Not being one for labels, the question What do you do? frequently leaves me like a startled rabbit, caught in the headlights.
At such times, I envy my son. I’m not sure, he’d say. How am I supposed to know?
And he’d get away with it. Some people (grandparents mainly) smile wryly at whatever approximation of speech emerges from under the hoodie. Nonchalant, they say. Even those less well-disposed to the rolling eyes and accompanying sighs feign understanding. He’s a teenager, they say, as if that explains everything.
But, in a way, it kind of does.
At fourteen, you’re bursting with hormones and potential. You’re a bit like a duckling or a seed potato. You may have more spots than Pudsey and the social skills of Dominic Cummings, but none of that matters. Because one day, you’ll grow up. And then you’ll be awesome.
At forty plus though, like me, you’re half-way through your life. You’re the other side of grown up, and awesome has yet to happen. Worse, you still haven’t worked out if you’re a swan or a sack of King Edwards.
And, if that’s the case, you probably also struggle with questions like what do you do?
Saying you don’t know though isn’t going to hack it. People won’t see you as some charming ingénue. They’ll just think you’re weird or start speculating about early onset dementia.
You’re no longer a teenager, remember. So, no smart Alec references to defecation or your respiratory system either. Generally, people who ask this question don’t want to know what you do on a daily basis, even the non-bodily function stuff. They don’t care about how you juggle the school run with a series of freelance gigs, the hours you spend sterilising your son’s medical equipment or hand-feeding an orphan chick.
No. What they really want is a label, a way to explain you. And, like most successful brands, in an age of diminishing attention spans, it’s got to be short.
I don’t know if that’s you. Or if you’re looking for something deeper. But it’s always good to have an elevator pitch ready, I guess. So, here goes.
I’m a lawyer and a writer. That’s the “day job” and you can read more about that here.
I’m a mother [to a teenager – you may have guessed.]
And much more besides; chicken-keeper, book-lover, aspiring novelist, baker, coffee-addict, trainee counsellor, Francophile, technophobe.
I could write a list, but it would almost certainly fail the brevity test.
So, let’s just say I’m a work in progress.
And I’m still holding out for awesome.