Thursday, August 25, 2011

Less adventure, more sulking

I'd like to interrupt all this talk of adventures with a little sulking. I know, fun for everyone! Gather around and prepare yourselves for some complaining, and maybe even a teeny-tiny pity party. Still here? Good.

I have had some incredible days with my family lately, and we're planning on having a few more of those this weekend (camping!). There have been many days where you'd have found me wishing that I could maybe just stay home with The Children, and maybe even homeschool them. Yes, I actually consider that some days. I even snoop around a few homeschooling blogs every week, just in case. Sometimes I imagine us taking walks in the woods or playing in the snow, learning about all kinds of everything. (Like just this morning Alyce and I tried to feed some sour crab apples to a spider and an earwig. We learned that they do not enjoy crab apples, and I accidentally squished the spider in the process. But, still.) But when I think about it a little longer I realize two things: first, Alyce loves going to preschool more than just about anything. She loves her friends, her teachers, the toys, the slide, the toys, and her crafts, and when she has been enrolled in a school she always comes home telling us all about her exciting days. (Me: "Alyce, what did you do today?" Alyce: "I played". But she says it with great conviction and depth.) She's very excited about Junior Kindergarten, which begins in two weeks. She's the kind of excited where she's sleeping with her new lunch box in bed at night.

Second, I both want and need to work. I want to develop new skills and discover new interests (and old passions), though for the moment my need to work is outweighing everything else. I am excited to sponsor dear Matty for permanent residency, but the reality of his Canadian move is that he can't work in this beautiful country until all his immigration is done (which could be as early as December or as far as next May). So while I'm hoping to find a job that I enjoy, that keeps me away from the house all day doing things I'm good at and things that challenge me, we also just need a pay check. And it needs to be big enough to cover the expenses of a family of four.

So I find myself in a position I've never really experienced, and while I knew coming in that finding a job isn't easy, it never occurred to me that September would come and find me still unemployed. I've had some very wise friends remind me that summer is a terrible time to find a job--especially August, with all those employed people taking vacations, the nerve--and I'm so very grateful for the help I've been offered by those friends who themselves had trouble finding a job back in the day. I have not given up all hope and I remind myself to be patient. But lately I'm frustrated, impatient, scared, and a little sad. Especially when that recruiter told me last week that I should just go home because she had nothing. She actually told me to go home. In case that hasn't happened to you, believe me when I tell you that it sucks.

So I find myself, as one does, questioning a lot of things. What is it that potential employers aren't seeing in my resume? Why am I not standing out? Dear god, did I include the wrong phone number (oh yes, I've checked just to be sure)? I might not have any direct business or management experience, but it never occurred to me that my two degrees (and half of a third), five years of teaching experience, and a whole bunch of time spent volunteering my time with social services groups, faculty committees and boards, wouldn't help me stand out to an organization or business. Three months have gone by and I'm left in virtual silence. Maybe I should check my phone, just to make sure it's working. Or maybe I'm just naive and you'd like me to stop complaining.

I also find myself wishing that I could go back and time and have a little talk with my eighteen year old self. I would tell her to stop worrying about her weight already, and also not to major in the Humanities. This might not be a popular opinion among the Humanities-loving people I know, and of course I agree that learning for the sake of learning, learning how to think critically, and learning how communicate are vital to a healthy society. I have spent years developing these skills and I don't want to give them back. But it wouldn't kill my degrees to do a little bit more for me. Seriously, Master of Arts? You've got nothing for me? I gave you a THESIS. And of course if I hadn't wound up in a graduate program in the Humanities I probably wouldn't have met Matt from Alabama, and then where would I have found Alyce and Shira? So yes, yes, it's good and all that I chose the Humanities, but that doesn't change my frustration today. I feel extremely qualified to apply for another graduate degree, and that's about it. And another graduate degree won't pay the bills right now. And plus, didn't I just leave one of those? I know that I have a lot to offer an employer, but it seems that first I need an employer to trust my education. I need an employer who can see the potential in my skills as a researcher and writer (and, evidently, as a complainer).

And now we come to the end of my pity party. I will put on my big-girl panties and get back to it.


  1. Hey Mama,
    You don't know for sure it's the humanities that are keeping you away from employment. Just wanted to point that out. Looking for work when you have no paid job is the worst. I'm sure the pressure is beyond, especially with your family counting on you. We're hoping things turn around for you soon. More love from Delaware!

  2. Hey - I have an engineering degree (supposedly very "practical") and have been told to "go home" by a recruiter while on 3-6 month job searches. So don't get too down on your education, or because of silly recruiter's comments. You just have to keep going, it can take a while (a LONG while) but, it will come together for the better soon enough!

  3. Thanks, you two. I'm feeling the love. I know you are both right, but some days it's hard to stay positive. In these situations time seems to drag on and make it feel as though it's been six months of searching, instead of three. I have good feelings about next week. Summer vacations are over!

    And Dani, I'm sending some extra love right back to Delaware. Stay safe in the storm. Give Finley lots of kisses for me. I miss his face.

    And Barb, no hurricane for you, thank goodness, but I still send lots of kisses to Callum and Tate. Wet ones.

  4. Oh! Big Girl Panties!! I'm going to add that to my personal vocabulary! It's a shame...I see so much beauty and potential and creativity and humour in the women around me, blogging and crafting and sharing their gorgeous minds with the world...all for free (while they wait tables for money). I know that without my teaching degree, all those plays and novels and poems I studied would be terms of employability. It sucks. SOMEONE will see YOU; it might be something completely unexpected for you. But it will happen. I laughed at at something I read in a magazine recently (50 Ways to Celebrate Turning 50) of them read, "Flip the bird to the universe and burn your copy of "The Secret"" I'm not going to tell you to trust in the universe or put it "out there"...sometimes I do like to make a vision board, though...helps me clarify what I'm really seeking, you know?
    And yes, I would have been both gentler and more firm with my 18 year old self too.
    All the best, and thanks for your kind words on my blog this morning. It helped.

  5. "Big Girl Panties" comes from my Phd supervisor, though I think she said it to a friend of mine, not me. It's all a blur, that graduate school. But I love the phrase and find it useful.

    KGH, thanks for good thoughts. And for the offer to sing and read my children to sleep ;) We're in Cambridge (hour west of Toronto), so if you're ever in the area...