When my daughter Molly was younger, people would always ask her, “What do you do?”
What they wanted to know, of course, was which extracurricular activities she was involved in. Soccer? Dance? Piano? Tennis? Competitive tight-rope walking?
The answer? Until her fourth-grade year, nothing.
For a while, she went through a phase of weeding out what she didn’t want to do. Not surprisingly, this endeavor was largely based on what her older sister was interested in the time. Every now and then, on the way home from dropping Lilly off at some practice or class, I’d hear from the backseat:
“Do you have to play soccer?”
“Do you have to take ballet?”
“Do you have to sing solos in the first-grade musical?”
No, nope and most assuredly not!
If you ask me, knowing what you don’t want to do is just as important as knowing what you do—especially if you are a planner like Molly who tends to make big decisions only after lots of careful thought. (And I firmly believe my job as her mom is not to force her into things she doesn’t want to do, but rather, to let her discover her own interests at her own sweet pace.)
Now, though, I’m the one who’s getting the question. I realize “What do you do?” is a natural query for adults as well as children, but I’m not exactly sure how to answer it these days.
It’s not that I don’t know what I do. Homemaker, housewife, math tutor, writing coach, household engineer, bookkeeper, taxi driver, chief cook and laundry washer—it all applies, just as it has for quite a long time.
I love being a stay-at-home mom, but now that my girls are getting older, I’m actively investigating what might be next for me, professionally. In the last year or so, I’ve added blogging to my mix of ongoing activities and resumed a bit of editing. But I’m still in somewhat of a nebulous in-between phase when it comes to regular work that results in actual income.
In today’s marketplace, finding freelance writing or editing work is not an overnight process. It’s not only what you know, it’s who. It’s not necessarily where you look, but when.
As a result, it’s easy to get discouraged, to convince myself that there’s no way I’ll ever get much work in my field so I might as well just start applying for checker jobs at the local big box retail store.
Then again, I’ve logged enough hours in God’s waiting room over the years to understand that things happen when the timing is right, which often is when I least expect it.
So I’m not rushing into anything. I’m not knocking on every door I see. A few months ago, I made a list and I’ve been working my way through it, slowly and methodically. When an opportunity pops up or an idea begins to germinate, I take the next step and wait. If nothing happens, I move on to the next thing.
I’m trying to do my part while trusting that God will send the work I need to do, when I need to do it. There’s a lot of peace in that, even though it doesn’t make for a flashy answer when someone asks me what I do.
For her part, Molly now welcomes the opportunity to try new things. She signed up for math club. She’s in special chorus. She’s even playing the clarinet in the fifth-grade band. (This, after stating for years that she wanted to play the violin because she was sure that blowing on a wind instrument would make her dizzy.)
She sampled a tap-dancing class just the other week, but left the building with the firm conviction that this form of movement was too loud for her. (I could have told her that before she went in, but sometimes we have to find things out for ourselves when we are almost 11.)
It’s too early to tell if any of these activities will become her main “thing” as she gets older. Maybe none of them will. But she’s trying and growing and stretching, because the time is right for her to do that.
And because the time is right, I don’t have to push things on her. I just get to sit back and watch the beauty unfold.
P.S. Way to Go, Royals!!!