How to give up a dream job for your family

One day, you’re looking online for another writing gig, when you come across a job description that seems like a bullet list based on you.  All of it’s there, from the things you can do that most other people can, to far more obscure qualities and qualifications.

You don’t read further.  You contact the job poster.

They get back to you a few hours later.

And then, re-reading the job description more carefully, you come upon a hitch:

“I’m a writer, but I’m also a stay-at-home mom, and this job actually isn’t the remote contributor position I thought it was,” you write to your contact at the company, expecting that to be the end.

Two days later, they get back to you.  They want you.  Maybe you can both find a way to work it out.  Let’s have a phone interview next Tuesday.

They want you.

Those words you don’t hear every day as a freelance writer.  But now – all you can describe it like is falling in love.  It’s certain.  They want you.  Desire. Passion.

But wait...

You try to make it work.  Careful questions at the half-day daycare.  Pep talks from a journalist friend and personal hero.  Negotiations – offering them some of you.

But it’s not enough. 

It’s all or nothing, this.

At the daycare, you look at your son, laughing hysterically as he and his new friends run around and inside a fabric tunnel (a bit like the one you used to have for your cat – you chuckle).  You see how trusting he is, knowing you’ll come back for him every day.  Never late. You see how happy he is, how he’s found a place in this world.  You don’t know if you can bear to make everything change for him.  It’s more than you had.  It’s more than a lot of people can give.  So why shouldn’t you?  That’s what you committed to in the first place.

And anyway, don’t you actually have your dream job now?  A freelance writer and editor, able to juggle jobs with personal life with little conflict.  Your panic attacks are gone. 

This other job, you know, would mean a commute, change, maybe a work environment you hate.

But oh, the thrill of it.

You stick with the thoughts of your laughing son, with remembering that you have a pretty great gig now (if not for the money).  You tell yourself you’ll write it all down.

And you’ll write to the company, offering them what you can.

You don’t hear back from them right away, a week later…. You may never hear from them again.

Things get busy in your family life, and a part of you is grateful for this simplicity.  I work when I want, I only take on what I can, my full-time job is raising my son.  These are choices I made years ago, and they have borne their fruit.

I tell myself I’ll write this down.

An ache develops in your lower back.  Your neck is sore and tense.  Does your body ache because you’ve been wrenched from the path you were supposed to follow?  You feel angry sometimes.  You tell no one.

You smile.  You try not to cry as hard as you want to when you’re told you’re a bad cook, or that you’re not in good shape anymore.

Sometimes you can’t keep it to yourself.  One night a very small amount of that – what is it – anger, no, terror at how you’ve betrayed yourself and done something you never thought you’d do – leaks out.  Just a short cry and a few resentful sentences.  Mostly brushed away.

And there are wonderful moments that make what you’ve done seem right.  A happy, secure little boy.  Time to play together, or read a book.  Time at night to read or watch or write.  Stomach pains that don’t need to turn into anxiety.  Plans that aren’t as hard to make.

You console yourself.  You’ll write it down.

Views: 192

Comment by Alysa Salzberg on February 23, 2016 at 3:42pm

It's been a busy month or so - so busy that I haven't been around much here.  Part of it, too, I think, is still being sad and shocked about James's passing. I don't think he'd want me to react that way, though.  I hope you guys have been well...though I see that there's also sad news about another OSer....

Comment by JMac1949 Today on February 23, 2016 at 3:53pm

Look to your son and cherish every moment.  Before you know it he'll be on his way to college and you'll have more than enough time for your dream job.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on February 23, 2016 at 4:03pm

jmac has it right, alysa   wholly

Comment by Julie Johnson on February 23, 2016 at 5:43pm

Hi Alysa!  All I have, is my own personal experience, but I'll share what I have, for what it's worth.  I worked full time, with my first two.  They are 30 and 35 now.  It wasn't bad, but it was almost always hectic and I didn't have any back up.  No moms or grandmas or aunts near by to pick up the slack.  My husband's job paid more, so his always came first when they got sick, or school programs any of that. It was always a choice, and it hurt my jobs.  Notice I say 'job', not a career.  My youngest two, I've stayed at home except for when we owned the laundromat, they could come with me.  There were times, when that was totally frustrating also.  BUT, they're almost grown now too.  16 and 19.  Two separate families, and they get along well enough to compare notes, and can tell me how they felt about it at the time, and how they feel about it now.  They all agree that having me at home, was best for them.  Was it best for me?  Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.  The money part was hard.  We didn't have any extra money, had to make our own entertainment, shopped at Goodwill and never ate out.  What JMac says, not so much.  I went back to work for a company for just a few years, a few years back.  Everything changes, and mommy experience just doesn't count if you want move forward with a company.  With a career like yours, it might be different. The years I took off, worked against me.  I quit that job after just 3 years and came home to work with GB.  Truth?  In my experience, staying with them was best for them and I do have a better relationship with the ones I stayed with, than the ones I didn't.  But, I also tell my daughters, not to quit their day jobs, to have something in reserve to keep up with changing times.  It's not easy, either way.  The other thing is, jobs come and go.  Children are forever.  Yet, then again what about after the children are grown and going back to work doesn't work out so well either?  Aren't I helpful?  

Comment by Jeanne Sathre on February 23, 2016 at 5:55pm

There are time for a lot of things in your life and most don't have expiration dates. The years that your kids are little do. Enjoy them without regret. Good to see you here.

Comment by Phyllis on February 23, 2016 at 6:16pm

The only advice I have is listen to your gut and do what's right for you. There are so many paths to choose, so choose yours and carry on.

Comment by nerd cred on February 23, 2016 at 6:24pm

Aww, that's a sad story, Alysa.

I started to write a long thing about staying home with my kids and their experiences with day care and blah blah blah blah. But hooray for you, you're able to do it the way you want to. That's what counts. I'll just say that if you have to put him in care away from you before you want to, that's ok. Don't beat yourself up. Both ways have great benefits. It sounds right now like you're getting the best of both worlds.

I'm sorry you missed out on your dream job. Maybe it will come around again when J is in school. Maybe a better one will. You're such a good writer I can't believe you won't get great jobs when you're ready.

(And you get to smack anyone who makes a negative comment about your shape, you know. Or at least say something nastier.)

I bought a tunnel for my grand's birthday or something once. Didn't need no stinkin' school. :-) His father turned it into a photo prop.

Comment by koshersalaami on February 23, 2016 at 7:33pm

You got your priorities right. Doesn't make it easy, but you did. 

Comment by Zanelle on February 23, 2016 at 10:56pm

Not easy...I know that the more they grow the more money you wish you had....but money is definitely not everything...you did what you did and thank you for writing about it.  Hugs...

Comment by Veronica Corso on February 24, 2016 at 1:15am

As your son gets older you will have more time for yourself and the things you want to do.

I'm not a natural-born mother, not one of those that can coo over babies and play games all day with pre-schoolers, though I love my boys (now 17 and 21) with a fierceness that overwhelms me sometimes. That doesn't mean I wasn't bored to death a lot of the time when they were toddlers. This alternated with being scared to death because they were out of sight and I just knew they were doing something dangerous (they were climbers from the get-go). Imp 1 used to go on walkabout without saying where he was going and Imp 2 once  went out the kitchen door, climbed into the back seat of the car and fell asleep while I was ironing and not keeping a steady eye on what he was doing.  I spent a very traumatic half-hour trying to find him, certain he'd been snatched from under my nose. The day Imp 2 started kindergarten, I cried and cried all morning missing him. The next day was better and it was a matter of thinking, " now what would I like to do?" 

Be kind to yourself. You don't have to like the mothering gig every single day. You have to do it every single day, but you don't have to like it  all the time.

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