I’ve been having a low-grade existential crisis ever since my daughter was born.
Why am I here? What am I doing with my life? Do I really need a shower today? Some days the answer to all of these is a second cup of coffee and some Febreeze.
But seriously, I never pictured myself as a SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom),, so the identity shift of this past year has been profound for me. It’s a mentally challenging, physically limiting and socially crippling job (again, for me. I have friends who handle it waaay better than I have been able to). I signed up for it, and the trade-offs are great, but handling the enormity of the change is hard. Being a SAHM calls for a redefinition of identity on every possible level.
But I adapted to a passable level of competence and was enjoying watching my daughter grow. Around about a year, it became obvious that 1) She needs more variety of experience than hanging out with me all the time, and 2) We need two incomes in the family again.
So I went looking for an outside-the-home job. I didn’t have many hopes or expectations of finding anything like a ‘good job’ in this market. I would have settled on anything that had decent pay and benefits. Still, I aimed higher than I expected to achieve, and after a few months had two promising prospects. One was, I was sure, my dream job in every way. It was with a theatre company in Atlanta that I have long adored. Nothing more perfect would ever be dropped into my lap. The other prospect was a successful start-up that had reached the point of growth which I knew meant it had lots of potential. I could do an entire blog post on all the little things about this company that impressed me. But I won’t do that to you.
Long story short(er), I did several interviews with each company. With each interview, my ‘dream job’ looked less and less like what I needed and the other job looked more and more promising. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.
So I got offered the job on a Tuesday with the promising startup, got childcare set up with an awesome in-home provider who I trust, and started the job the following Monday- this past Monday, to be exact.
What company, you may ask? No names here- I’m keeping my pro and private online life as separate as is possible (if you really want to know, it’s on LinkedIn. How separate is anything online these days?). But I will say this: it’s a property management company that builds senior living facilities across the southeast. I’m their Brand Manager and Project Manager. Among many other things, I’m responsible for making sure that all the different communities present the same polished, dignified image on all the different social media platforms.
Basically, I’m doing this:
I’m also running projects and coordinating various parts of getting the online presence of new properties up and running. It sounds a bit abstract, but it’s wonderful. I can work exactly how I work best- on projects and with autonomy. I can get done what I need to get done, and I’m trusted (like an adult should be) to do what I need to do without being micromanaged. It’s perfect for me on many, many levels….I can honestly say that I’ve never been this excited about a job before. Ever. I’ve never been in a job that I thought I could do for the rest of my working life, but I think I’d like to do that here. We’ll see.
I’m still on the first week high; the novelty of getting dressed (regular personal hygiene has been lacking for quite a while), going to work in an office with adults (who ACT LIKE ADULTS), being left to get my stuff done, all of this has me floating on a cloud of happiness. The sky seems bluer, sleep seems sweeter, food seems tastier…you get it. You’ve felt it. It may have been a while, but you’ve felt the all-encompassing power of novelty.
So that’s where I’m at. I’ve got an office job that I love so far, a caregiver for my daughter whom I trust, and am adjusting to life in the professional world again. I will say, there are some SAHMs I will miss hanging out with on a regular basis. They helped retain my sanity for a while- it was a close thing too- but I think I may be better off now back at a full time position. Some people can be stay-at-home parents and find the balance they need to stay sane. For a variety of reasons, I am not one of those people.
That’s the update from Howellville. We’re getting more sleep here now. So we’re nicer.