Next week, I will step back into the world of full time employment for the first time since my daughter was born. That was nearly seventeen years ago.
I had all kinds of plans to go back sooner, but there was always a good reason not to. First, there was my daughter. Then, less than two years later, my son. If you’ve ever been in the “two under two” club, you know it’s a time of tremendous joy mixed with mountains of diapers and absolutely no sleep. I don’t think I was truly coherent for about four years or so.
But I was going to go back to work once they were both in school full time, and in New Jersey, that meant Kindergarten. Now, as a reminder, I had been a family law attorney before I had children, and when I say to you that I cannot imagine a more soul-sucking employment than family law attorney, I am being completely honest. Evil overlord, maybe? But evil overlords always seem to be having so much fun. There’s really nothing fun about watching people tear their lives apart and worse, having to help them do it, even when you know what they want to do is a truly bad idea. I can count on one hand the times when I felt uplifted and energized by my work as an attorney, times when I felt like I had truly done the right thing, a good thing — and I can tell you that I didn’t make a single penny on those cases. I always say that in family law, you see good people at their worst. It’s depressing, and it’s exhausting.
So. Yeah. I wasn’t looking forward to going back to that, even on a part time basis.
But then an amazing thing happened. My husband and I, after years of being unhappy in the northeast and after agonizing months of debate and consideration, decided to move to Colorado. I spent months preparing the house to be sold: emptying closets, donating, selling, dumping, cleaning, staging, packing, packing, packing… And then we moved, and at the other end, there was cleaning, unpacking, painting, organizing, unpacking, shifting things around, shopping, restocking, unpacking… This is all without even mentioning all the work of getting settled in a new place: learning our way around, meeting new people, making friends, finding doctors, getting to know teachers, establishing roots.
The years flew by.
I volunteered at the kids’ schools a lot. There was always something I could offer. A lesson on poetry, or Old English, or writing, or how the legal system works. I dug in deeper with a middle school classroom and worked over the course of a month with a middle school class on creative writing — that one became a regular part of my life, once a year for four years, even after my son left the school. You can read about some of those adventures here on this blog.
All the while I was working on novels and trying to get published. Perhaps not as diligently as I could have, but still. Working. Moving forward.
I felt like I wanted to work but I didn’t want to be a lawyer. Besides, to be a lawyer in Colorado, I would have had to take the bar exam here. Thanks, but no thanks. Once in my life was plenty. I kept hoping that the right work would find me, that the universe would bring something to me if I was open to it.
Totally naïve and ridiculous. But it worked.
And so, as of only a few days from now, I will begin teaching writing to college freshmen. Get that? I am teaching at a college! A big, nationally known, high quality, state university. I can’t even tell you how excited I am. And while I am also (understandably) nervous, I am feeling confident. I know that I’ll be good at this. I know I have a lot to offer. Unlike lots of other jobs I could have gotten, with this one, I know I’m going to be good.
There are going to be changes. My kids are going to have to pitch in more with dinner and laundry, and I think that’s a good thing for them. I will have a lot more to do, but I know I’m one of those people who is more effective when she is busy. I’ll get the important things done. However, I’ve never been terribly consistent with this blog and I’m afraid I will be more erratic than ever.
You’ll forgive me, won’t you?
Because it’s totally going to be worth it.