If you ask the majority of nine year olds, (and often many adults), what superhero power they’d like to have, I’ll place a bet that a lot of them will say invisibility. An invisibility cloak. It’s a fun idea, right?
I always wanted an invisibility cloak as a kid. Think of all the annoying people you could avoid if you could turn yourself invisible. The times you could edge out of a boring meeting or banal party and slip away into the night…
Anyway, I recently answered a call from the editor of a literary magazine I write for, asking for suggestions from regular writers for writing themes for upcoming issues. So I suggested the theme of ‘Invisibility’ – and she liked it. So now I have the honourable title to add to my writing CV of having a month named after me! February is ‘Kate Jones Invisibility Month’ on Sick Lit! http://sicklitmagazine.com/category/letter-from-the-editor/
But I already had an ulterior motive for suggesting the theme.
I had been stewing on an issue that has been bugging me for some time now, the past few years actually, and like many writers, the best way I could think of tackling it was by writing a story about it. Totally fictional, of course, but the reasoning behind it is very much non-fiction, unfortunately.
You see, I could be forgiven for thinking I have actually got the invisibility cloak I dreamed of as a kid.
Many, many, (trust me MANY) times, I will be out with my family, and we will bump into somebody we know. They will stop to exchange pleasantries. They will ask my husband how his job is going. We will chat for a few minutes, during which time, they will not once think to ask how my work is going. How I’m doing. Nothing.
We used to run a business together, and, despite us having equal roles, I had countless incidents of customers insisting get your husband to call me and discuss it if I refused to agree to a demand. Friends and family always saw him as being the owner of the business, whilst I ‘worked’ there.
When once, at a party, I dared to climb out of the shell for a few minutes and join the conversation, mentioning my writing, somebody turned back to my husband and asked: And what do you think about her writing? Unbelievable!
Now, I know this might sound like I’m paranoid or bitter. I’m honestly neither. But the truth is, last year, I lost count of the amount of times this happened. Even more bizarrely, I have lost count of the amount of times I have attended events alone, and people have stopped me to ask how my husband’s career is going. I even had one woman tell me you must be so proud of your daughter – she obviously gets her brains from her father.
WTF IS THIS ABOUT??
I’m positive this didn’t happen before I had children. I think that, once you take your husband’s name and become a mother, you often lose your own, individual identity. I bet most of the other mother’s at my daughters’ schools don’t know my first name – and to be honest, I don’t know their names either. We simply refer to one another as ‘so-and-so’s Mum’.
I suppose it is understandable that our children only see us as mothers and fathers – after all, it is highly embarrassing to think of your parents having a life outside of the home. But other adults? I find it strange. I love talking to other people about what they do, I find people fascinating. But I know it isn’t just me. I’ve spoken to other women and they have similar experiences, including the fabulous editor of Sick Lit herself, which was one of the reasons why she was so keen to publish the story.
If you’d like to have a read, follow the link: http://sicklitmagazine.com/2016/02/01/my-name-is-by-kate-jones/
and let me know what you think.
Oh, and when I asked MY nine year old what superpower she would choose, she said, without missing a beat, shapeshifter. So, there you go – invisibility is out, shape-shifting is the new power to have.
Good writing and reading.