Probably the second most frequently asked question I get, behind only “how did you get so devastatingly gorgeous, Aunt Becky?” (answer: genetics, baby) and “will you look at the rash on my genitals?” (answer: probably not) is this: “when are going back to work?”
The question is more loaded than it sounds, and it makes me more empathetic to my infertile friends than they probably think I could be, because the answer has always been a gut rolling “I don’t know.”
Truthfully, the answer is another question, “go back to work doing what?” but it seems that telling your whole sordid tale to a stranger in line at the grocery store is probably better left unsaid. Instead, I sort of laugh as gaily as I can, masking how uncomfortable I am, and say, “Oh probably when the kids are in school.”
After my son Ben was born, I was sort of adrift, a half a bachelors degree in biology which was doing fuck-nothing for me whatsoever besides making me feel like sort of a chump. I ended up carefully deciding to go to nursing school, the lesser of two evils, knowing I was going to be a single mother, and knowing that I would need to support Ben and I.
I slogged through it miserably. I don’t know if words can express how truly miserable it made me.
Maybe they can. You know that job that you had some time in your life? Maybe it was flipping burgers or being stuck under a Fearless Leader of a boss who micromanaged the shit out of your every move, I don’t know. That’s your story. But you would wake up every day dreading work, and go home from work, sick because you knew you had to wake up and go back?
That was nursing school. My satisfaction was beating the shit out my GPA and acing tests. Wiping butts, dealing with the overcrowding/under-staffing, I couldn’t do it. Nursing is a calling, and those who do it are friggin’ saints. I mean that.
I’d walk past the science buildings and feel just sad, because that was where I belonged. Making coffee from Bunsen burners in the lab, TA-ing in BioChemistry and tutoring for Pathophysiology, that was where I was meant to be.
And I wasn’t there.
I understood unrequited love, all right.
I graduated some variation of cum laude, got my nursing license and then made a grave tactical error: I got a job doing precisely what I swore I wouldn’t do because I thought I could fake it ’til I made it. I couldn’t.
I did case management, primarily for hospice, until I got pregnant with Alex, and I’ve been home ever since. This isn’t where I intend to stay, and Dave asked me shortly after I had Mimi if I wanted to go back to work.
“Sure,” I said to him, as we looked at mini-vans. “What would I do?”
We both looked at each other blankly for awhile until we cracked up. While I am very good at a lot of things like ordering my kids around, trying to do as little work as possible while spouting off random opinions about things (purple IS a flavor, dammit!), I couldn’t tell you a damn thing I’d do for a job.
Holding crack babies? I could hold babies. I’m squishy and soft and babies like me.
I could be a foreman at a construction site and wear a hardhat, because I look good in hats and I like to yell. Plus, a megaphone would be great fun.
Maybe I could even run a blog and spout of my random opinions about things! (purple IS a flavor, dammit!)
And that bothers me. I love my children, they love me, and I do a decent job making sure that all of our trains run on time.
I need more.
So I’m doing more. Finally.
I know I mentioned it couple of weeks ago, but I’ve looked into it more closely (read: more than just a flitting thought wafting through my mind) and I think that I’m really going to give it a shot.
Writing, I mean. Not just my book stuff, which is slowly going, but freelancing articles. I’m dipping my toes into the freelance world and seeing if I can find my way.
I know it’s not exactly something that I can just be all HELLO WORLD, I AM TOTALLY HERE, NOTICE ME, but I’m as annoying and tenacious as a yappy small lap dog. I don’t expect anything to be dropped onto my plate**, and maybe nothing will ever come of it, but it’s kind of nice to feel like I might have a direction besides cloudy with a chance of shit-storm.
Who knows where I’ll end up, because nothing ever seems to progress in a linear direction, now does it?
For now, though, for right now, I finally feel as though I found my missing piece.
How did you find your way? Or did you find it at all?
**If you’d like to drop a zillion dollars onto my plate, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You should know that I very recently found out that I am related to SEVERAL Nigerian princes! I got emails from them and everything! I am going to be a millionaire as soon as this money they’re wiring me hits my bank account.