Scary stories from a lovely place
For the last 3 and a half years I have been pursuing a very uncool career. It’s taken me almost that entire time to know how to explain my job. Officially my title is ‘staffworker’ but even that as a word makes no logical sense, and gives very little away as to what I actually do. “You’re on staff? Of what?” “You’re a worker? For who?” Good questions. Various explanations I’ve toyed with over the years include “I work with the SRC at the university” or “I’m kind of a life adviser for students”. But, truth be told, both of these are pretty much a lie.
The explanation I have settled on for now is “I work with one of the Christian student groups that meet at the university”. This is also fairly vague and doesn’t sound like a real job. More detail would include, “I help the student committee run the group, and I do some bible teaching with individuals and small groups”. Depending on how self-deprecating I’m feeling, I may also throw in “it’s a pretty sweet job. I basically have a student’s life but I don’t have to study or write exams”. And this is true. The other up side is that I don’t own a real adult’s wardrobe, my clothes all have a distinctly student air about them. And I don’t earn a taxable income so I don’t have to worry about a tax return.
The down side though is that I have never really ‘made it’ as a real adult. I’m good at talking about career choice, relationships, studying etc, but not real adult problems like investments, superannuation or staff reviews. I don’t know much about the grind of 9-5 or conference meetings or clients. I go on business trips, but I stay at youth campsites in bunk beds and go abseiling rather than to nice hotels with buffet breakfast.
As well as dealing with these realities, my job generally solicits either a confused or negative reaction. I would love to have a job like my husband’s and be able to answer the question “what do you do” with “I’m an architect”. Shazzam! What an answer. Probably only an engineer would be unimpressed with that. At least being married to Stephen I am able to answer “what does your husband do” with “he’s an architect” and feel something of the internal warmth that people with real jobs experience in social situations. Never mind the long hours, scattering of unfinished drawings and myriad tape measures around the house and in my car, it’s still a cool job.
Excitedly, and nervously, I am about to begin a new career, while my previous one moves to the side for the moment. And that is of motherhood and housewifery. I’ve always wanted to be a housewife and feel quite a fantasism when I read housewifey blogs. These are often generally homeschooly and ultra-conservative christian blogs, so I don’t allow the fantasy to linger in the air for too long. I like to cook from scratch (today I made bread and pastry from raw materials), knit, sew, garden and I occasionally get a hankering for a G+T around 11 am. But the angst remains. It still doesn’t feel like a real job. I don’t want to get into the whole debate about the value of building a home and how we mustn’t find our value in our career or pay cheque. I know those things to be true. But society and my own warped desires nag at my mind and make me feel guilty for not doing enough.
In a month maybe I’ll have worked this out more. Perhaps though housewifery is slightly cooler than student ministry, it’s sort of anti-establishment in a bourgeois way. At least Stephen respects my career choice – and he gets delicious food everyday.