Every once in a while when I meet someone new, I get asked that question: "So, do you work outside the home?"
How, exactly, am I supposed to answer that? It's usually delivered in an awkward, trying-not-to-be-condescending-or-judgmental tone that catches me off guard. Some of the people who ask me are hoping to hear one answer; others are probably preparing to be offended at the other.
Technically, I guess the answer is no. I don't "work" "outside" "the home." But is the fact that I work inside the home assumed in the question, since I have a 2.5-year-old to take care of? I'm not sure.
All this is complicated by the fact that I have a work-from-home job. I get a paycheck and everything. But that's not what that "do you work outside the home" question is asking, so how do I bring it up? I know what people are really trying to ask is, "So, do you do anything besides be a mom?"
The answer to that question is definitely "yes." For about seven months now, I've been working as a lexicographer for a certain, um, huge, non-American dictionary entity that shall remain unnamed. In short, I edit the dictionary. Seriously! You've always wondered who did that, and now you know.
It's basically my dream job, because it's in my field (I have a BA in Linguistics), the work is interesting, the hours are completely flexible, the pay is awesome, I work from home on an online database, and my bosses are all the way across the ocean. It's fantastic!
However, there's a reason the acronym WAHM still includes that "M" at the end. Even when I'm working, I still have to be a mom. And shortly after I started this job, Miriam gave up her nap. So you can imagine why it sometimes takes 2 or 3 hours to get 1 hour of work on the clock. It seems like as soon as I get into my dictionary-editing groove, I hear "Mama, I spilled!" or "Mama, I need a little snack!" coming from the living room. So I pause the clock (the Online Stopwatch is a wonderful thing), take care of her needs, re-start the clock, and once again try to focus on the five main senses of "over" as a preposition, and their collective eleven subsenses.
So far, I've worked in B, F, M, and O, and I've managed to avoid any swear words - though I did have to edit "ovariotomy," which wasn't the most comfortable thing I've ever done.
I'd tell you all more interesting stories about my work, but I have Miriam at my knee, almost literally crying for my attention. Your homework assignment: find the perfect answer to that awkward "do you work outside the home" question!