I got my 5 year reunion book for my college in the mail last week and I didn’t want to look at it. I can only imagine what my classmates have been up to: traveling the world, becoming doctors, arguing court cases, managing nonprofits, serving abroad in the Peace Corps, working on Wall Street, etc. When they sent me the request to create my page on what I’m doing now, it went straight in the trash because I didn't know what to write. I spend most my days at the lake reading while my dogs play, working out with one of my friends, and playing around on the computer. Oh, and I would have had to throw on the disclaimer “And I volunteer!” -- as if to demonstrate that I’m not always “wasting” time.
For me the hardest part of being a milspouse has been the idea that my career generally comes second. Like Jessica Lynn, I’ve often struggled with the stigma of being a stay at home wife -- but the judgment and lack of understanding don’t always come from third parties. Sometimes I’m the one wondering what I’m doing (...and cursing the Navy for sending us to Georgia).
I had big plans when I met my husband and I was ready to jump head first into them when I finished grad school. But when I paused to look at the reality of the situation, I realized that pursuing my goals would mean living away from my husband for the first few years of our marriage. Instead, I chose to put my goals on the backburner and just enjoy being married for a while. It was the right decision for us, even though it took me out of my job field for a few years.
So I thought back to my psychology classes and decided it wasn’t the situation I didn’t like – it’s the way I’ve chosen to frame the situation as "wasting time." And framing can be easily be changed.
So what am I doing now?
I’m a writer. I’ve been regularly writing a blog for a few years now and now I contribute here at SpouseBUZZ. For the past few months, I’ve been working on a novel I started writing when I was in college. I’m determined to finish it. And who knows – maybe when it’s finished, I’ll try to get it published!
I’m a baker. I have always loved baking and now in addition to cakes, cookies, and brownies, I’ve started baking our own bread, bagels, and tortillas. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at decorating cakes too!
I'm a counselor. Whether on blogs, Twitter, or for real real life friends, I'm there to listen to people vent their frustrations about the military life, offer advice about getting through deployments, commiserate about how infrequently we hear from our spouses while they're gone, or just cheer friends up when they're feeling lonely and overwhelmed.
I’m a dog trainer. My love of psychology and dogs has evolved into a love of dog training. I’ve got two dogs that I’m with pretty much all day every day, so it makes sense. I’m even considering getting formally trained and certified.
It may not be where I expected to be a few years ago, but I wouldn’t trade the past few years with my husband for any job in the world. I haven't been working in my field, but I’m doing real things that I love and have no reason to be embarrassed about.
If you're a stay at home spouse, how do you respond when people ask, “What do you do?”