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: 193

Comment by Sheila Luecht on February 24, 2016 at 9:57am

The time you spend with your children matters, and believe me it pays it's own dividends. There is time for more when they are grown. You are a gifted writer, that gift does not go away, it actually grows. 

Comment by vzn on February 24, 2016 at 12:47pm

noticed that line about "these are choices you made years ago" ... as for being in good shape... its a lifelong struggle/ commitment but life sure has a lot of others also... 

Comment by Julie Johnson on February 25, 2016 at 5:22am

What everybody else says, just keep writing it down!  

Comment by Alysa Salzberg on March 4, 2016 at 2:51pm

Thanks so much for your comments, support, insight, and and ideas (and also for that cool photo, Nerd Cred!), guys. 

I'm sorry I couldn't reply sooner.  Life, work, and the flu got in the way. But what I've read here is so comforting and clear and helpful. Thank you all.

And Julie, thanks for sharing your concern about the need to keep up a career so it's not harder to find work when my kid/s is/are grown or older. I totally agree with you.  That's one of the reasons I've continued writing, copy editing, etc.  In fact, I went into business for myself right around when we started seriously planning to have a family.  So my resume will always show something going on.  Hopefully that will help if I ever find another dream career.


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