Funny, but to this day I still write "SAHM" on intake paperwork at doctor's offices and such, even though I now have two paying jobs plus the gig of Mom. It's just kind of easier to say. Plus, it's all the same phone number, and not enough space to explain, so "stay at home mom" works. No one asks questions. And I don't make much money, anyway, so they won't be coming to me as "Party Responsible for Payment."
At social parties when people ask what I do, I start out by saying I'm a preschool teacher. And that's true. Mostly. I work in Kids Day Out and am paid as a "caregiver" ...but I prefer to say "teacher" because that sounds more significant and meaningful, and because I believe our work in the classroom is not only a job of providing care - changing diapers, etc., but one of teaching, as well. "We use a chair for sitting, not for hitting." "Crayons are for paper, not to poke in noses or to color on walls." That kind of thing. I work with my best friend, and I get paid to kiss on 2 year-olds all day - my favorite age to teach, so it's a double win.
I go on to tell attentive party listeners that my second job is a bit more "convoluted" and difficult to explain. Knowing they are enraptured at this point, I continue. "I am a parent actor at the children's hospital where I play the role of mom at the bedside in their simulation department. They recreate medical scenarios like code situations using a robot baby and real doctors and nurses, and I pretend to be the robot baby's momma. I actually run their family actors program."
|one of my family actors comforting our SimBaby before our scenario begins|
I never know if I've lost my audience by then or not. OK, usually I have. But if they were to understand, or if perhaps I was better at my delivery, I would tell them how incredible the Family Actors Program is, how much fun I am having this year leading it. I would tell them about the incredible team I work with and how we are affecting important change in the lives of 100s of medical students and professionals who may one day be better prepared to compassionately interact with and save the life of one our loved ones because of the moments they spend pretending with me and my team. That's good stuff. That's important work.
It's groundbreaking, really, as most hospitals - if they have simulations at all - use paid actors or other staff to stand in as parents. We are real family members who are invested in the hospital because we take our children there. Over and over we hear from staff how having us there makes the scenario far more realistic as they practice, and that's because we *are* real. We are being ourselves.
That's what I did today. I raised my babies, taught others' babies, and changed lives for babies. All in a pretty darn good day's work.