Sunday, January 14, 2007

I've fallen off the wagon...

I'm not sure which wagon I should comment on first here--the non-working wagon or the non-working OUT wagon, but I guess I will start with the former.

Many years and many pregnancy-induced stretchmarks ago, long before I was a mom, I was a classic workaholic. I gave of myself a ridiculous amount of hours to a job where I made half of what my peers at other companies made, and yet I still continued to kill myself for a company at which I got very little respect from upper management. (Granted, I made some lifelong friends at this job during these work-until-you-are-sick-hours. We all bonded over the sheer injustice of it all, I suppose.) But, by the time I left that job for a 50 percent pay increase, I was confident that my workaholic ways were long behind me. No, never again would I burn that kind of midnight oil for a job. My mental and physical health was more important that that!

The next few years were filled with first a job that I had little passion for, thanks to extreme burnout from the previous sweat shop job, and then another job in a different city where I slowly inched my way towards workaholic tendencies. The latter job was quickly nipped in the bud when I got pregnant with my first child.

And, it's all been bon-bon eating and soap-opera watching since then, folks!

(If you are a stay-at-home parent or any sort of parent, or if you read this blog ever, you know that last line is a load of BS! Parenting is, by far, the hardest job I have ever held!)

But, honestly, my work tendencies were converted to a more domestic sort. Sure, I go through bouts of insomnia worrying about the next day's to-do list or my latest worries about my kids, but it isn't the same as those idealistic early years out of college when I killed myself for "the man."

I've never quite felt I was 100 percent cut out to be a stay-at-home parent, to be honest. There have always been moments that I've missed work, missed the camaraderie and adult interaction. And, in my lowest parenting moments, I bring to the surface all my insecurities about my abilities as a mother and remember how confident I always felt in my career.

As the years have gone by (almost eight years now which is hard to believe), I have dabbled in some part-time work editing and writing marketing white papers, and so forth. And, I had thoroughly convinced myself that I was DONE with my previous career.

No, if I went back to full-time employment it would be writing what I want to write about, not some instructions for a piece of computer software that no one reads anyway! I would be the uber-cool freelance magazine writer. Or, I'd go back to school to become a teacher, a psychologist, or...well, something gave to society and made a difference damn it!

And, then I got a phone call a few weeks ago. It was from a technical writing peer of mine who remembered my volunteer work for our professional organization. He'd started his own consulting business and was looking for someone like me--someone who only wanted to work 10-20 hours a week for now. He began to rattle off the job description and it was as if a switch went off in my head.
Must. Return. To. Work. Miss. Job. After. All.

And in the recesses of my brain somewhere, a tiny mechanical voice was shouting for my attention:
Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!
Yeah, I ignored that last voice, chalking it up flashbacks of my teen (couch potato) years watching old campy reruns from the '60s and '70s.

I should have listened to the robot.

I jumped into the work and did a great job on my first assignment. And, while I realized that I had completely forgotten I actually LIKED my old career, I forgot to lock old Ms. Workaholic in the closet when I took on the job. And, Ms. Workaholic jumped out and took over my brain and my life for a good two weeks, all the while convincing me that it was just for this one job...just to prove myself to the new employer. Just until the next hit...uh, I mean contract.

I did prove myself and felt that surge of confidence that comes from a job well done. And, I made a nice chunk of change that will help payoff the holiday bills. Should the work fairy continue to bring me these blessed contracts, it will also help pay for the maid for which I have been fantasizing for five long years.

But, as I sit here lamenting about my few weeks of obsessive 2 a.m. working, and the crappy way I dropped workouts (and blogging) and all that I'd been focusing on in the months prior to the contract job, I realize that I must find some balance if this part-time work is going to every fly for me. But, not just that, I have to find some balance now, before I am ready for full-time work again when my kids are both in school.

And, there is that--the realization that I do want to return to working full-time when they are in school. I miss work. I don't know how to balance myself with work, but I miss it. And I eventually want my old career back in my life.

But, for now, I hope to find a way to combine this part-time contracting with my volunteer work at my church, all while helping out at the kids' schools and all my other involvements. I hope that I can juggle all of those bon-bons (uh, I mean balls) in the air and still enjoy my life. Sigh, alas, past history tells me that life will not slow down long enough for me to get all the balls up in the air, before a bowling pin is added into the mix and I am thrown completely out of whack!

So, at the very least, I will make the wish that I can keep the dark closet, in which I have Ms. Workaholic padlocked, shut and my work time only to the hours before midnight. That, and that maybe between work and all of this bon-bon eating, I hope I still time to blog!


Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

I think we were separated at birth!

I find my life is such a balancing act. If I work, then I don't work out. If I write then I don't read. If I cook for my family, then I gain weight.

Where's the happy medium???

7:36 AM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Nicole said...

I have been thinking about getting a part-time job, too. I also miss adult conversation and getting a paycheck. I just don't know how I would do it without disrupting all of our lives. And someone would lose husband mostly. But since all three boys will be in school of some sort this fall, maybe that will give me some breathing room. Keep us updated on what you do with your job! You never cease to amaze with all your juggling and energy!

10:40 AM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Babs said...

This is another way we're so alike! One of the problems of being a workaholic is that it's so rewarded in our society... it's an easy way to get an ego boost. And it's especially bad if you're a perfectionist. As a writer, there's almost always a better way to write something... so you can really drive yourself crazy.

Even if you don't end up with a "paying" job, I think it's very important for you to have something that's all yours. You need to have an identity beyond being a Mom and a wife, IMHO. But hey, what do I know? ;)

3:34 PM, January 15, 2007  

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