All kids, even those who become doctors and lawyers, must handle the occasional dig from mom and dad. But as bartenders, our professional choices challenge our families’ concepts of what adulthood and a stable career look like. Here are seven comments all bartenders have heard from their moms about their chosen profession.

1. “When are you getting a real job?”

Every bartender has heard this, at least once, from a family member, friend, or spouse. Part of it comes from a place of genuine concern, part of it comes from the tired notion that there is only one proper way to be an adult. Parents prepare us for the world they entered, but things have changed. A real job can mean a lot of things.

2. “You’re too smart to be a bartender.”

Moms are the queens of backhanded compliment. Way to rub that college degree in our faces! Our moms often lose sight of the fact that bartending does require intelligence — chiefly social intelligence — which is something most people could use an education on.

3. “No one wants to marry a bartender.”

Maybe, but they sure want to date them. Choosing a nontraditional career path doesn’t mean all areas of your life must be nontraditional. Plenty of bartenders have healthy marriages and families. But, it is a great profession when you’re single, especially if you live in a big city. Mom, there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun.

4. “You must overhear so many great stories!”

My family is convinced there is some best-selling book proposal in my tales from behind the bar, but, honestly, most of the stories you overhear really aren’t that interesting. Bartenders eavesdrop on their fair share of breakups, sex stories, and gossip, but it usually goes in one ear and out the other. It’s actually refreshing to realize we all kind of share the same experiences.

5. “You’re missing Christmas again?”

No matter how many years you work in the service industry, it can be hard for your family to accept that you have to work holidays. Every year is a trip to the negotiation table with both your co-workers and your family. One of you will take Thanksgiving if the other does Christmas. Sometimes you just have to let the guilt trip happen.

6. “Wait, you still don’t have health insurance?”

This one is a valid concern. Most restaurant and bar jobs don’t come with benefits or sick days. It’s a factor we probably should consider more in our financial decision-making. Bartending is quick money; it’s a culture that often encourages us to value the short-term over the long.

7. “I envy your freedom.”

By bartending professionally, you make a lot of sacrifices, but the number one perk is freedom. While you still have a job, a schedule, and responsibilities, bartending allows you to live a life outside of the 9-to-5. You can work six nights a week for six months, then go traveling for the rest of the year. You have a certain job security in knowing people will always need someone who can pour them a drink. And it’s fun to have a job that’s fun.

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