What’s next for me?
This past summer I thought I had my next move figured out. I wanted to go back to work. Easy as that. I was done with this stay-at-home mom gig after nearly four years, and I desperately needed a career to fulfill me again.
I even went “all in” and started asking former colleagues and friends for leads. I met with a former co-worker whom I simply admire, and we shared our career struggles over lunch – her as a new working mom, and me as a long-time stay at home. I had coffee with a college professor and mentor, a brilliant man who I had not spoken with in nearly five years, and tried to figure out the best path for someone in my small town, work history gap situation. I had a phone meeting with a fellow college alumna, a mostly stranger, who is currently working in a field that I think I would like to enter – travel planning. I went so far as to reach out to her boss to try and see if there was any availability at the company.
I got no response.
I applied at various Authorized Disney Vacation Planner travel agencies. I filled out applications in Comic Sans font, for companies with ridiculously cliche names. I got one response, only because I mentioned that I could quote 98 percent of “Moana” in my email. I know I could do it better on my own, as my own business, but for the life of me I cannot figure out how to make that happen. I’m all ears for tips on this one, BTW.
I applied with a professional organization in Indianapolis for a part-time job. It was an organization I used to win awards from while in college, and a job I was more than qualified for to say the least. I got an interview.
And then I had a panic attack and turned it down.
Where am I going?
I spend my days giving away my professional talents for free. There are some stretches of time where I am completely content with where I am – I’m a mom of two, who directs a county-wide color guard program on the side. I design emails and graphics for my in-laws’ dance studio, and for the local marching band. Occasionally I’ll do some PR or media relations work for a local company who don’t understand the metro media market, or I’ll freelance a small town newspaper article for a group who doesn’t have anyone to write for them.
But is that really all I want to do with my abilities? Or is that enough?
When I watch television, or follow successful enterpreneurs on social media, and I always notice peoples’ age. Did you know Mandy Moore, the star of my favorite hit TV show, is 33? I read some uber successful blogs written by people living dream lives by galavanting across Europe and getting paid to do it, who are literally my age. Hell, the Kardashians have nearly zero talent (yet, I watch their show) and they’re all like 35. How? I watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on repeat today with a teething toddler while wearing yoga pants and wiped more boogers than I can count. Yeah, my kids are happy. But am I truly happy?
I haven’t been shy about my struggle with stay-at-home mom life. Some days I love being at home with our girls, and others I feel like I’m being suffocated – and I feel like that’s a normal thing for a SAHM to say. And now that we’re 110 percent DONE having kids, it’s hard not to wonder what is coming next for me.
Make that 150 percent DONE.
I don’t really have a way to wrap up this post, other than to say that I’m open to advice. I’m open to encouragement or critique. I need pushed, one way or another, into my next phase. Do I embrace my current situation, or do I continue to make moves to the next chapter in my career? Do I even know how to do that?! Lord knows I’ve had four years to overthink this, so your comments are very much appreciated.
And, this is 29. The year I makes moves, or stay put. The jury is still out.
I wish I knew the answer to this. I am currently in the same-ish situation. I’m a contract worker out of town with inconsistent work (this year I worked 4 months away from home), and I like most things about the job except for having to travel and the long hours. I unfortunately need to work to help supplement our income (my husband has a great job, but the money isn’t quite enough), but I’m ready for something new. I have absolutely NO clue about what I would like to do for a career. I got a B.S. in chemistry in 2010 and have never worked in the chemistry field. I go back and forth between going back to school to become a teacher, working in the medical field, or continuing working in some kind of industrial atmosphere like I do currently. I have major feelings of being under qualified and over qualified, of being inadequate, of fear, of worry, of doubt, etc, though…..All this to say that you’re not alone. Being a mom is hard, and trying to figure out who we are and what we want to do with our lives besides being a mom is just so dang hard. I don’t know if you’re religious or a prayer, but I have been upping my prayer game lately and asking God what He wants for my life and seeking His purpose for me in the word. I feel that I will get an answer in His perfect timing, and I believe you will too. I’ll definitely be following this post to see what anybody else has to suggest 🙂
Rachel Witte says
I think a lot of people are in the same boat as you find yourself in. When my daughter was young, I stayed at home with her from age 2-4 since at the time we could afford for me to do that. I always was ready for the time when my child would go to school full time and I could focus on what I wanted to do with my life. I sat up one night and thought about what is most important for me to have out of a career and made a list. I wanted something where I would essentially have banking hours with weekends and holidays off. I wanted something where I would learn something new every day. I also wanted a job that would not stress me out and I would not obsess over when my working day was done and my family life resumed when I clocked out for the day. Most importantly to me, I wanted a career where if I needed a day off when my kid was sick, I would not be looked down on for taking my paid time off (I worked retail for a long time and always felt I was a bad employee if I wanted to be a good mother). It’s a really tough thing to try and figure out your whole life at once. I just take it day by day and know that in life you are never going to have all the answers to all your questions solved at once. Figure out what is most important to you in your life and I promise you a career opportunity will come around that meets all of your needs. Mine sure did.
I feel you…except I have a full time job that I love. But I find myself wanting something more, or at least something different. I started my career in an extremely exciting and rigorous field (especially for women), Division 1 football. I loved my job, but I worked weekends, holidays, traveled, and knew that it was not the right career for a woman who wanted her children to be #1 priority. I wouldn’t be able to be the employee and the mom that I wanted to be. So back to grad school I went, where I got my Masters in Education. I truly love my teaching job, but if I’m being honest, I’m on auto-pilot. Maybe it’s because I’m up to my ears in mommyhood and it’s survival mode. I swore we were done with #2, but I now have my husband talked into #3. Is it because I want a change or to be excited about something, which I haven’t felt much of lately? I’m not entirely sure, but I just have this feeling of “this isn’t it”, “there’s more for me”. Not that I would ever expect a baby to fulfill that, I don’t, but I’d be lying if I said it had nothing to do with the decision. I wish I had answers or suggestions to give you, I don’t, but at least you know you’re not alone.
You will find the path that is right for you. I have worked full time as a mom and while I have the benefit of a career I love, a wonderful and supportive professional environment and compensation that makes it worth sacrificing the time with the kids, being a working mom is hard. Really hard. From the mom guilt (and I have the control to attend the kids events I need to, etc) to the logistics (zipped in from a business trip at 8 pm last night and had snack duty at preschool first thing this morning), to very limited time to myself. Ask yourself what it is that gives you the most joy-personally and professionally and seek that out. Also-consider volunteer opportunities–serve on the board of a non-profit, for example–to get the adult interaction and intellectual rigor and challenge you are seeking.
Eddie Guanajuato says
whoa….lot to process here.
I can tell you what I would like to write to you but it would be more like what I want to say and not solve your problem. I can say that I know how you feel. Its hard being a parent, but trust me on this one, you have no idea of the loneliness of being an empty nester. You remember working with my oldest but now my YOUNGEST is out of the home and they have their lives to lead….. without me. They are still tight with their mother but not me…….becuase I put my career n front of them instead of before them. Now, I am a lonely and bitter man whose only love can be summed up with my work with the school.
If I could make you feel what I feel I would alert you to the time you spend with your children is more precious than you can possibly imagine. Gone are the chances I had to build a really tight relationship with my sons….because I was worried about ME and how to provide for them instead of being there to wipe a bugger….
My heart sobs when I think how much i missed the simple things like going to a baseball game, playing a card game, sitting around a great homecooked meal….but no. I had to get back to the band.
I would trade places with you without a reservation in my heart just to go back to change the way I thought of how I was a dad instead of being a proper father.
It’s not about you, its about the self-sacrifice that is for your children that they will NEVER know until they become parents themselves…..
I would do anything to go back and improve the relationships with my children…. Alas, that time is come and gone and can not be re-visited.
a deep and scar tearing regret. ……
Valerie Broaddus says
I turn 30 in December and this post hit me right in the gut. Although I’m not a SAHM, I am in a job that makes me feel very complacent. It does what it needs to: pays the bills, I’ve been there for years so I have lots of flexibility, I can get my work done quickly and mindlessly. But I get zero satisfaction out of it. But then again, I don’t *really* know where I want to be or what I want to be doing.
There is a blogger turned Disney Travel Agent that I thought of immediately when reading your post. Her name is Steph Howard and used to be the voice behind snhblog.com. She’s in Instagram @MrsStephHoward. She also has a Disney Travel page @TheTravellingEars . Maybe this could be a jumping off point for some info for you.