‘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.