Getting A ‘Real Job’

Getting A ‘Real Job’

I am no stranger to working outside the home. I have spent many years juggling multiple jobs. In fact, I had 3 jobs concurrently in college, and for my sixteenth birthday, my dad got me a job interview at the new chicken place opening by my house.

I am no stranger to working outside the home.  I have spent many years juggling multiple jobs.  In fact, I had 3 jobs concurrently in college, and for my sixteenth birthday, my dad got me a job interview at the new chicken place opening by my house.  No kidding.  My $500 car that I was eventually able to buy from my uncle always smelled like greasy fowl and became a stray cat clubhouse in my parents’ driveway.

I was working two jobs the year before I became pregnant for the first time.  I had pared it down to one by the time I found out I was pregnant and was conveniently let go 3 months before my due date.  Don’t worry, they were slick.  They had hired me as an independent contractor and did a few bogus performance reviews before escorting me and my big baby belly to the door.  I was pretty upset at the time.  Getting fired sucks, but honestly, it was one of those “the new boss doesn’t like me” situations, and not taking the subway for an hour with a barf bag every day was not the worst thing.

I had no idea how a 6-month pregnant woman was going to get a job.  I mean, seriously!  So, my husband and I did some number-crunching and decided we could afford me staying home and raising our child.  Till then, I basically hung out in the depths of pregnancy hell, eating crappy food, puking, and watching every “Law and Order” marathon I could find until the contractions started.

My husband and I were both smitten with our tiny daughter, and while he went to work, I devoted every second of every day to my swaddle baby, infant, toddler, preschooler, and her brother who came along four years later.

As my second child got older, I started hearing things like, “When are you going back to work?” and “Get a real job,” from a few people, and I have to say, that really pissed me off.  If I was a nanny, I would have been doing a lesser version of the exact same work I was doing with my own kids, so I was doing a “real job.”  I just wasn’t getting paid by the hour.  I didn’t have my kids to pawn them off, and since working outside the home wasn’t a necessity at the time, I didn’t have to, so kiss my SAHM ass!  The truth is, 24-hour parenting is hard.  I have met several women over the years who were on maternity leave and couldn’t wait to get back to work where things are more organized, people are respected, and the odds of someone peeing on you are pretty much nonexistent, that is unless you work in a daycare, senior care, hospital or fetish club.

As time went on, like many women, I wanted to add to my life.  I was ready to take on more responsibilities, and bigger kids bring bigger expenses.  The thing is, I had left the radio business, an industry that was drastically changing, mainly consolidating, cutting back, and getting less personal and creative,  so returning to that field was not only difficult, even with all of my experience, but I wasn’t sure I even wanted to go back.  I wouldn’t trade my years of on-air radio, creating and executing awesome promotions, hosting events, stage announcements, and band interviews for anything.  I mean, I met Kid Rock’s parents at their house for a BBQ.  A guy got a tattoo of me on his leg.  Those were the days, and they were awesome, but maybe it was time to move on.  Plus my lifestyle had changed.  Don’t get me wrong, my soul will never really shed my “Queen of Rock” persona, but my availability was limited.  My kids had to be picked up from school at various times, fed, taken to activities, fed again, and whatever else.  I wasn’t available full-time anymore, so my options were sparse.  I actually applied for a couple of jobs in radio, for which I was more than qualified, but I just wasn’t able to give them the time and flexibility they needed.  I couldn’t do interviews spur of the moment, and be out until 4am at concerts.  I had to pick up my kids, and my husband travels sometimes for his job.  We have no family anywhere near us, so It wasn’t happening, and I didn’t want to talk myself into a job to which I couldn’t fully commit.

So, what’s a middle-aged, time-restricted, college-educated mother with a belly ring and a Robert Plant autograph tattoo supposed to do in this situation?  I guess what every mom re-entering the work force does:  take a serious inventory of your needs and goals, and take a step.  A real step in some direction, and not necessarily a path you had been on or even noticed before.

So, that’s what I did.  My needs were compatible school hours.  My goals were getting back to helping people.  My favorite part of radio had been making so many people happy.  Music really helps people in so many ways.  I like getting that smile, and if it goes along with a lesson or memory that can bring the smile back, even better.  In my case, like many parents, I turned to the school system.  Compatible hours, check!  Social opportunity to help, check!  So I got the word out that I was looking and checked the DOE website regularly.  I even took prerequisite substitute teacher classes so I would have them done if something came along, and eventually, it did.

So, now I am a substitute aide for my school district, with my eyes open for a full-time position, should one become available.  It’s not a job I necessarily aspired to do, but I must say, I am enjoying it quite a bit.  College did not prepare me at all for this job, but being a mom did, and I feel like I am putting my skills to good use.  And I’m learning a lot!  Like how little free time our children have in school compared to what we had, and how much more kids know now at younger ages.  Technology has given them information at their fingertips, so patience is becoming a lost art (which I am trying to put onto the radar of the kids I interact with!).

Other options I considered were working early shifts at stores I like (hello employee discount!) or part-time office work.  Getting back into the rat race can also entail starting your own business or going back to school for acupuncture, or real estate, or whatever floats your boat into the ocean of whatever mom accommodations you need.

I think the important part about going back to work is that you don’t feel like you are unreasonably sacrificing your motherhood goals.  You will never be happy doing anything if you feel like a loser for missing your kids’ activities, and what really is the point of reentering the work force to pay for child care?  Don’t be bullied by other parents who belittle you for not punching the clock.  Frankly, how you work out your family dynamic is no one’s business outside of your family.  The people who were never stay-at-home parents, they have their own systems that are different from yours, and don’t let them tell you they don’t feel like they have missed out on pieces of their kids’ lives.  They have, just as you have been stranded on your rung of the corporate ladder.  But it’s your choice, and that’s okay.

Yes, it is absolutely mind-blowing to look up from the trenches of parenthood and realize that you are no longer who you were.  But regardless of what happened with your career, you are an evolved version of yourself, and as George Elliot said, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”  You are raising a child.  You are already doing the hardest, most valuable job there is.

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1 Comment on this Post

  1. Sheila Chinn

    Nice one, Mar. Enjoy your work. Teaching kids is one of the most rewarding things outside of being a mum! xxx