So, what do you do for a living? By Amy McGreevy
Updated: Jun 28
“So, what do you do for a living?” Oh, how I dread that question. No string of words makes me more nervous, other than possibly “would you like to check your balance?”. It is the curse of almost a decade of being a stay-at-home mummy. It’s never enough
of an answer. It is literally what filled my days, every task, every thought, every timetable was built around it and yet when someone asked me what I did for a living I would find myself shifting and stumbling over the words “I em, well I have kids so like, you know um, but a bit of writing and uh yeah so”, very eloquent. I was so jealous of people who had a clear-cut answer. Either mums with the ability to announce proudly “I’m a mum” and leave it at that, or people who said I’m a nurse, I work at this place, I’m a librarian, whatever it was! That confidence in their identity. It has taken me literally years to have that confidence and the irony of it all, as soon as I master a good, clear “I’m a stay-at-home mum and pretty damn good at it!”, I decide to go back to work.
A house move and the luxury of a bit more space sparked the idea I could work for myself, the free time and change in the way everyone was working due to a global pandemic weirdly made it seem more possible than ever. That’s all it takes, a global pandemic apparently and I’m straight back to work! Cherry Tree Cottage is the name of my house, and my business. The business reflects the lifestyle change this house has brought to me. I have this amazing opportunity to grow my own herbs and flowers, to indulge the part of me that wants to stick wellies on and own chickens and fulfil some good life fantasy from my youth.
So, I’ve started. I’ve started small, just an Instagram page and word of mouth. It means I can make to order and concentrate on making beautiful items without a massive supply outlay. I make candles, wax melts, occasionally soaps, and small handmade gifts. All hand poured, naturally scented, made with soy wax and sustainably packaged.
So, I did it. I made the leap, I have an answer and conversation topics other than the age and eating habits of my tiny people. I no longer need to sit through being told “oh a mummy! Sure that’s the hardest job in the world!” While their eyes scan for someone else to talk to. And yet! Here we are again, the crisis of confidence, I got asked what I did for a living and I jumped. Yes! This is it! And what came out? “Well, it’s just this thing I’m doing, it’s kind of like candles and home-made stuff. It’s really not a big deal, I’m sure nothing will come of it but hey it’s fun!”. Endless ramblings peppered with downplaying what I do, and also never actually saying what it is. What exactly is wrong with me! Why do I keep excusing myself? I don’t think I’m alone in this, maybe it’s a Northern Irish trait, playing down success or ambition. I suspect it’s more than that, I know countless women who follow any praise or successful moment with ‘ach it was nothing’ or ‘yeah but I..’
The instinct to tear ourselves down before others do, to make sure we aren’t painted as being too full of ourselves, or bitches or self-involved. It’s hard to fight. It’s unlearning decades of making ourselves smaller, more approachable. Not yet getting used to having positive, unapologetically powerful female role models. But I have an opportunity in print here so, I’ve decided to try again. I run a business making my very own things, I am a mother to two gorgeous children, I put effort into these things and that’s it. That’s enough.
We used to be told as children to watch our words, I’m telling you the same as an adult. If someone compliments you, just say thank you, they aren’t asking for other things you’re not so great at. If you work hard at something, that’s your story, be proud of it. If something doesn’t work out, it’s not a failure, it’s a lesson for the next attempt, it’s ok to be happy for yourself! It’s also ok to wander, to not have a straight answer just yet, if ever. Don’t panic.
So, that’s me, what do you do for a living?
Amy is the founder and owner of Cherry Tree Cottage, you can contact Amy here for more information on her bespoke service or products.
All words and images by Amy McGreevy
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Love Cheryl and Lyndsey