Sometimes a friend says to me, “How do you do it? And BOTH of you academics–wow.” By which I know that friend means, “Seriously–how does your family live off those pathetic salaries? As a second salary, ok, I get it, but both of you–?” Or another might mean, “Just thinking about your life makes me reach for my Xanax/calming glitter bottle. You have no job stability, and therefore no life stability. You move every two years, your kids have tried out every Jewish school on the continent, and you apply to 100 jobs a year, hoping that some random place in some random corner of the world might hire you.” Or yet another might mean, simply, “How do you ever have time for your kids?” (but that person is probably a fellow academic, because everyone else thinks we only work 4h/week).
And what do I say? I put on my best Dowager Countess of Grantham voice and tell them my life is just lovely and that our shared profession allows us to inspire our children with lifelong passions for knowledge, education, and self-betterment.
And as long as they have no interaction with my kids . . . they might believe me.