About a year ago, Bob and I were having dinner with another couple and the topic of work came up. When I mentioned looking for employment, mentioned being ready to go back to work now that the kids were getting older, my friend’s husband asked what my ideal job would be. I remember pausing to really think about his question and then I replied, “Events, I would love to do something with the execution of special events.”
In an uncharacteristic achievement of a stated goal, last week, I re-entered the workforce. Working in events.
I left full-time employment in 2009, shortly after Charlie was born. Two babies meant we’d entered the Extreme Zone in monthly childcare expenses and at some point, Bob and I decided it would be best for me to hop off the hamster wheel that happened to be our daily schedule with two children and two full-time jobs.
I’ve never been particularly career-driven. For example, there was no real end-goal in mind when I started college besides simply finishing it and even that didn’t seem necessarily like a mandate. I wasn’t like some of my friends who knew they wanted to be pharmacists or attorneys or engineers. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I graduated besides “get a job.” Therefore, I selected the most general liberal arts degree I could declare and muddled my way through. Once I graduated, I basically (to borrow a new favorite term I recently heard) Forrest Gump’ed my way into a couple of great jobs, eventually landing at the U.S. Department of State working in a field that had absolutely nothing to do with my degree.
All this to illustrate that leaving full-time employment was not a difficult decision to make. Not even in the slightest. I wasn’t abandoning a dream or a passion or anything. However, staying at home to solely care for kids was never a particular end-goal of mine, either. Bob and I agreed it simply made the most sense for our family at the time. So, when I left the State Department, I quickly found part-time work in both marketing and freelance writing. Two things that I could do mostly from the comfort of my home. It was a hectic pace but a good kind of hectic. A productive hectic. And, I really enjoyed the events side of my marketing job, planning the logistics of and working on-site at an industry conference a team I worked with had developed. It was really good for me to stay employed. To keep one small grasp on something that was unrelated to child rearing. I was able to be a totally professional adult doing professional adult-y things while still caring for my young children. I was making it all work!
Then, Millie arrived.
Three kids happened to be the tipping point for our family in a lot of ways. Suddenly, we had SO MANY kids and one of the things I had to give up with the addition of a third child was my employment. We were living in Richmond at the time, Bob was working in Washington during the week and I just couldn’t keep the pace required for a part-time job with full-time kids. It turns out, I could not, in fact, Have It All. So, I somewhat reluctantly let go of my outside work. It was just another thing that had to be done. It was something that was now removed from my very busy plate and I was resigned to its necessity, if not slightly dismayed at everything that I had had to sacrifice.
The years ticked by and my kids got older and more independent. Eventually, everybody could get themselves a snack on their own (for the most part), play unsupervised outside (for the most part) and use the potty all by themselves (for the most part). Then, last fall, they were all magically in school at the same time (for the most part). It was momentous. I enjoyed the silence for about fifteen minutes before thinking, I want to go back to work. It’s time. There’s once again room for me to be employed. So, I began sending out my resume in the hopes of finding a part-time position that would mesh well with my skill set and my availability. Bonus points if it was something I actually wanted to do.
After almost a year of looking for the right fit, I have finally found something that checks all of the boxes. I’ve been hired to assist with special events at a local winery. I help make sure weddings and corporate events run smoothly and seamlessly. If I could have hand-picked a job for me right now, it would probably have been this one. I’m ecstatic to be employed again. And, employed doing this line of work.
As a stay-at-home mom, the entire process of finding a new job, while not necessarily stressful, was just super intimidating. At first, I wasn’t sure how to explain the four year absence of employment on my resume and briefly considered adding a line that just read: “2012-2016 – KEPT FAMILY OF FIVE ALIVE THE WHOLE TIME.” (I ultimately decided to hi-light my freelance writing career in that space instead.) It had also been quite awhile since I’d interviewed in-person for a job (since 2002 actually, when I interviewed with BOB), a long time since I had answered questions about my strengths and weaknesses, a long time since I had considered wearing pants that actually buttoned. It was hard to shift from the part of my brain dedicated to kid minutiae to the part of my brain that needs to be all professional and stuff. At times during the search, it just felt so hard to break back in. But, break back in I did!
As I sat talking with Bob the other evening about my first week at work, I tried to explain to him how nice it was to have a thing again. To have a little space, a little corner in my life that is reserved for something I want to do, something I’d like to pursue. As moms who stay at home full time with little ones, it can be really hard to carve out some space that is just for us, to do something or follow something that interests us. I’m so thankful to have found the space to take on this new venture.