I am getting ready for work. My scrubs are crisp from the dryer, my hair is pulled back in a slick ponytail, and I am wearing a neutral but flattering lipstick. The boys are ready for school, we are gathering up backpacks and lunchboxes and keys and umbrellas. We are walking out the door. As if seeing me for the very first time since I started working day-shifts at my new job several weeks ago, Short notices my uniform, looks me up and down, and says,
“So … you’re a doctor now?”
I laugh out loud, not meaning to but not being able to help myself.
Still laughing, I correct him: “No, no, Short, I am not a doctor.”
He smiles and shakes his head as if to make the wrong answer fall away. “Sorry, Mommy … I know you're not really a doctor. Uh, a dentist then?”
I guffaw. My brain quickly does somersaults and back-handsprings around the requirements of secretly obtaining my M.D. (in general practice or dentistry) in the past few years while staying home as a full-time mom and raising my two sons. Several years of night school, several thousand dollars, several more IQ points than I currently possess, and then of course passing those pesky licensing exams. In the innocence of childhood, apparently you can be whatever profession you want just by proclaiming it to be true.
“Short, sweetheart, I am not a doctor nor a dentist.”
I briefly fill him in on what it is exactly that I do at my Top-Secret New Job. Predictably, his eyes glaze over. Wearing scrubs does not equate (to him) to the job that I do. I finish up with something easy and relate-able:
“ … and then sometimes I have to call insurance companies and resolve issues regarding payment.”
He found something he can grasp on to. “Oh! You talk on the phone!” And then, reassuringly parroting all those special mommy-moments of the past seven years when I have cooed encouraging comments to him or his brother, “Mommy, that is a perfect job for you because you’re really good at talking on the phone!”