The sad truth in junior high was that if you didn’t have breasts by junior high, you were likely not going to have much BREAST to speak of, not then, not in high school, not ever. Sigh, oh well. At least I have milk engorgement to look forward to.
I’ve been thinking a lot about legitimacy, lately. What is it that makes us feel legitimate in what we’re doing? Do we legitimize ourselves by being confidant in what we do? Do others legitimize us through accolades?
I’ve realized that nothing takes the wind out of my sails like someone asking me, “So, will you go back to teaching at some point?”
Not only does this make me feel like stay-at-home-motherhood is not really accomplishing anything, just a temporary holding pattern, a hobby or an extended vacation, but it also (and maybe more painfully) points out that “being a writer” is equally as illegitimate a life path or career, even ‘job’ seems too powerful a word to tack onto motherhood or writing.
Is writing, like being a stay at home mom, viewed as some kind of extended vacation? I guess I can’t blame people. Anyone can call themselves a writer the minute they pick up a pen; it’s like saying your major is psychology. Yeah, isn’t everybody’s? So what legitimizes a writer? Is it being published? Is it making money writing? Writing a best seller? Writing Harry Potter? There aren’t any hard and fast rules.
So what can I expect? People want to know if I will ever go back to my credible, if lowly position as a teacher. When I first chose to be a teacher it was because I liked the idea of being my own boss. No seriously, I really thought that I would have the freedom to teach by methods that worked for me and my class, to shape the curriculum based on student ability and interest, to implement authentic learning strategies. My education in education made the prospect of teaching look powerful and wonderful.
Unfortunately substitute teaching was more like secretarial work with thirty, rowdy, underfed, over-sugared, children running in circles around my desk. I became disenchanted very quickly.
But more than a replacement for the ill fit that was teaching, writing is what I need to do. I know that more clearly than I’ve known much of anything in my life. Maybe it’s a calling or simply a path that I’ve stumbled on to, chosen, or that has chosen me, which I am now perpetually and irreversibly on.
For better or worse, for richer or poorer, for legitimacy or illegitimacy, I have to be a writer.