I heard the word homemaker…

If you’ve been blogging for any length of time and if you’ve earned income, you’ve probably started making some appropriate declarations on your income tax return. They may be a little painful but legally, it’s what we have to do. If we’re making any sort of money blogging, we have to claim it as income and pay taxes accordingly.

I’m okay with that. I’m over that. I filed my taxes and it wasn’t too bad.

But did you notice that they ask for your occupation? What did do you put? I’m not sure if “blogger” is an appropriate occupation because, by definition, it’s not a paid position. So instead, I put “freelance writer” and felt pretty good about it. I write, I consult, I do a little bit of everything.

When I recently applied for a mortgage for my new house, the story was a little different.

I had to provide my tax returns for the past 3 years along with any W-2 or 1099 forms I had received. I was excited to call myself “self-employed.” And then our loan officer asked me to provide a profit and loss statement.

Huh?

Is this whole blogging business supposed to be predictable? God, I wish it was.

So I basically created a year-to-date spreadsheet with my income and expenses so far. Not too shabby.

But how about the other years? What about last year? Or the year before?

I started my blog in September 2009. I have not been making nor claiming income in all that time. In fact, 2011 was the first year that I felt confident enough to call myself self-employed (never mind the fact that the actual income was laughable).

However, when you are applying for a mortgage, they want to know everything, including what you had for breakfast. So I had to submit all of the appropriate paperwork indicating that I was laid off in July 2009 (you bastards) and started collecting unemployment in August 2009. President Obama was very good to me and I collected unemployment for quite some time.

Life is changing now and I am starting my own business and freelancing where I can. So I feel like I’m starting over. But again, mortgage companies don’t care about your feelings. They care about your income.

As I was talking to our loan officer to confirm the dates of my employment, we talked about my freelancing and what I did prior to that. I confirmed that I was unemployed and was collecting unemployment. And he said…

“So I’ll just put down that you were a ‘Homemaker.’”

I froze.

No, no, no. That’s not right. I was blogging and doing some pro bono consulting trying to get my experience in line. I did some odd posts here and there and made some money. I mean, I wasn’t just sitting around eating bon-bons and watching soap operas.

Because when I heard the word ‘Homemaker’ that’s what I thought.

1957 - Ouch!
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: clotho98 via Compfight

I didn’t say any of that, though. Instead, I said, “Does that help us or hurt us?” to which he responded, “Neither.” And then I said, “I used to be a high wage earner.”

I don’t think he had a reply to that. I don’t think I needed one because I know I said it more for my benefit than his.

I am more than just a Homemaker. I work. I just don’t get paid. I am smart. I run my household and raise my son and take care of two pets. I’m not just a Homemaker.

He certainly didn’t say that. But it was clearly an indication of issues I was having with my own identity.

I know it’s been in the news lately about how being a mom is one of the hardest jobs out there. But let’s be honest. It’s not a job. You don’t have a boss who holds you accountable. You don’t get paid. You don’t get benefits. And you certainly don’t get vacation time or sick days.

You hold yourself accountable and hope that when your yearly performance review comes around, you’ll be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

My mom spent many years as a homemaker and I think she struggled with some of the same identity issues. I never made a specific choice to stay at home and I’ve never spent any of my time at home without working towards something.

But this is my issue and one that really struck me. I am not a homemaker. I am a work-from-home woman who happens to be a wife and mother. But to all you proud homemakers out there? There is nothing just to the job you do. It’s a hard one and one to be proud of even if we don’t always recognize that.

  • Amy_del_Mar

    I totally understand your reaction. There seems to be no modern version – no description that does it justice.

  • Bocafrau

    That was great. I don’t look at myself as “just” a homemaker. But yes, I too struggle with identifying myself from time to time.

  • AmyOver

    My sister was a 30-year old grad student when she married her husband. They were married in his native England. On the marriage certificate, her profession is  listed as “spinster.”

  • Mylife Onestoryatatime

    I loved the post. I hate when I’m asked that question too. I am not “just” a homemaker. I work at home. We need to redefine our “title.”

  • Melisa

    I don’t know how many times I’ve checked the homemaker box and never thought anything of it. Probably because truth be told? I’m not doing much of anything but taking care of the kids and the home.