‘So, what do you do?’
This is a question I get asked all the time, and although it’s nearly been two years, I’m still embarrassed by it
Yesterday I agreed to do an interview with an undergraduate studying for her final year in Psychology in DCU. She was a lovely girl, ambitious, and easy to talk to. She reminded me of myself in my younger days.
She wanted to examine the factors that influence or hinder people with disabilities in accessing employment. I knew it would be a little cringey; I’m ten years older than her, practically a relic, and I’ve voluntarily thrown myself back down the career ladder (not that I was far up to begin with, but anyway).
She asked me if I’m actively looking for work, and I said yes. (Three rejection letters this month alone, in fact). I know what kind of angle she was looking for: my employer’s premises wasn’t accessible, I needed extra technological accommodations, I would become fatigued if I had to work full-time (there’s an element of truth to all of these). But these were not my sole reasons for not looking for work.
Puzzled by the end of the interview, my companion asked me again, ‘So, is there anything else I need to know? Like what do you do in your spare time?’
I shrugged. ‘I’m pretty active in the Independent Living Movement,’ I said, then I lowered my voice, as if I was divulging a dirty secret. ‘I’m also trying to write a novel.’
My companion perked up. ‘You what?’ she stammered.
‘I’m working on a novel. I don’t know how it will turn out, but it’s taking up a good deal of time at the moment.’
My companion shook her head. ‘Fair play. That sounds like a lot of work.’
‘Well, it’s certainly not as easy as I thought it’d be when I started it!’ She laughed, and I relaxed.
I think nowadays as mothers, a lot of us feel pressure to prove that we can do and be it all. I’ve been at home with Alison for two years, and working on my writing in this time. This way I can have the best of both worlds. I can work as much or as little as I am able. I’m pretty happy, but still wary of how people perceive my choice to do this.
And to be honest, I don’t know why I care. For now, I’m doing something that is working out well for me and my family.
I don’t know if this will work out, if my novel will ever get published or if writing will ever be the career I’d imagined it to be.
But for now, I am a writer, and a mother, and delighted to be able to do both.
I agree with you so much Sarah. I hate the notion in today’s world that we have to justify our life choices to others….and often strangers at that! Even when the children were babies I hated that people felt they could tell me I wasn’t doing the right thing if I didn’t follow a strict regime. My answer then is the same as now….whatever works for me is fine. It’s the same with a career…..what works for you and your family is fine and shouldn’t be questioned by others. I can’t wait for the novel.
Thanks Maria for your encouragement and kind words!
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And you do both very well! Please don’t stop writing your short stories and articles. Take your inspiration from JP, Alison & the many experiences in your life! 😘
Aw, thanks for getting in touch D! Hope all is well with you xxx
Well done Sarah! You have achieved and accomplished so much. You’re a true inspiration to every woman and mother out there. Keep doing what makes you happy. I genuinely don’t see why others “must” have an opinion on the ways others do things. Can’t wait for the novel!
Thank you for replying Bronagh! Good to know that people out there are reading this x