Recently I read an article about “slash careers” and how people who have slash careers are more fulfilled than people who don’t. I’ve thought a lot about that article. A slash career refers to a person who has multiple careers simultaneously. A woman named Marci Alboher coined the term for those who can’t answer the question “what do you do?” with a single word or phrase. As a stay-at-home mom for 13 years, this intrigued me. During those years I would recoil when someone would ask me that question. I struggled to tell others what I did without describing myself as either “just a stay-at-home mom” or coming across as superior to others who didn’t stay home with their kids. Women who choose to stay home and raise their kids are sensitive about explaining it to others. How do you tell people what you do as a stay-at-home mom when, if you do it right, it literally encompasses many careers? My experience has been that people either judge you because they think you aren’t really doing anything or worse they think you are a leech on the rest of society who is out there earning and producing.
I take pride in everything I do and raising my children is no exception. When they were young, I didn’t sit around the house eating bon-bons watching TV. I also wasn’t out playing golf or tennis and lunching at the club. When I stayed home with my kids I spent my time with them. They were my job. I was teaching them, reading to them and providing for them. I was their nurse, cook, artist, athlete, coach, chaperone, chauffeur, nutritionist, teacher, cop, laundress, maid, moralist and referee.
I am naturally curious and find many things interesting so I easily identify with the slash career philosophy. Why be pegged into one career if you have multiple interests? I’ve lived my slash career life without knowing there was a name for it. I have several careers simultaneously and I enjoy them. In addition to raising my kids, I do contract work with a small start-up company in Chicago. I create ads and in-house publications for an Oregon based hotel, restaurant and convention center. I love photography and take photos of almost anything and I’ve started writing again. I embrace my slash careers and believe I am happier having multiple careers than I would be if I only had one. In fact, I have a good friend who has a career in sales and she loves her job, but she also loves photography so about ten years ago she made a bold decision to spend one of her days off working at a local camera shop. She made a deal with the owner that she would work there one day a week in exchange for products, services and learning. At the time, and even now, people think she’s nuts for taking that day away from her family to do what she loves. At times people have tried to make her feel bad about her decision, but she is more fulfilled than the people who are criticizing her. I have another friend who works in sales and enjoys her job, but she has no hobbies outside of work. She gives everything to her job and she complains about her travel, her hours and her time away from family. So the more I think about slash careers the more I’m convinced the author is on to something. No person is just what he or she does for a living. We are all complicated and interesting beings that cannot be defined in simple terms or by society’s standards.