It’s the question du jour! After a nearly five year hiatus from real office work, I got back at it this fall. I did it because I wanted to. Which is just a massive privilege that I know I can’t begin to appreciate. But though it was of my own volition, it wasn’t something I was 100% certain would go well. I had this gut feeling, basically, that it was time to shake things up. And if I was going to hate it, I wanted to get hating it out of the way and then see where my road led.
In any given week for the past year, my daydreams of the future have vacillated wildly. I have envisioned myself a full time homeschooler. A house full of kids who learn because they just love life. And that vision is beautiful. But it contradicts with my “yellow wallpaper” side; i.e. the part of me that is bored and frustrated and feels like the walls are caving in. So maybe I can work to pay for a private school, one that will give them all that hippie-dippy freedom, but not require a fount of patience that I have not yet discovered within me. Then there’s me the would-be but never-truly-has-been community activist, all helping better our schools and immersing my kids in the true community around us, and not the lovely but hyper protective bubble they generally stay within. And I like all of these visions, to a degree. Their common thread, which I am noticing with some small horror, is that they are all driven by what I want for my kids. Not for me.
I don’t know exactly what I want for me. But I don’t do well at sitting around, ruminating. I mean, I love to ruminate. Just while running around, making rash life decisions. Like going to law school. Or getting married at 23. (Whoops, did I say that?) The latter has worked out well. The former, so far, has been more about loans than legal practice. The law school part I liked. It was so challenging and stimulating. I learned a lot. But the what to do with it, I’ve never really nailed that down.
So, anyways, I just decided to look for a job. Because I had a nagging sense that I needed to try. Even if the end was a failure, it was something. And I had many visions of failing, to be sure. Hot of the heels of failing at a home business, plus having failed at getting a job back in 2009 when we lived in California, in conjunction with daily mini-failures as a parent, I view myself as nothing if not so, so fallible.
What was the question? Oh, I was saying how work is. Well, it’s a contract position, meaning not permanent. The work is nit picky and pretty dry. I don’t envision doing it as all of my job forever and ever. But. It’s great! I really mean it! And a big part of great about it is that it is mine. It is about me, and my skills, my concentration, taking on projects and seeing them through to completion. I didn’t quite predict how much the experience of just going to an office would be cathartic. Historically, offices were not my jam. But where the quiet and often serious atmosphere once spooked me, now it’s this balance that is helping me with my home life too, as my home life has all the drama and intrigue I need and then some.
Sure, things are crazier at home right now. Without a doubt. And fixing that will require letting go. Meals will be simpler. Farewell to playdates for now. My to-do list will have to shrink. Aspirations for an all pinterest holiday season are fading away. In my experience as a wretched control freak/perfectionist, though, once my temper tantrum is over, letting go is amazing. I am a pretty intense person. Like, really. I am hyper and emotional, idealistic and obsessed with authenticity. I am, basically, the worst. But I’ve got to give myself a bit of credit. Because going back to work has shown me that I have grown up by a good measure since those pre-kid days. Expectations have lowered, and contentment has increased. I still don’t know what the years will bring, but I feel calmer. (Not at 7:55am when it’s time to leave for school and work, and I just want everyone to GET YOUR SHOES ON BEFORE I LOSE MY MIND, but, you know, calmer on average).
Basically, this endeavor turned out to be mostly for me. It’s not merely a vehicle to impose a perfect childhood on the kids. I’m actually liking it for me. I reserve the right to completely change my mind. For now, I’m pretty good.
So, right now, I am learning to stop planning my life in order to attempt to plan theirs. A fool’s errand, in any case, to think my efforts will make or break them, or that I have the key to unlock their happiness. But I am a fool. And you know what I never expected? My kid, my four year old, who broke me in as a mom and nearly broke me on the whole, she is so dang proud of me these days. That wasn’t even in the master plan.