Friday, February 18, 2011

When do I become for real?

In most professions, there is a moment, somewhere along the way, where you either declare what you are, or accept a job title based on the function that you perform - massage therapist, lawyer, beautician, cashier, etc. If it is your profession (as opposed to "just a job"; a way to pay the rent) you probably have something tangible like a license or a degree that deems you an official plyer of your trade. But there are a few job titles out there that sort of defy the standard process, and I think that farmer is one of them.

At what point is it fair for me to declare myself a farmer? I find this question equally vexing in the context of an artist or a writer. When it's something that you have a passion for, something that you must do or die, that you'd do whether it made you a million or cost you everything, at what point does it become your profession? When you turn your first profit for doing it? When it's the easiest way to sum up the way that you spend the bulk of your time? If a doctor must get her degrees and take an oath to be legitimate in her career, what vetting process must I undergo?

The reason that I belabor the point is that I have a great deal of respect for farmers and the work that they do, and I don't want to usurp a title that I haven't rightly earned. I've come up against this conundrum a few different ways and have always managed to side-step answering the what do you do? question. That is, until last week.

I'd gone out of town with my friends for a girls' weekend, during which we'd scheduled ourselves a trip to the spa. When it came time to fill out my pre-massage paperwork, in the box marked occupation I hesitated a moment before writing Farmer. My reasoning for not writing homemaker, as I'd been writing for nearly 11 years was because the sort of massage that I needed as a homemaker was almost strictly for relaxation - treating myself to a little pampering. The kind of massage that I needed on this most recent visit to the masseuse was for arthritic knees, bursitis and a sinus headache, in addition to some good ol' relaxation. In short, I really needed a massage to keep my parts functional so that I could continue to fulfill my growing list of child and critter care obligations at home, ergo, Farmer. I felt a little bit like a fraud.

So, at what point am I officially, legitimately a real-deal farmer? Is it even possible for someone who gardens and keeps animals on the small scale that I do to ever really be fairly described as such?

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