Here is a bit of my life in numbers in no particular order:
37: years of life on this planet. Let’s move on ...
3: adorable, smart, and mostly well mannered boys ages 11, 7, and almost 2. Further break down would reveal 2 “planned for” boys and one lesson in never saying you are “D-U-N done” having kids when no one has actually “D-U-N” anything to prevent it.
1: husband who probably wonders what he really signed up for way back when we got married at the tender age of 22.
1: poorly behaved, neurotic dog whose hobbies include jumping our fence to poop in the neighbor’s yard and finding squirrel carcasses to bring into the living room.
5: girlfriends that I could call in a pinch for anything from a black patent leather clutch (sorry, Kristen … I promise I’ll return it) to emergency child care to wine-soaked gab-fests.
1: abandoned career as a high school teacher because, although I loved hearing myself talk about Hemingway and T.S. Elliot, I hated grading papers and teachers’ lounge coffee.
2: college degrees (one being a freshly minted masters degree in counseling psychology).
8: months left in the town I’ve called home the last 7 years.
1: dream of finding work that I am passionate about.
0: jobs that would put to use the combined experience that all of the above has afforded me.
There are a lot of good things in that mix. I think every day about how fortunate I am to have what I have. Still, at this point, the numbers of my life add up the one big bowl of dissatisfaction. Why is that? Here’s the thing: I want to work. I want the chaos of juggling family and career. I want to come home late from work tired and hoping dinner has been made for me … or better yet, find that dinner hasn’t been made for me so I can find an excuse to have a meal of popcorn and Pinor Noir. I want to walk through the door and say, “You won’t believe the day I had!” I want to find important, big, and meaningful work. I want to fight to be the best at what I do and I don’t want to feel like I have to apologize for wanting to be wildly successful. Apparently, however, no one wants to hire someone who has been home with three kids for the last seven years and will be moving across the country in a few months, regardless of that freshly minted graduate degree. Go figure.
Trust me … I’ve heard all about what I “should” be doing in the next eight months leading up to our cross country move. Focus on the kids and husband; make their lives wonderful and prepare them for upcoming changes. Well of course! Are those things that I could only do while unemployed? I’ve also been told to relax and enjoy not “having” to do anything: shop, run, have lunch with friends, shop. And although I understand that my standard answer of “I don’t wanna” strikes many as spoiled or not appreciating the luxury of my position ... still I don’t wanna! There are only so many times a woman can make her way through Crate and Barrel without coming to the conclusion that perhaps she can’t find happiness in a Kavari armoire or new Wusthof knives.
So what HAVE I been doing in the five months since earning my master’s degree? Yes, I’ve been networking (like a fiend, I might add), filling out countless applications that ask me to rewrite the exact information I just provided in the resume they required I submit and spending more time on the computer trolling for job leads than I care to admit. My favorite was a position listed for a “therapist/ cook.” But if you were to ask friends and family what I’ve been doing these last five months they would probably say I’ve been crying, yelling, and pouting with periods of despondency, anger and displaced resentment. Not to mention large chunks of time curled in the fetal position on the couch in my office. To that I reply: Yep. Guilty.
In fact, I have been so unpleasant, so pitiful that I am quite sick of myself. I was chatting to a friend on Facebook (yeah … I know … but I’ve got time on my hands) and I started lamenting yet again the lack of career or purpose. I found myself having an out of body reaction as if I were listening to someone else. This out of body Renee thought to herself, “Oh god … her again? Does she ever quit bitching?”
Therefore, I’ve decided to make an attempt to quit my incessant wallowing … or at the very least, do something productive with myself in the midst of my self-obsessed bitching. I am going to work for free; I will volunteer in as many ways as I can in the next eight months. I’ll report on my experience … good, bad, and ugly. In the process I hope that I can get over myself and my mid-life angst. And if someone realizes that I’m brilliant decides they want to pay me for my work ... well, that would be okay too.