Friday, November 14, 2014

Une Crise d'Identite

And so it has happened again. I was sitting is French class this past week struggling to comprehend the lesson. We were discussing numbers, specifically those between seventy and one hundred which, for some reason only understandable to the French, means there is a difference in the way these numbers are said in French-French and Belgian-French. Its enough to make my head spin. So I was essentially doing math, in French, on a morning with less than a cup of coffee flowing through my system. My brain hurt before it was done and I let out an audible sigh of relief when we moved onto the next lesson. Until I realized that the lesson in question was one of professions. As in, how do I ask someone what their profession is and how would I answer that question myself. Yuck; I almost wished we could return to the numbers lesson because I knew what was coming next.

Sure enough, the question of "what is your profession" was posed to the class. I was the second one to respond. As I listened to my classmate tell the instructor that she was a kindergarten teacher, I thought about what my response should be. I've had many "professions" in the past with the titles of supervisor, program manager and planner being in the forefront. But this question wasn't one of what I used to do rather since it was posed in the present tense it meant what do I do now. Student of French, blogger, experimental cook, aspiring painter? But these aren't professions for me, rather they are the hobbies I dabble in when I have the time. So how do I spend my time? When it was my turn to explain my profession to the class I said I was the family chauffeur, cook and organizer. My response was met with a blank look from my instructor who then said oh, I was a "femme au foyer". I nodded and felt a little better when the next student said she was also a femme au foyer. But the following students all stated that their professions were actual careers; pharmacist assistants, teachers, professors and the list goes on.  I simply sat in my chair and thought about the question and my answer.

I've joked that this is what I am and I've even blogged about it. But it is one thing to talk about it rather anonymously and another to say it out loud to a roomful of people. I stewed about this for the rest of the day. While I was having coffee with a fellow "femme au foyer" after class we dissected the issue. Later while taking Sidney to lunch with a few of his classmates the topic weighed heavily on my mind. While picking up last minute birthday gift for a weekend party, sitting patiently waiting for our delayed appointment with the pediatrician and shopping for ingredients for dinner I continued to think about it. As I kicked the soccer ball around with Sidney in the dusk while we waited for his father to get out of work I told myself I was content with my title of femme au foyer. But the truth is, not matter how much I try, I'm simply not.

I totally appreciate the fact that I have the flexibility to take Sidney to last minute play dates, to cook complex dinners in the middle of the week if I choose to or to sit for hours in the doctor's office without having to worry about being late getting to work. And when my son wants to play soccer after school? Not only can I take him to his practices but I can join him in impromptu ones when the opportunity strikes. The freedom is wonderful and I know I am lucky. But it just isn't enough. Sure I fill my spare hours with leisure activities and hobbies I had only hoped to have the time for when I was working full time but to be honest, I miss the grind and routine of working in an office. I miss the responsibility and the accolades that came with successes. Somehow putting a tedious project to bed ahead of the deadline just sounds like more of an accomplishment than baking dozens of cupcakes for the class party, finding the long lost toy or completing a to-do list that had me on the go all day long.

These are my issues with which I continue to struggle. Most days I am content with the situation but that might just be because I am too busy to think about or question them. But every so often that nagging question gets posed and it starts me thinking all over again. It doesn't matter what language it is asked in; my response remains the same. I need to learn to wear the title of "femme au foyer" proudly. I'm trying, really I am.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate your honesty in this post, Zosia! You have done a great job of mentioning the the details of being a "femme au foyer" as well the "grind and routine of working in an office". Keep up the good work.