Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What else do you do?

My friend Devona issues a great post on her encounter with a professor from her college days who, upon seeing her with a toddler and pregnant with her second child, asked worriedly if she is okay.

Having gone through four years of graduate training in the most liberal field there is I must confess that I must have imbibed some of the professor's thought process as well. One of the first times I spoke with Devona after church, I asked her what she did "besides" raising her daughter. A foolish question, for which I am sorry. Granted that this was an attempt to get to know her better and to establish some common ground, but it was stupid. It presupposed that anyone of our age is probably doing work outside of the home and that parenting isn't a full-time position, which is patently untrue. It was also before I realized that she was the blogger that I had been reading for quite some time, in which case my question would have been moot.

In our culture we use occupation as shorthand for "who are you." Psychologically speaking, you can learn a great deal about a person if you know what occupation they have chosen, especially if you know that they like the work they do. Referencing back to my earlier post about personality, there are many things that people use as "identity claims" about myself in conversation. Some of them have to do with vocations - I am a student of Counseling Psychology. I am a confessional Lutheran (albeit recent and learning). I am an amateur guitarist and I like to sing. This last one was particularly salient to me in college - I had friends that would refer to me as Blind Dog, my blues band persona. I am a father. I am a husband. I am an intern for the time being. I am a scientist (though there are those who would disagree with this claim).

All of these and more are ways that I think about myself and some of them are properly vocations. Then of course there are some things about me that I don't care to share with others too readily. I can be ungrounded and driven by every wind of doctrine. I don't lead my family spiritually as I ought. Many, many, excruciatingly more. Most people don't lead with this list, however. "Hi, I'm Kletos and I am rather doctrinally spineless."

We all have different "identities" that we use to categorize and think about ourselves (even if your identity happens to be "nonconformist"). Devona's post is about solidifying the identity of motherhood into something that is salient and important to her and being ready to defend that identity in the world that doesn't value motherhood.

I wish I could have heard the identity claim, "I am a mother" without expecting something else.


Blogger John said...


Your honesty and candor are refreshing. I also need to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that [I] may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom. 12:2).

The role of wife, mother, and homemaker is mercilessly attacked and belittled. It is sad that such a glorious calling is trampled underfoot by our culture. I pray that I will exalt this beautiful and dignified calling.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Kletos Sumboulos said...

Amen, John.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Sean said...

yea... it's something i think about too. I admit that I still ask "what do you do" as my first question more often than I ask "are you a homemaker". At least "what do you do" leaves room for them to answer "mother". :)

I make up for it by immediately getting really (and genuinely) excited if they say "mother".

9:55 AM  
Blogger Joshua 6:27 said...

you're still blind dog to me man

we should play raquet ball sometime.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Devona said...

Thanks for the post. :) It was very honest, and I aapreciate it.

God bless.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Kletos Sumboulos said...

As an explanation, Joshua and my college roommate both helped keep my self-esteem in check by trouncing me regularly in racquetball. They just made sure that the fat guy had to keep running - it was a devilishly brilliant tactic.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Sunshine said...

what i wouldn't give to be "just" a mom.


9:35 AM  
Anonymous Shrewinator said...

Hey, it wasn't just to see you run... though that was great. You will always be Blind Dog to me as well. Rosanne is fully occupied with the occupation 'homemaker', and I can see that it is by far the most important thing she could possibly be doing. The impact on the kids is tremendous, and the potential future impact of our children on the world exponential....

8:11 PM  

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