by Ann Van De Water
My college alumnae directory editor has contacted me through postcards and email three times to update my personal information. I filled out most of the form, but have not finished. What’s holding me back? I am trying to come up with something better than “homemaker,” which is what I put down 7 years ago. Many of my alumnae friends have descriptions like “editor at…” (name your magazine, publishing company, etc.), investment banker, neuroscientist, theatre director, physician, professor, etc.
“Homemaker” seems so 1950s when compared to the the above job descriptions.
“Housewife” or “hausfrau” seems even worse. I am not married to my house, although there are days where it seems like I am.
“Domestic servant” seems a little harsh.
“Community organizer” does define some of what I do as well and sound professional. It covers my roles as Girl Scout troop leader and book club starter-upper. It’s the same description Obama used, so maybe that’s the right choice. Or the left choice.
“Grass roots volunteer” sounds rather earthy, but does include my work at my kids’ school, our church, and library.
“Domestic goddess” is a rather lovely term I recently came across, but Charlie Sheen has now ruined the term “goddess” for me.
Then I remembered another term I could use.
Ten years ago my husband and I attended a very fancy wedding for his college roommate. He and his new bride were Manhattanites who were living a very upscale life. They went to the opera, held positions on boards, etc. I felt a little out of my element. (To top it off, I was pregnant with twins and at the end of my first trimester, in that pregnancy limbo where I looked fat, but was not ready to share our news yet. I spent a good bit of the night getting sick in the restroom, completely embarrassed as the groom’s mother tried to help me, wondering if she might think I had had too much to drink. I told her I was pregnant and she was very sweet and helpful.)
Anyhoo, later when I had somewhat recovered, I asked the bride if her sister-in-law, also of Manhattan, was teaching, as I knew she had recently finished her teaching credential. She told me, “No, she’s doing a lot of Philanthropy.”
I told my husband I thought this was such a funny way to describe this particular young woman who was “just a volunteer” at a museum and for a children’s association. He told me I could call myself a Philanthropist if I wanted as it was just a high-falutin term for volunteer.
However, that just doesn’t seem quite right either. I’m sticking with “homemaker.”
Here’s a little ditty to go along with the title.
Sung to the the tune of the Pat Benatar song “Heartbreaker.”
“I’m a lunch maker,
That’s the job description for me!”