In June, we moved to a new town. The past few months have been a whirlwind of meeting new people, especially moms of little kids because that’s my social circle now with a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old. I meet moms at swim lessons, moms at soccer practice, moms at kindergarten open house, moms in the neighborhood, moms at the park, moms at preschool. Moms, moms and more moms. I have to say I’ve met some supercool women. The town is full of smart, sociable, well-educated moms who like to have a good time and they’ve really welcomed me as the new kid on the block.
We plan to stay in this town for a long time and it feels good to be putting down roots. It’s likely that many of these new women I’m meeting will have a presence in my life for years to come. Our kids will go to school together, play sports together and grow from little kids, to preteens to teenagers together. So we’ll be bumping into one another a lot and maybe some of them will even become close friends. I’m building my village.
Conversation with these women flows really easily. Sure there’s the silly get to know-you chit chat at first when we introduce ourselves and our kids and maybe talk about the weather. In most cases, that passes quickly and we soon get to the point where it would seem natural to ask deeper questions. In this day of telecommuting, freelancing and high unemployment rates in an affluent town with a lot of stay-at-home moms, asking a woman if she “works” can feel like a loaded question. In no way would I want to suggest that moms without careers don’t “work.” I was a stay-at-home-mom for a short period and it kicked my ass! Would it be better to ask “Do you work out of the home?” Cringing. That won’t work. I technically don’t work OUT of the home. I work AT home for a large company. Plus I just think “work out of the home” is a dated phrase that conjures visions of an era of 1980’s power suits and shoulder pads (see below).
So what’s a more tactful way to ask a woman if she collects a paycheck? I like to know because I’m a curious person and no matter what a woman chooses to do (have a career or put it on hold for kids), I totally support her decision and in most cases can find something really admirable about her choice. Both choices require brains and hard work. If I want to have a real relationship with these women, knowing how she spends her days is of great interest to me. Plus, I like my job and I feel it’s a big part of who I am, so it’s nice to share that part of me with new friends.
So I’m looking to you, mamas, for some ideas. What do you think is a more modern way of asking about a woman’s work choices? Am I over-thinking it? Are there any alternatives to “do you work out of the home?”