I just resigned from the shortest job I never had.
I am a woman of principle.
Hear me roar!
Monday, September 24, 2007
I just resigned from the shortest job I never had.
Choosing to go back to work after this significant hiatus means a lot to me. I will be bringing in an income again. I will be a different kind of role model for my children. I will be contributing to the community in a way that is personally meaningful and fulfilling, not just for what I've done as a mother. It is an exciting time for me to pick up a part of myself that I stored away more than a few years ago, and I'm curious to see what this working mom can do.
As I exchanged communications with my future employer last week, I realized that the choice I made may not be the right one. There is some confusion, perhaps a misunderstanding, but the deal I accepted does not appear to be what is now on the table.
Before the offer had been made (while I was still waiting for an answer), I feared starting over because I thought it meant that I had failed - failed myself for believing so much in a good idea without seeing the bad side and ignoring some red flags, and more importantly, that I had failed my husband and family. If this job didn't come to fruition, I'd be three strikes and out. It would be an indication that my grand idea, to work from home, do something important, and still be a present and active mother to my children would not come to pass. With the offer came relief and elation. For 24 hours, I felt I had won.
One great feature about going back to work at this point in my life is that I actually am older and wiser. I've been very clear with prospective employers that I know my strengths, of what I am capable, and offer a different kind of perspective and composure than I did before having children. Unfortunately for my future employers (and this part I didn't mention in the interviews) is the flip side: I am also very clear about what am and am not willing to do for a job, and if pushed, I will always decide to do what is best for my family and have far fewer qualms about walking away.
At this moment, starting over fills me with great confidence. It feels as though the job offer was a personal challenge for me to determine how much I'm willing to compromise so I can decide if this is what I really want or if I want to take the bigger risk to work on my own terms.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Opted-out, former nonprofit professional seeks extraordinarily flexible part-time employment. Position must be meaningful (though not all-consuming), with special consideration to causes that stir my heart. Job responsibilities must include only the things I like doing and none of the things that I swore I'd never do again. Salary must be enough to make my efforts worthwhile, not make a mockery of my former salary and earning potential, and cover the occasional extended care at preschool. Interested employers may submit a statement of no more than 250 words describing how your position might best suit me; please apply directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As my children enjoyed summer camp, I started on my own adventure - staging my re-entry to the workforce.
It took some getting used to, this idea of transitioning from stay-at-home-mom to (ideally) working-from-home-mom. I've spent many hours in the past five or so years considering what I'd do when I went back, because the professional life I formerly had was far too consuming to resume. Would I return to school for yet another degree? Try to make ends meet as an unpublished freelance writer? Stuff envelopes? Send the kids away and work on a fishing boat in Alaska?
It struck me one day that I didn't have to start over. I'd use my skills to do the things I do best, just doing less of them. Once I realized that five years of sitting on the couch watching Oprah and eating bon bons did not delete my entire professional tool box, I dusted off my resume, bought some appropriate clothes, and began the hunt.
I was flattered and relieved to receive positive responses to my inquiries, and have since been juggling the hiring process with a few potential employers. The first was easy - I sent in a resume and they called me. We met, and later the same day they offered me a job. I asked for a few days to consider the offer (it wasn't a great fit for me, and I was interviewing with another group that afternoon, and someone else the next day), then had to decline. The next two seemed even better.
(I'm now wondering if this was maybe one of those "bird in the hand" things?)
I submitted a writing sample for one, and scheduled another interview with the other. Weeks passed. I was invited for another interview and references were checked. Then the waiting began.
Though we've exchanged e-mails, I've convinced myself not to stalk my potential future employer like a desperate ex-girlfriend. I am confident that if this is indeed the right position, I will get the job. So I'm waiting. And waiting, and waiting. (Auntie Banana reminded me that for her current position, it took two months (!) for all the details to be sorted and an offer made.)
While I am a patient person, waiting for an answer is not one of my strengths.
Waiting makes the mind wander. I amuse myself with the myriad possibilities of how this might all work out wonderfully well, leading to a dynamic professional life and a paved road ahead of me with all the possibilities lined up as ducks in a row, never having to worry or wonder again. At the same time, I've made a convincing argument (to myself, of course) that having received no offer means that I am no longer being considered, and I will be at square one again. That this amazing opportunity that seemed so very perfect might have to be put aside for something else makes me sad, and I hate that I've invested so much of myself to only start over with the possibility of something else that already feels like something less because it's not this.
So I wait. Patiently and impatiently I am holding out hope.
(I'll let you know how it goes.)
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Monday: We go to Ellie's preschool for a Meet & Greet. She is beyond excited! As she sits in circle time, she eagerly offers information. I am amazed at her teachers' abilities to contain the non sequitur conversations of sixteen toddlers while keeping their attention focused on a story. After, we have lunch with her Auntie Banana, and she is so happily amused and quiet throughout our meal that I reward her with a quick spin on the carousel. Following that is a visit to her pediatrician for the removal of stitches from her forehead,* and she surprises me again, this time with her patience and bravery. We then rush to pick up her brother from Kindergarten, singing songs together as we wait in the carpool line. It is a good day. They should all be so easy.
Tuesday: It's her first day of preschool! She picks a special dress to wear, abandoning her usual t-shirts and shorts. She can't wait to cram her Tinkerbell lunch box into her too-big Dora backpack and go see all her friends from summer camp. Her transition back to school is simple and easy. I watch the other parents hovering outside the doors, stealing peeks in the windows while fighting back the tears, and I remember Jake's first day. With Ellie it is different, and I don't have the same worries. I know that my girl will be just fine, and she is. She loves school, and has a great first day! Jake has a great day, too, so I tempt the fates and take them both on a quick shopping trip, armed with jelly bean bribes, but they are not enough to buy good behavior. The day cannot end soon enough.
Wednesday: We drop Jake at school and for the 90 minute window between his departure and hers, Ellie she screams at me because she wants to go to school, NOW. (This helps ease my guilt about taking her in for longer days should I start working soon.) A few hours later, I am able to successfully juggle the conflicting schedules of my two children at different schools released at the same time. I marvel at how well I'm managing our new routines.
The children play cooperatively, a truce in their ongoing battle. I watch, satisfied. They are a delight, but as we begin to get ready to leave for our holiday celebrations, her screams resume. The dress I've chosen is all wrong. Now it's the shoes. I am NOT allowed to brush her hair. Who is in control here? I offer an olive branch, waving my white flag of an unscheduled sippy cup of milk, but she will not budge or bend. I pack her in her seat (at least this week she's keeping her seat belt buckled) wearing only her panties and socks. She agrees that ONLY WHEN we arrive at her grandparents' house, she will put on her dress and shoes. (I've negotiated a side deal with her father that he will take over at this point and I will arm myself with a glass of wine.)
She stays up too late and convinces me that a little bit of milk will help her sleep that much better, which it does - too well. In the dark hours before dawn, I'm awoken by her cries of a pee pee accident. I become supermom, able to change sheets (in the dark) in a single bound! I ease her back to sleep, and consider myself lucky to have not had the battle over pajamas and panties at such an hour. While my loved ones sleep, I stir.
Thursday/Friday: She is more agreeable, most likely because Daddy is home from work. His tantrum management tactics are different (for hers and mine) - he takes distraction to new levels, and I get a break. I watch her in moments of independence and consider rather heavily what it means when she tells me that she's not a baby anymore. On one night, she screams from her bed that she is not tired (she is); on the second, she melts into her bed with her favorite twelve different plush companions and is happy to go to sleep so long as Daddy comes in to give her one last hug and kiss (she does).
Saturday: At 4:50 a.m., my alarm clock rings (the alarm that has not been set in 5 1/2 years!). Rafe groggily turns to me and explains that Ellie was playing with my clock yesterday. Of course she was. Why wouldn't she?
Again, in the darkness before dawn, my loved ones sleep while I stir.
*In case you missed the post where I explained Ellie's most recent adventure, she had a minor incident on Labor Day weekend that yielded a set of stitches in her forehead, but she's fine. Clearly it hasn't slowed her down even a tiny bit.
Monday, September 03, 2007
"Which one do you like better?"
"I have to choose?"
"Let's see...that one makes you look kind of like a librarian trying to be a sailor, and I think you should take the other one back."
"But I like it."
"It's just that it looks like one of those things, what's it called?"
"Actually, I was thinking of a Gi, but straitjacket is funnier."
Sunday, September 02, 2007
"I didn't like the fixing part."
Asking Ellie about her experience in the E.R. last night, that's what she told us. She liked going in the ambulance with her grandmother, and found the firefighters, paramedics and doctors to all be very nice. She liked the happy face pictures on the wall (she wanted to be the pink one on the pain scale), and she really liked watching the movie on the TV in her room. She liked being wrapped up like a burrito (while she was immobilized and strapped to the table). She especially liked the Barbie Fairytopia stickers the nurse brought, and even more, the Hello Kitty band aid. But she didn't like the fixing part.
Personally, I liked the fixing part. The part of the evening when the kind doctor stitched my little girl's forehead back together was the highlight of the night for me. I didn't like the part when my cell phone didn't ring until we left the restaurant. I didn't like that I couldn't figure out how to bypass an unimportant message to get to the three very important messages the minute I realized that my phone had received information and I had not. I didn't like the seconds I had to wait to talk to her grandfather on the phone to learn that my baby had hit her head on the fireplace, cut her forehead, and needed immediate care. I didn't like the ten minutes it took us to drive home, change cars, gather a few changes of clothes and some special toys, then drive to the emergency room. I didn't like having to leave Jake at home, not able to explain that Ellie and her grandmother were doing just fine, but we needed to hurry to be with them. I didn't like that the nearest hospital's E.R. was full, and I didn't like that we couldn't park closer to the door. I especially didn't like seeing the laceration in my little girl's forehead. I didn't like most of what happened last night.
In fact, while the evening's activities were a pretty grand adventure for my little girl, I'd rather not think about it. I'm trying to think about how she seems not affected by it at all, how she's as happy and well today as she was before this incident. I'm trying not to think about much else, because anything else leads me to horrible scenarios of how it could have been so much worse.
She's fine. We're all fine. Her scar will fade and she won't think about it.
It won't be such an easy recovery for the rest of us.
I really, really liked the fixing part. That was the best part of the night for me.