The Dealer

picture of a hand holding a pen, hovering over a form (paperwork) and the words "and what do you do?" overlaid.

“And… what do you do?”  The Financial Planner was filling in the forms. We have been thinking it is time to get serious about our finances for years and now we finally are. The guy had already discussed my husband’s occupation.  Much head nodding and respect. And now it was my turn. The field for my occupation was empty, his pen hovering over the space.  I hesitated, and he filled the awkward pause with a mumble about how being a full time housewife is job in itself. I hadn’t said anything yet. I never use that term to explain what I do. Never have. I’ve always put my profession in the box.  Wife is my marital moniker.  Not my profession.

My profession has just slipped out of my grasp.
Teaching. Being sick, I haven’t been able to do the required number of hours in the classroom to maintain my teacher registration. So now, I can’t even say “I’m a teacher”.  I know I am bleating, but it is one of those owies that still stings.  I have the qualifications, the experience, the boxes of treasured thank you notes from my students, a cupboard in the garage that holds the last vestiges of my classroom souvenirs.  According to our registration board, it is not possible to teach well if you have been out of the classroom for as long as I have.  Except that I never really left it. I’ve been relieving and doing part time roles wherever I can during that time.  It’s just not ‘enough’.  I would need to do spend thousands of dollars I don’t have to re-train; if I want to use that degree of mine ever again. Relief teaching was a flexible and chronic-illness-friendly way, for me to contribute to to our income and to society. I worked when I could. It is such a shame that this is now out of my reach.  I miss it.

I looked at that financial planner and searched my brain for something he could put in his box. I explained that I can’t teach at present, but I do write.  That my income is small, and comes from bits of writing I do for various places and the board from our two home-stay students. I didn’t tell him that I am a full time housewife because I am not. If I were, I might not have needed to brush the crumbs away from the table before he sat down with his folders, papers and questions.

He wrote ‘housewife’.  I imagined he thought ‘…and not a very good one’.

I wondered why that question and his answer made me feel so bristly; why I feel shame about not being able to list my profession. I thought about all the lofty housewifely achievements I don’t manage and felt guilty about the state of my home.  I felt that sinkish feeling you get, watching the well world go about it’s business and wishing you had the words to explain just how much hard work it is, dealing with being sick. Dealing with being sick and all the expectations from self and others. Dealing with being sick and losing your sense of purpose, your profession, your image, your income, the defining characteristics of your well self.

The things that make you feel good about yourself.  It can leave you feeling a bit shit.

What do I do?

I deal.
Put Dealer in that box, Mister.

The Dealer, dealer, deal, deal with, make a deal, deal with it.  Dealer.  The Dealer.

9 thoughts on “The Dealer”

  1. Oh Rachel, there’s no shame in being “just a housewife”. Bringing up the next generation is really important and you are excelling at that. Also there’s no shame in saying “I have a chronic illness that prevents me working at my chosen profession”. Looking after a home, the hubster, caring for 4 children, caring for sick in-laws, writing for a cause and running a blog site is a full time job anyway and you are doing superbly well in the circumstances. Never, never, never feel you have to apologise or feel bad about what you do or don’t do. You are one amazing lady 😊😊

    1. Thanks Carol. I don’t feel like that is my occupation though. It’s my role in the home; mothering. Contributing to the workings of the household… but ‘occupation’ always feels like it needs to be income deriving. For me, anyway!

  2. Hi Rachel
    I agree with Carol.
    There is nothing better in a child,s life than having someone who ‘cares’ for them. I don’t just mean meals etc but you genuinely care and give time to them.
    As Steven Whoever from the Warehouse says
    ‘The best gift you give your kids is your time.’
    Enjoy them

    Love S

  3. I SO understand how you feel when filling in forms asking for your occupation. I also lost my ‘profession’ with my illness and because of my age have been unable to get back into the work force. It burns me up and so I tend to write retired…. and that is meant to be an occupation!!! I LOVE YOU

  4. Hi Rach, that post really resinated with me….it was nice to know that others can have the same feelings as me. I didn’t loose my job to illness (but came close when first diagnosed with a chronic illness some 20 years ago), but my job went through circumstance….my partners job overseas has meant that the place we reside in now does not issue work permits easily. You have to be able to prove that a local born and bred resident can’t do the job you are applying for and currently the Government are very, very strict about who they issue work permits too. (as its such a small island) So he has one due to the nature and speciality of his work, but I can’t get one. With this you end up having what identifies you taken away. I am shocked at myself at how much I identified my purpose, my pride, my abilities, my voice, with what I did as profession. When we go to a social engagement its frightening how much you can feel invisible as a person. I have often said to a close girlfriend of mine that I used to do a job where people made there decisions based sometimes on my decision, where I had a voice as part of a wider team, where I was able to mentor others and myself be mentored by those with more experience – where I felt that I contributed to our fabric of society. I guess like you I am trying to find my voice again via my blog and you yours. I truly think though Rachel you should feel proud to think of yourself as a writer, to list your profession as a writer….you are exactly that to many of us. You are a writer, an orator and a publisher of things. That is something to be extremely proud of. Though I understand that it takes time to build and grow into that new profession and feel like you own it. But from where I sit I think you truly do!! XX

    1. Wow, thanks so much Nat. That is really lovely. 🙂 How do you answer the question when people ask you? I guess your circumstances are obvious to all the expat families, because they have the same thing happening. Not the chronic illness, but the work visa thing.
      Your blog is my window on the world. I love reading about your perspective on things. X

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