“Well, I used to…”

“…be an industrial hygienist.”

“A what?”

It’s been a long time since anyone asked me what I do.  In this part of the country, that’s the typical question asked when you meet someone.  “What do you do?”  (As in, how do you make money?)

No one’s asked me in a while… it must be that I’m not meeting any new people lately!!

Anyways, it’s been almost 5 years since I left my job to be home with my kids.  For at least all a couple of those years, when anyone asked me what I do, I would answer, “Well, I used to be an industrial hygienist.”

For some reason that sounded better to me than “I stay at home with my kids.”  Like it was more socially acceptable or something.  Thankfully, I’m over that now.  When someone asks, I simply tell them that I am a stay-at-home-mom.  And I’m proud of it.

But every once in a while, the conversation goes further and I do explain what I used to do.

I was a Certified Industrial Hygienist.  Almost no one knows what that means.  So in the interest of learning something new every day, I’m going to tell you.  (feel free to thank me later!)

Industrial Hygiene is generally defined as the art and science dedicated to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, communication and control of environmental stressors in, or arising from, the work place that may result in injury, illness, impairment, or affect the well-being of workers and members of the community. These stressors are divided into the categories biological, chemical, physical, ergonomic and psychosocial.

I used to explain it like this…  as an industrial hygienist I try to keep the work environment healthy for people to work in – so I test for and control noise, chemicals, radiation, and other hazards.  That always seemed to be more understandable to most people than the formal definition!

These days I have fond memories of my career – every day was something new and it was well-suited to my analytical nature.  But believe it or not, it was not as challenging to me as my current “job”!  I was good at it, but it didn’t make me rely on God as much as being a mom.  Being a good mom forces me to my knees – every day – in prayer. 

Will I ever go back?  That’s a good question and only God knows the answer.

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