How do you explain to your children that you were once a stripper? When will that conversation be brought up? When my children would ask me where I worked, I would say at a bar and that was enough information to appease them. They knew that I was going to college to get my degree in writing, and that is what they told their teachers and friends. It was never an issue.
When I divorced their father I had no employment history. The prior nine years of my life had been spent being a stay-at-home mother. I began college a year before my divorce but at the time of the separation I had no degree or work experience. Luckily for me, after giving birth to three children, I retained a good body from daily trips to the gym. So I had the body, love of dancing, and enough nerve to try it; I went and auditioned to be a topless dancer.
I found myself employed with a job that I could create my own schedule, call off if I felt inclined, and work while my children were at their dad’s house for the weekends. I made enough money to go to a University during the week, travel within and outside of the United States when ever I wanted, and to be able to be with my children almost as much as I was before the divorce.
At first I enjoyed the work and felt liberated from normal constraints. I had my own money for the first time in nine years and was able to do with it what I liked. Being a writer, I found the atmosphere very interesting for my creativity. Between the dancers and clientele I met many different types of people. I made “regulars” who were a foundation of my weekly income and I paid my taxes yearly. I transitioned into single life pretty smoothly.
At the beginning I was afraid to tell my ex-husband because of the stigma it holds and was also worried about how it would affect me during the divorce. While going through the divorce I told the court, up front, that I was dancing. It was never a problem because it is legal employment. Dancing was a productive choice for my transition between divorce and getting my education.
Three years later it became apparent that it was no longer the job for me. I was tired of the clientele and dancers and looked forward to finishing up my degree and moving on. I was 32 years old and ready to join the rest of the world.
The transition from being a stripper to being employed in the “real” world is where I stand today. Dancing generates skills if approached professionally: money management, scheduling, public relations, communication skills, performance, self promotion/networking, to name a few. Dancing also supplemented my writing because of the diversity of interesting people and events I encountered and by the income I generated to travel and experience life.
I will explain my choice to dance to my children when they are old enough to understand that it was something I did professionally and for a short duration of time.