Sometime last winter Matt and I started talking about whether we might be ready for me to return to work (for the purposes of this post, let's all assume I mean outside the home when I use the word "work"). Without diving headlong into an ugly debate, let's just say that my views on whether two parents should work have changed significantly since I became a mother - this is one of many, many issues I have had shift since I faced the reality of raising children rather than just the idea of raising children.
Before having children I liked my job, but wasn't necessarily ambitious career-wise. Then Harper was born, at the beginning of a long Midwestern winter, and the isolation of the stay-at-home life hit me like a Mack truck. I am a social being, I discovered, and even though play groups and blogging (Oh how the blogging saved me, no joke!) eased that, eventually to a great degree, I have never felt totally at ease in the stay-at-home mom gig. Don't get me wrong, of course I love my kids, and I wouldn't trade them for another kind of life, and while the "mommy" role suits me better now that it ever did that first year, I find myself feeling like I might be a better mother if I also had chunks of time devoted to an endeavor beyond the walls of our home.
At first I thought I would be a stay-at-home mom forever, now I don't think so anymore. No one is more surprised about this than me.
When I returned to school to get my master's degree it was a crazy time, it was difficult and I was usually exhausted, but I loved it. I loved being challenged in that way and having conversations with adults about education and technology and literature on a regular basis. I loved the adult companionship. I loved having something that was mine.
The agreement, when I went back to school, was that I did intend to put that degree to use, sooner or later. As a result of a multitude of factors, this winter it started to feel like it might be the right time to look for a job and I started to research child care options. One thing that made it easier to decide that I could go back to work was the place we plan on sending the children if I get a job. It is a gorgeous center, a place where both children can receive both preschool and child care, and it is peanut-free to boot. I liked it so much when I visited that it made me want to go back to work, just so the children could be there.
Even though it was scary I started to wrap my mind around the idea that I might really want to go back to work, then I had that long-term subbing job. Despite being only half-days, it actually made me feel like going back to work was do-able.
Here are some things (purposefully vague) that have happened, job-potential wise, in the last few months:
- Get a call from a family friend indicating there might be a half-time library position at a nearby elementary school - perfect! We start discussing a return to work in earnest and look into childcare options.
- Visit, talk with, several child care providers, find one we love, put down deposits to save spaces for the children for the fall.
- Get letter from principal of previously mentioned elementary school, they don't end up with any openings for the coming school year, find myself surprised at the crushing disappointment I feel.
- Accept and enjoy long-term sub job.
- Find out two local high schools (one actually a middle and high school) are hiring media specialists for fall. Debate whether I want to work in a high school (initial thought: no).
- Apply for high school positions, deciding, if nothing else, that interview experience would be good for me.
- Do not get interview EITHER place - too late applying for one, apparently not among most qualified applicants for other.
- Again with the disappointment.
- Seeing no other positions available, I begin to shift my mindset and think of all the great things about being a stay-at-home parent for another year. (I won't have to stop watching bad television, I don't need to "dress up" except for church on Sunday, etc.)
- Get phone call this morning from another high school where a library position suddenly opened up which needs to be filled quickly.
- Arrange interview for Thursday morning.
- Try to push mindset back to "I'm ready to go to work" mode.
- Repeatedly remind myself that an interview and a job offer are two very distinct things.
- Realize I won't sleep much for the next two nights.