It’s been a very busy few weeks with back to school. Not just because Byron is now back in his pre-school routine, but because I have returned to work full time.
The last time I worked full time, I was a married, childless twenty-something living in Somerville, MA. For four years I commuted an hour to the South Shore to work at a therapeutic school as a Clinician and Music Therapist. I loved my job, but Tim and I were struggling to make ends meet as the price of living in the greater Boston area rose. Tim got a job offer in WI, we moved a few months later, and I struggled to find my professional footing in the new city.
Because Jack Byron came so quickly and easily into our lives, I did not have a chance to establish a career path for myself before his birth. So I focused on being a mother.
Being a stay-at-home mom was not something that I ever planned to be. At Mount Holyoke, I was made to believe that such a path was a waste of my intellect and education. My creative energy felt lost in the endless days of diapers and board books and stroller walks. I established a small private practice, which kept a foot in the professional world and contributed to our family finances, but mothering my two children became my focus.
A big part of this choice was our situation. Tim was working 60+ hours a week, and we shared one car. Childcare in Madison was astronomical, and 40+ hours a week for two kids would have negated any pay I might have brought home. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to focus on my children and put hot dinners on the table every night, so that’s what I did. I was a stay-at-home mom with a long line of letters after her name and a mountain of student loan debt. And it was ok.
After Tim died, I had to stay home out of pure necessity. I was not in a mental space to work as a therapist. My mood was volatile and my trauma was easily triggered. I didn’t have the energy or focus needed to sustain a clinical practice. I wanted to make sure my kids were ok. The finances allowed it. So I continued to be a stay-at-home-single-mom.
This summer, though, life started to shift. I started to feel grounded and motivated. I had learned how to reclaim some sense of happiness and my post-traumatic stress responses decreased. I began to feel suffocated in the endless day-to-day monotony of a child-centered existence. Nobody appreciated the hot dinners I put on the table anymore. I was left alone at night with my thoughts. There was no adult in my home to share my day with, to ask me how I was, to care for me in any small way. I started to feel that being alone with my children 24/7 was no longer beneficial to any of us. So I sat down with a glass of wine and updated my resume.
I was not sure what kind of position I would find in this area, or what the pay might be. I planned to focus on private practice, which would allow me the time and flexibility to continue working the other part-time job I’ve held since last August. But one day a position fell out of the sky, and I went for it.
And I got it.
So here I am, several weeks later. I work full time as a Guidance Counselor at the local elementary school my kids do/will attend. I. Love. It. While I do not have the degree or license normally expected of the position, my background and experience is a combination that lends itself perfectly to such a position. I’m energized at the end of the day instead of mentally depleted. I’m excited by the work that I’m doing. Better yet, my KIDS are doing better. We have a sense of routine and structure that was lacking before, we appreciate our time together more. We are more whole.
I’m proud of myself for being able to support my family in this way. For taking the scary step into the unknown territory of full-time-single-working-mom. For reestablishing myself socially and professionally.
It feels like a big step, and important step, a step that needed to happen.
Never would I have imagined in this position, in this town, in this job, in this life.
But here we are.
We are making it work. It’s working for us.