Along with the outrageous hours he works and the family un-friendly travel he has, my husband also has to drag me along to a number of a functions. It is basically the same night out, different dress, slightly different menu, same conversation, same people time after time after time.
I smile, I nod I say things like "oh so wonderful to see you again" "How is little Max liking Cranbrook?" "I heard you sold the Palm Beach house, how fabulous!" and occasionally I accept a glass of champagne instead of orange juice and occasionally I forget my corporate-wife hat and accidentally say something negative. I'm not chipper and I'm not cheesy so while I can hold a fake smile for an impressive length of time I'm not so good with the fake chipper talk.
Last year when the GFC hysteria had really taken hold we were at a rather glittery corporate function. Tinker had been tricky that day and I'd forgotten to have lunch so by the time I arrived I was starving. Of course canapes were tiny and champagne was flowing. After maybe two glasses of champagne Mr Elderly I'm Worth About A Gazillion Dollars strolls up to our little group. He launches into this impromptu pep talk about putting clients first in this state of flux and no matter what happens you need to get yourselves out there and make sacrifices for the firm.
For a split second I was back at work. I was the young female solicitor in the room full of old male barristers and I'd forgotten my corporate -wife hat again. I was back to being the loud opinionated one and before I knew it I had interrupted Mr Moneybags with "well that's all fine and good if you haven't been fired isn't it?"
My husband gulped, the other wives froze and Mr Money blinked twice, clenched his jaw slightly and being the polished banker that he is, continued his speech as though I wasn't there and I hadn't spoken. Once he'd finished talking the others dissipated so it was just me, my empty glass and my husband standing there. "Oh was that bad darling? I just thought in light of half the team being sacked right before Christmas and with many of us unable to keep our houses I might just say something..." I can't remember what his reply was, but I was on my best behaviour after that.
For the rest of the night I did a fair bit of smiling and nodding and for a change whenever anyone asked me "so what do you do?" I just gave them the answer that would stop further conversation. I'd answer: "Oh I'm at home, we have a little baby girl". Normally I'm quick to follow up with "but I was a lawyer..."
Why? Why am I so quick to defend a role I was always so looking forward to having? A role I actually really really love? A role I genuinely prefer to my "proper" professional job... It is strange isn't it? What do you say when people ask you what you do? Are you proud, embarrassed or a bit of both?
The type of job my husband has makes it hard for both of us to work. If we did, unless I had the type of job where my hours were fixed, then I'm not sure we'd ever actually see each other. We would probably end up being weekend parents and while it works beautifully for a lot of families, it just isn't the answer for our little family. I have always wanted to be a full time mum and wife and despite what people assume, I did love my professional job as well. I just love this more. Really. Most people raise their eyebrows when I say that. They assume my job was awful or maybe I'm not truthful. I have absolutely no reason to lie at all. I loved it, but I love this more. I really really do. I don't even miss my job. I think of it fondly but I have never wanted to swap back.
Often people remark that I wasted my education, all that time and money on law school and all the training I had to do on the job. I don't agree. My studies, my work experience and my outlook make me the person I am today. The wife I am and the mother that I am. So to those people, I say thanks but no thanks. I've wasted nothing and gained more than I could have ever imagined. Is it so hard to believe? Very few people seem to accept my take on this. What are your thoughts?