Look Who’s Employable!

Last week between feeding my children delicious organic meals from my hydroponic vegetable garden and knitting free trade clothing for children in Haiti, I managed to find time to go on a job interview.  I dusted off the old business clothes and found that little leather folder thingy that is the must-have accessory for any job interview.  I am pretty sure you are supposed to put some paper in there to complete the look, but I didn’t. My leather thingy was empty, save for a decades-old Bic pen, which had no ink in it.

I got this interview through a friend, L.W.,  with whom I used to work at the Big Fancy law firm where we started our careers.  Both of us left the BFLF and moved on– she to a small real estate firm and me to…well, this.  Because L.W. is taking a new position, she suggested that I interview for her job at the real estate firm.  I hesitated because I don’t think I am ready for a full-time (or anything even close) legal job.  Oh, and I don’t know squat about real estate law, except that I hope to never encounter the rule against perpetuities ever again.

I want to be ready for the next phase of my career, but I know deep down I am not.  When L.W. told me that the Big Chief at her firm was open to having me work part-time I felt I couldn’t refuse to at least interview. (Plus, my therapist insisted I go.  That a**hole.)

I went.  It was an amazing experience.  First, I met with Big Chief who was as amazing of a boss as I could ever conjure up, especially at a law firm.  I didn’t know they even made Big Chiefs like that.  He was interesting, enthusiastic, did not talk about himself the whole time, and seemed unfazed by my lack of experience in real estate law.  When I am ready to work, I hope I do get a boss like Big Chief.  (Guess that means I can’t ever work for myself, but I am not as dynamic or as generous as he is, and I pretty much only talk about myself.)  After meeting with him and then debriefing with L.W., I rode home on the train (where I accidentally left that stupid, empty leather folder thingy) and pictured myself working there.

Except.

Except, I am not ready.   I know in the way I know that I hate Dr. Phil that I am just not ready.  It’s a gut-level knowledge.

So, I called Big Chief and told him what my gut was saying, but not before spending some time in my bedroom breathing into a paper bag because of these messages:

  • How will I ever find part-time work as a mom-lawyer again?
  • Sometimes I get bored, so shouldn’t I go work?
  • What will happen if I take even more time off?
  • What if I regret not becoming Big Chief’s Tonto?
  • What about the money I am foregoing?
  • Sadie will be in school in September, so aren’t I supposed to take a job?
  • Why is this SO F*CKING HARD?
  • Here I go again: taking something positive (like a potential job) and turning it into something negative (like a chance to have a panic attack).
  • I wish Big Chief had hated me so then I wouldn’t have to affirmatively say, “I want to stay home with my kids longer. Please hold that job for 3 years.”
  • What if I resent the kids for this?
  • What if I get fat? (That’s at the bottom of every panic attack.)

I found the courage and the words to tell Big Chief the truth.  And guess what? He was amazing about it.  We agreed to stay in touch.  He actually hinted that I didn’t ask for a high enough salary. (Is he for real?)

Then, I got the kindest letter in the mail from Big Chief, who does not appear to hate me for wanting more time with my kids. Maybe it’s time I let myself off the hook as well.

Big Chief's Letter

Big Chief’s Letter

Anyone else turn down a job and struggle with the voices in your head?  Anyone else know they are not ready, but struggle anyway?

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29 thoughts on “Look Who’s Employable!

  1. You are the bomb! (Does that show my age?) Super proud of you for trusting your gut and a bit jealous that you can make that choice. 🙂 Congratulations! It is rare that we moms get such reassurance that we are doing the right thing.

    • I still feel sort of sick, though!! I am contemplating sending him a copy of this post. But then he may read some of the other posts and learn how horrible my spelling is. Thanks for stopping by and helping this decision seem a little easier.

  2. Holy crap, that is the awesomest letter ever. SOOOO jealous. And yes, I struggle with the same things. Every. SINGLE. Day. Though unlike you I did work in real estate. Maybe I should uproot everyone and move to Chicago for a part time resume booster?

    WHERE ARE FIRMS LIKE THIS IN NEW YORK CITY g@d f*cking d@mn it?!!?!!!?!

    • You did real estate? I am glad I am not the only one who has this struggle. I can ask Big Chief if he has any like-minded colleagues in NYC. If not, at least you have culture and the whole East Coast thing, while we have to look at fanny packs and bad shoes year round.

    • Thanks for sharing this. I am crying as I read it. The problem is that you already have a full time job and being a lawyer would just be another one. It is fucking hard. It is soooo fucking hard and it never gets easier it seems….I am with you. There is so much to say; I could fill an ocean with my stories of regret, sadness and fear. Mostly fear of what will happen to me if I never get a real job again but yet I persist in this stay at home thing because the fear of what my regret will be when this part of my life is over is stronger. The law will always be there but my sons won’t be 10 and 14 except this summer. I know this is right. In my gut and my heart. I care less than I used to about what others think of my choice and I know for me this is the right job for now. The hours suck, the pay is worse, no one praises me, and I hardly every get a holiday but yet it is the best job I have ever had. I hope we can all learn to be at peace with these choices. I am trying…

      • Right! Doesn’t it seem like if my gut knows I am not ready then it shouldn’t be so torturous? I hate the self torture. But when it’s 3:30 pm and Simon won’t nap and I can go into his room and hold him for an hour, then it all seems clear.

  3. First, wow. I’m impressed with you. Second, instead of all the bullshit about the mommy wars, some outlet should cover this. It shows the tug of war so many moms face. Of course, not all of us are being offered rock star gigs but, hey, we can’t all be an Outlaw Mama.

    • Yes media should cover something like this because there is enough hysteria and enough horror stories already floating around. I fancy myself more of a jazzy Muzak star.

  4. I haven’t turned down a job offer yet, but I still end the conversation in my head every night with “Will I get fat?” Just like best friends who haven’t seen each other in years, when I wake up in the morning the conversation resumes where we left off.

    Love the Chief’s letter! I’ll work for him. I’ll shine his shoes, anyway.

  5. My kids started full time school this year, but I’m still home. I was going to write a bunch of reasons why I haven’t gone back to work, but then I decided, “Eff it.” I was an EMT, but now I don’t even know if that’s what I want to do! I’m already fat, though, so that’s one less thing to worry about. 🙂

  6. I had a part time job I attempted to quit and was persuaded to stay. Not nearly as sexy as real estate law – I was working in credit & collections. COMPLETELY outside my comfort zone (accounting), as I try to avoid confrontation at all costs. Calling people to ask why they weren’t paying their bill is not exactly avoiding confrontation. However, I found playing a combination of good cop (I’m sure you have paid your bill and we just misapplied your payment), dumb blonde (“Ummm, hello? I was wondering? Did you receive, um, ya know, an invoice? For your ad?), and therapist (half hour conversation with mom & pop business owner who had maxed out credit cards and was trying to keep business afloat during worst economic times in history – “Yes, I know *exactly* how you feel. My husband has been out of work, too. It’s hard out there. Really hard.) could really work to my advantage. And my boss was supercool and flexible and laid back and understood when I couldn’t come to work because I had to go to Target to buy snacks for my parent help day at my youngest’s preschool. Sadly, I moved and don’t have the part time job and supercool boss and am stuck watching Dr. Phil while children are in school. And my point is? Well, hmmm. I guess I have no point. But good for you for at least having the courage to go to an interview and even more courage for being super honest. (And bonus points for having professional clothing in your closet that fits and is in style!)

    • Oh, who said it was in style? I was definitely right on the edge of style. Your story about your boss reminds me that having a good boss is bigger sometimes than having the great work. My next boss is gonna have to get down with me going to Target to get snacks instead of working! And, we gotta talk about the tv shows you watch. What about Nate Berkus?

  7. The list you created must go through the heads of most stay at home parents. I recently tried to go back to work part time, because I was a little bored at home. I discovered though after a few months that I wasn’t ready to go back and resigned. I was impressed that you went through the interview and were able to think it through before you signed on.

      • I am glad. I know I need to have time to myself and keep my mind more active than taking care of the kids, so I found a babysitter for the summer and am volunteering and spending some quality time solo blogging, reading, going to the gym, and getting massages. Work gave me some time to engage my mind but the hassle trying to find babysitters and making sure everything else ran smoothly around the house was too much. I think this will work out much better for everyone. I get some time not changing diapers and breaking up fights and the kids get a mom who isn’t frustrated all the time. Let’s hope it works 🙂

      • I was just thinking I would like to volunteer….I need to exercise my soul a bit and I want to start before my kids’ schools get all my love. What kind of volunteering have you found that you enjoy? And, a little gym time and ME time goes so far….It’s worth almost any amount of money.

      • I am working with a local agency that provides housing for homeless families and job training to get them back on their feet. I started out going to volunteer with literacy and found tons of areas that I can help with. Maybe this will help fill that void in me that needs to be productive without going back to work.

  8. Here is my experience. Your kids need you when they are babies, and quite frankly, it is too tiring to work full time. When your kids get into school they need you even more. Then you are not in total control of them anymore and you need to be volunteering to see who they are hanging out with. then there will be the inevitable activities that they will join and you will be a full time bus driver. I work part time from home. I took a huge paycut to do it, but it works for my mental health and for our lifestyle. You will find what you need when you need it.

  9. I have another hunch as to why you turned down that job … because deep down you know you are on a path that could lead to your true calling. BTW, I did the same thing – two years ago I took myself out of the running to manage corporate communications at Dr Pepper Snapple Group. My heart just wasn’t in it for many of the same reasons you mention above. One of the hardest, yet best decisions I’ve ever made. Good for you for not letting the “what-ifs” scare you into taking the familiar road. Takes a tremendous amount of courage – and faith in yourself. Proud of you!

    • Wow. What if the world didn’t have Laurem Muchmore yet? That would be sad for us. And you are right, but I still have trouble saying I want to be a w*iter. Scared to say out loud.

      • Rubbish! No one is holding you back except for yourself. There’s nothing stopping you. You’d write us all under the table. Still can’t figure out how in the heck you manage to publish so many, well written, thoughtful and entertaining posts when I can barely get one out a week. *scratches head*

  10. Pingback: 8 Signs You’ve Stumbled on a Passion | Stephanie Saye

  11. I’ve been there. I actually had instances where I received job offers but realized the job itself was wrong and I needed to walk away. 10 years ago I wouldn’t have had the courage and strength to do that, but I’ve learned in the long run, it’s better to be miserable short term than do something you don’t want to do and be miserable long term.

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