So said a mum from school to me on Monday, as we were waiting for our girls to go in to their ballet and tap lesson. I don't know her that well, but I'd like to get to know her better. We sat together on a coach for an hour last autumn, when we were both helping on a school trip to Skipton Castle, and we chatted. She was really interested in what I told her about the crafting I did, about my role as a stay at home mum, and I asked her about her job (a translator) and what her childhood in Poland was like. We talked about books - she told me she prefers to read in English or Polish "Except for Dostoevsky, which must be read in Russian to be fully appreciated. All the translations are terrible." I nodded, not having the heart to tell her I'd never read Dostoevsky in any language. She is funny, interesting and irreverent. Anyway, we were catching up on Monday and she was asking me what I was up to (the same), was I still volunteering in school (yes), did John have a job yet (yes), had I started my online crafting empire yet (no), and she smiled and said "I bet you're never bored, are you - intelligent people don't get bored". I laughed and said "I'll remember that next time someone asks me what I do all day!"
Because, the thing is, since Angus started school in September, I occasionally feel the need to justify quite what it is that I do do all day long. A recent conversation with a different parent at school unsettled me. She asked me about what I did, if I worked. When I told her I was at home full time, she said "But don't you get bored?" There was no judgement in her voice, just curiosity, but she's not the first person to ask me how I fill my hours. I floundered, unprepared, and muttered something about always seeming to be busy.
My life has never felt so full, so rich. On Monday I did some gardening, went to the supermarket, did chores, baked and decoated two dozen cupcakes for charity, spent the afternoon in school, went from school to ballet, then out for tea to celebrate Angus's birthday, then home for bath and bed. Tuesday: Errands, queuing in the post office, a pile of ironing while I listened to Woman's Hour, in school again in the afternoon, then home with Bella and her friend for tea, then to music classes, then home again for bath and bed. Today: into town first thing for sweets to decorate the cake, bake two cakes, clean the bathroom. I'm writing this now while the second cake is in the oven. This afternoon I'll ice it (and try and make it look like a dinosaur) then after the school run it's Angus's birthday party, then home, then take Bella to Brownies, then I'm supposed to be meeting friends for a drink later tonight.
This is not a "look how busy I am" parade - I'm sure your days are just as full - but honestly, where is there space for boredom here? Perhaps people mean the lack of mental stimulation? I have Radio 4 on constantly, I find that interesting enough. My work in school, the books I read, my blogging, my friendships and my marriage satisfy my need for challenging, stimulating adult conversation and company. I don't feel like my brain is rotting in front of daytime tv. (Incidentally, I never turn the tv on in the day, it reminds me too much of feeding babies, of slumping in front of something at nap time when I was so tired I could barely function.) Creatively, I am always engaged, always making or planning or thinking about something or other. I fall asleep at night thinking about crafting projects.
So, what do I do all day? I work in a role I love, a role which centres around my family and our home. I am creative. I make things. I am a volunteer. I like to be closely involved in the lives of my children, in their education. I cook, clean, and garden, I organise and interfere, I deal with admin and write lists, I sew on name labels and I make dinosaur birthday cakes.
I am a stay at home mother and that is enough.
What about you. Do you work? Are you at home full time? How do you answer the dreaded "But, what do you do all day?" question?