Friday, May 26, 2006

End of an Era...

Well, it is official. The end of the school year. And I am now no longer employed...

I suspect that I may be guilty of composing a meandering, introspective, navel-gazing post here. So you may want to skip this one and come back later for the usual.
(I finished a scarf and a new freezer paper stencil that I'll share soon, honest.)

Still with me? Don't say you weren't warned....

I've known that this has been coming for a long time - I knew that I would not be returning to the preschool where I have worked for 4 years. Also - I had every chance to put together a resume and apply other places. Heck, I even had an unsolicited job offer to teach, to which I said "Thank you for thinking of me, but No Thank You" to.
So even though returning to my former employer was not an option, the only thing stopping me from seeking other employment was me. And I chose not to.
So why do I feel so untethered?

Is it because I've pretty much always worked? Ever since I was 16 and old enough to get my first job, I've always been employed in one way or another.

And I'll admit - I used to be the biggest workoholic.
Somewhere in college, I became that girl. You know, the one who is just driven, driven, driven? Who joins any and every activity that interests her, burning the candle at both ends with little regard to emotional or social wellbeing? Who eagerly accepted any and all responsibilities, and will kill herself to do the best possible job?
Then I graduated, and came to Atlanta. I was hired right out of school and entered into a v. large corporation's "Executive Training Program" and was determined that I would climb further and faster and higher than anyone. And I did a pretty good job of it, and managed to get my "dream job" within the company - Training Manager - in less than 18 months. Which was unheard of. I kept that job until the company went spectacularly bankrupt, and eliminated the Training Department. All the other trainers were "let go" - I managed to wrangle a promotion out of it, to Personnel Manager. Which I hated - whereas in Training, you always got to the be the "good guy", it seemed like in Personnel, you were pretty much the bad one. No one seemed to remember that you were the one who hired them, just that you were the one who could fire them.

So I decided that teaching was really where my heart was - and I left to become a Computer Software Trainer. And pretty much carved out a new path there, as well. I managed to get on a track to become certified by Lotus, and killed myself to get all kinds of levels of achievement. I could bore you, but I won't. Suffice to say that once again, I threw myself into it and worked all the freaking time. No time for friends, social activities, a life. Good thing that Bubba loves me - I don't know that I would have put up with my schedule/priorities.

I left that job after Schecky was born - much to everyone's surprise. I was so career-oriented, etc. that everyone expected me to go right back to work, and honestly, I kind of expected to, as well. However, getting put on bed-rest for 19 weeks while pregnant with the Scheckster was a real eye opener. It turns out that I do not get pregnant easily. And once I do get pregnant, it's even harder for me to stay pregnant. Hence, the 19 weeks on the couch.
Which was an eye-opener. I realized that I just wasn't happy. I really didn't have any friends - and why should I have? I didn't make time for anyone, or anything, that wasn't work. Some revamping was in order...

So, I stayed home with the Scheckster. But I always had a little something something on the side. Maybe some freelance training, maybe some website development. Once he started school, I started teaching there - and stayed even after he left. Even though my priorities had changed, my husband and my child came first, and I no longer allowed work to define me.

Or so I thought? Is it possible that my dinky 2 1/2 day a week job did define me somewhat? It was something that gave my week definition - I am not happy with too many choices in life, or too much wide open time. It makes me restless and scares me to a degree.... I was good at it, or at least I felt like I was good at it. And I felt like what I did was important, although many would disagree. I do recognize that many in our society see teachers as they do the postman or the garbage carrier - a deliverer of a necessary service, nothing more.

And society doesn't know quite what to make of you if you are not employed - I've already sensed this just in the past month or so when it was determined that I would not be coming back.* People have been asking me what am I going to do - and their reactions are almost comical. If I try to tell any version of the truth - I'm not sure, I want to take some time to figure out what I want to do before I jump into the next thing, I want to spend more time on the house, etc. - their eyes glaze over and they immediately begin searching for another companion with whom to talk. Men and women alike are guilty of this. It's very frustrating....
Although, to be fair, maybe it's just me. My uncertainty may be the turnoff, I don't know....

I'm come up with a smart-alec answer, and now reply "I'm beginning my new career as trophy wife" - which usually elicits a chuckle, but at least it's not a conversation killer.

And is it so wrong that I don't know? Is it so wrong that my days of needing to set the world afire are beyond me? I'm not nearly as impressive, but I am a lot more placid, and yes, I think happier. And whereas I might have been more fun to talk to for 5 minutes at a cocktail party (if I could have been bothered to go) because we could talk shop then, I think that now I am a much better listener and definitely a better friend.

Is it bad that I have gotten to a place in my life where I am happy to just be an Indian, I don't have to be the chief? And if that is politically incorrect, I apologize...
My needing-to-lead days are over. I don't need to overwhelm or impress you anymore. I just need you to know that I am every bit as intelligent, and a reliable as always. I'll be on the darn PTA, I just don't need to be the president. I'll make the cupcakes for the class party, I just don't want to be the room mom... And now, I will always have time for you, I'll be there as a friend when you need me, and I'll understand when I don't hear from you for long spells at a time, because you are out there setting the world on fire...

This really is what I think I want for right now....and I want some time to figure out what I want long term. For the longest time, I have thought that I would love, love, love to be a librarian. Is that weird to have librarian envy? And now is some time to contemplate that...

So why, why, why is that so weird? Why are people so dismissive? And why, even though I say that it is not going to bother me, is it obviously weighing on me???

* * * * *

Oh my word - I took a break from proof-reading this (and yes, I occasionally proofread - surprising, I know, given my uneasy grasp on the English language and basic writing skills) and I found that Geeky Mom** was talking about this very sort of thing! Only far more eloquently than me, as usual! I do love me some Geeky Mom
Let's hear it for Average!!!!!
It may not be exciting, but it's pleasant.
and what the hell is wrong with that???

< /ranting and raving>
< / indecisive whingeing >
< more yarn-y things will come, I promise>
< enjoy your long weekend>
< kisses >
< my word this was a long post - if you made it all the way though, you deserve a drink! >

*I just realized that this sounds all mysterious - like "What the heck happened????" Long story short, the director of the school where I worked decided that one-year-olds should not be in preschool programs. The biggest motivator being money - the class doesn't make a lot of it. So my two-day-a-week position was eliminated. I was offered a different job at the school, five days, but that is not in the best interest of me or my family, so I declined....

**You may need to scroll down the page to "Wednesday, May 24th -- Average".


Laurie said...

You'll find it. Whatever "it" may be!!!

Laura said...

You've had me laughing the whole time I was reading this because I was thinking, holy crap, there's some kind of esp going on here.

I've had that experience of people looking at me funny all the time. When Geeky Boy was born, I worked until we moved and then I quit work while I figured out what I wanted to do. If I'd just said, I'm a stay at home mom, I think they would have been okay, but I said things like, "I'm trying to decide what to do with my life, what I want to contribute." They didn't like that.

Do you ever think about whether your parents went through this at our age? I'm thinking Janie wasn't really contemplating her place in life too much at 38. Maybe she should have been . . .

The Caretaker said...

I made it all the way thru; AND I am having a drink.

I think you should take your time on deciding your next move.

I'm pretty old-school. I think there should be more moms who are actually moms (as opposed to part-time-moms.) I'm more suspicious of people who go immediately back to work after sqeezing out a kid. Makes me wonder why they had a kid in the 1st place. So, I have huge respect for any parent who spends more time parenting than career-ing.

capello said...

Oh, yes, little miss go-go-go-achieve-achieve-achieve. I've been there too, and it is exhausting.

Wherever you choose to go next, it is your choice and I hope you find comfort and pleasure in your new endeavers.

bekka said...

now i understand why you're my friend:
librarian envy.

how cool is that?

you so ought to go to library school. i don't think there's one in ga. but there are plenty of distance ed. progams that you could do online.

think about it seriously, and if you have any questions, i'll be happy to answer them for you.

when i was in LS (UNCG), there were a lot of teachers who enrolled because they wanted out of the classroom and into the library/media center. Teachers burn out so easily.

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