I guess that title is a little overdramatic. I should say something like the post I thought I’d write in four more years. I’ve been wanting to sit down and string some thoughts together about this for weeks, but I couldn’t.
I’m going back to work.
Like regular paying job, outside the home, kind of work. Not that I’ve been eating bon-bons for the past three years, so it feels weird to phrase it that way.
I’m going to back up about seven months and explain all of this. Last November, I received an email from an old contact I had who told me about a job opening at my alma mater. There were so many things about it that seemed perfect for me. It was, at that time, going to be a part-time position as Writing Center Director at a small institution. Part-time work seemed like a perfect transition back to the working world and it was a position I’d love to hold and one that matched my experience well.
The week before this email arrived, Scott and I had been talking about the possibility of moving. There are things we love about this house, but a lot of really impractical things as well (namely that it is older and there are a million improvements left to be made and we don’t have the finances or the time for that anymore now that we have kids). We chatted about the different possible scenarios…. purchasing a newer house in our same area, moving a little south and closer to the city, or maybe moving about 25 minutes northeast of here to a suburb we lived in when we first married. It’s an area that has changed so much in a few years, and it’s really become a hub of sorts for young families. It’s also about 40 minutes from my alma mater and makes this job an actual possibility (versus an hour plus commute which I am not going to do with young kids). So when the wheels started turning on this job business, it seemed like a sign, and we decided to jump in with both feet and sell our home. We love the area anyhow and would be happy there regardless, but the job possibility also gave us a valid reason to sell in a lackluster market. Our house was listed on March 15th.
In February, by the way, I am obsessively checking the job postings because the job was supposed to post and it hadn’t yet. In March, I inquired what was going on and I found out that the position had been restructured so that it was now full-time. It’s combined with an Instructor of English position teaching two composition courses. At first my feelings were really mixed on all of this. I hadn’t planned to go back at all until Norah was around 4 or 5, and certainly not full-time. But the whole possibility was too perfect to pass up. I’ve always wanted to pursue something beyond the high school arena, but I had no idea how that would happen (a PhD first or a small community college or what). To begin this career journey with my alma mater seemed like such a perfect fit.
So I applied even though it is full-time, and I completed the interview process in May. The job was posted on both the Journal of Higher Education and the university job board, and I knew there were a number of others applying. My big interview was the day after Norah’s party and four days after selling our house, and I interviewed with a panel of Deans feeling certain I sounded stupid and wishing I’d prepared a little better amidst the madness. A couple weeks went by and I was thinking maybe the job went to someone else, but I finally got the call two weeks ago, and I begin in August! (She congratulated me on an impressive interview, by the way, so I guess sometimes our self-doubt clouds our perception a bit.) I didn’t realize how rewarding and perfect it would feel until all the pieces fell together and it became official. I’m so grateful for all of it.
The university has a Child Development Center in cooperation with their Education department, so my kids can be there with me while I work. This was really the icing on the cake and the piece of the puzzle that made me feel like it was meant-to-be. I know there will be challenges and adjustments, and I’m not ecstatic about commuting 40 minutes to work every day with two kids, but I’m learning that with motherhood – whether you work outside the home or not – there are sacrifices and challenges and nothing is absolute perfection because this is real life. But overall, I cannot think of anything better for our family right now.
I’ve heard about the “sacrifices” and “hard choices” of motherhood my entire life, but I’ve been a little spoiled on having to make those choices so far. I had a baby. I wanted to leave my job. I left my job with no regrets. There were financial adjustments moving to one income, but overall that was the easiest choice I’ve ever made. Then this new opportunity came along and threw me for a loop. It feels strange to me to pursue my own career and my own path when my kids are so young, and much of my last few years (all of it?) has been caring for them and putting them first. I realize that sounds embarrassingly 1950’s for me to say that, but it’s just been my norm since I became a mother. Norah will be fifteen months when I begin working though, and Jude will be just shy of four. I’m realizing that some time in a structured environment without mom for something like 8 months of the year is probably good for them and good for me. [Side note, I’m also realizing how much time professors get versus teaching high school and it blows my mind! Three actual full months off for summer, one full month for Christmas, a spring break and a fall break… real office hours with nobody barging in so I can plan and grade!? It’s such a welcome change and a testament to how insanely hard high school teachers work.]
So that’s the story. Big changes are headed our way, and I am equally excited and scared and all of those other feelings that come along with big moments. Any advice from seasoned working moms is greatly appreciated.