the conversation and relationship would then progress on a less amicable level.
I could be, perhaps, reading into the situation far more than was really there. When it comes down to it, she may not have cared about me enough at all to feel threatened by anything about me, much less threatened by who takes care of my kid. But I still felt that I couldn’t tell her that I am, for the most part, a SAHM. Sad, but true.
Anybody else have similar experiences? Anyody else feel the differences between talking to men about Stay-At-Home momhood vs. women?
Dessert, by the way, was delicious. Chocoloate creme broulee(sp?), a.k.a death by chocolate. Yum!
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