Sunday, August 16, 2009

You don't GO anywhere on a treadmill

Those of you who know me in person know that I have a longstanding desire to have a job. Its coupled with a firmly held belief that I don't want Wren and Frost to see their parents only on weekends (when I would be forced to cram all my pampering - pedicures, gym visits, shopping sprees and preventative healthcare into those days as well, right? Right?)

What I wanted to say was that life with the boys is rambling and roaring along at a happy pace of cupcakes and chores and chickenpoop but I don't have any time to think about my own goals (can mothers have such things?). As a result I live in a perpetual state of rushing without reflection which feels like running on a treadmill over a trapdoor. At any moment I could trip the switch [ie, Wren could enter elementary school before I have my 'career back', Frost could become a teenager or something will change] and I will fall down into a huge chasm of midlife crisis.

I know its waiting.

Recently I did some googling of potential employers. Employers with whom I would like to work and would have done well pre-motherhood. I looked at PATH and the Gates Foundation (which is based only 10 minutes from my home), some non-profits with work in Africa. I also googled masters courses in public health, public administration and other areas of interest.

Instead of being productive, this made me question how I got so far from the person I think I am. You know, brainy, successful, thin, doing regular exercise and valued by clients. Me - a straight A scholarship student in everything I have ever attempted can't even qualify for a masters without doing a GRE and seem unable to make myself appear anything but aged on a resume.

Worse, the students and employees whose faces grace the pages of these colleges and employers seem to personify the Other Path - where one can be young, free and embody dedication to the cause. I would love to be dedication to the cause 3 days a week but I am finding it hard to carve out the space for myself to gather the clarity to market myself.

Am I OLD at 42?

Then there are the big questions:
1) After a substantial career break, do you try and return at a similar level or just get any job. Marketing Director to checkout chick? Its looking good at this point.
2) Should I take the risk of working in non-profits where I may earn a lot less than the private sector but could have a more meaningful long term focus? I liked earning a good salary (Josh and I had the same salaries when we married. I now earn zilch. Nada. Nothing. I can't even apply for a credit card on my own. However, I was tired of FMCG and loved the social policy side. Also, should I focus on larger corporations that offer good health benefits in case we need some supplemental cover for Wren. We don't now but who knows down the track. Smaller non-profits are unlikely to be able to cover Wren as things now stand.
3) Should I try and find 'at home' work - or contract work which would allow me to dictate more flexible hours [=returning to work as a part-time qualitative research moderator if I could]
4) Should I work full-time? [=many more options but problems with young kids]
5) Should I work part-time? [=few opportunities in professional or well paid positions. I could be a checkout chick at PCC]

This is not very productive thinking. I simply create the same list of questions every time I consider this issue. Still, if you have read this far I appreciate it. It helps to put things down somewhere.

Did I say I hadn't had time to reflect? Now I have. TICK.

Wren has been acting more like a 3-year old every day. He is much more opinionated and verbal and the outbursts of screeching have subsided. He loves to help me around the house as long as I don't ask him to. For example, if I start mopping or vacuuming without him he rushes to me and grabs at me "STOP STOP" while he gets his own mop or vacuum. However, if I ask him to pick up toys before snack / another game / books / gardening he refuses until he sees I am serious.

Frost is very into graphic novels. He is reading fairly adult cartoons and enjoys the Farside, Footrot Flats, Marvel comics and the Simpsons. He has almost finished the last of the Riordan series - The Last Olympian and will probably get back to the Warriors series (the second one) after that. He is still complaining about chores and was sulky, sad and self-recriminating when he realized he wasn't getting allowance this week because he had failed to do the required 15 chores this week. He can do things like recycling, cleaning his room, helping in the garden, checking the chicken's water and doing something extra to help but had only 9 'ticks' on his list. He is saving for Brickcon (to buy Brickarms) so he was miserable.

Anyway, its late. Its been a long day and I am always lazy at this time. I am sorry I have been a bad blogger. I am storing up posts for the time I get a moment in a coffee shop or a day when the kids are occupied. It hasn't been happening recently because my neck injury has had me using my time off for seeing doctors and a chiropractor.

Josh is in the kitchen trying to figure out what is going on with our dishwasher which is making a loud alarm signal at a time when the kids are sleeping. Last night Wren woke in the night very upset so I am not keen to disturb him again.

We bought Frost a loft bed today. It will arrive on Tuesday so we will be doing a mini-room remodel at that point.


Linda said...

I totally get the whole stay-at-home mom who used to work thing. I am an RN & have only worked for 7 months since we moved up here in 2003. I was also a straight-A student who did well at work.

When I started looking for work last fall, what I got was "you need to take the RN refresher course before I'll send your resume on to a manager." That combined with only finding 10 & 12 hour shifts at the local hospitals made things somewhat intimidating. I wanted the health insurance benefits in case Jack got laid off. He figured a way that we could work together on making sure the kids didn't spend too long in daycare. So I signed up for the refresher course through WSU. I was reading one of the books at the time he died. (If you go to, you'll find the entry on the last conversation we had. It's relevant here.) I'm still working on the refresher course. I hope to be back at work by the end of the year. I can't pay for COBRA forever. While I realize that my situation isn't yours exactly right now, it was 6 months ago. My, how life has changed.

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