So…what do you do?

I am at a party, I start talking with someone, we’re having a great time, to-ing and fro-ing. There’s a lull in the conversation. They eventually might ask ‘so what do you do?’.

I have trouble answering this question. Am I alone?

Convention might dictate that this is a perfectly acceptable question. It is part our effort to judge and categorize the people we meet. We extrapolate more information from a few plotted points in our perception of what is and isn’t in the world.

Most of us would probably admit that it’s unhelpful to label a person by what they happen to do for money. People are more than their jobs. Yet we do it all the time. And given there’s so much specialization in any given industry and role – OK I am thinking specifically in my area of web development, where there’s front end, back end, networks, user experience, interaction, information architecture.

I’ve enjoyed the luxury for a time during maternity leave (second time around) to step away from all of that, define myself in terms of being a mum.

Now, I have a hard time saying what I do. ¬†Currently I say “I am a Mum”, as it’s a find a way as any to define yourself by this role as any professional role.

Being a mum – It’s the finest, hardest, messiest, most challenging, most fun role I have ever had.

But now I will be asked¬†“What did you do before you were a Mum?” meaning…what did I do for money. Again.

What should I say?