Sorry it has taken me so long to meet you back here. There have been so many thoughts, scribbled on bits of paper while at the park or waiting in car line, but no time to put them into sentences here at the computer. I wanted to take the time to tell you about something that has been on my mind a lot lately: work. I have often felt like I am stuck between two dimensions – the past life where everything was centered around my job and my current life that is centered around my children. I admire the women who find the balance between the two, the tightrope thin line that it is. I have tried all sides and know from experience that neither is perfect. I have worked outside the home, not worked at all, and worked from the home. Now I am faced with having to decide again which it will be for next year. And do you want to hear my secret? I think I miss my career as a Child Life Specialist. Shhhhhhh… To avoid the “I told you so’s,” this is between us.
And I say career because I hated my job. Leaving it was the right thing to do at the time. But it was bittersweet. Jobs in my field are hard to come by and I worked hard to get the one I left behind. Ultimately, it was too hard to keep it up with both parenting and the job the way it was. I hated the politics, the administrative tasks that kept me from my patients, the lack of support and resources to do the job at hand. I hated leaving my family behind every day to go to a place I hated being, a place where no one else seemed to care if I was even there. But the work that I was doing, although half-hearted, was special work. Last week, I was reminded how truly special being a Child Life Specialist is. A dear friend who works at Boston Children’s Hospital emailed to let me know that NBC Evening News was doing a feature on her boss, Myra Fox. Here’s the link. For more information, watch this.
By the time the piece finished, I was in tears. There on my TV was a huge reminder of the face I hadn’t seen in so long, the place where I was once a doe-eyed intern, and the career for which I spent much money and time in education and training. Later, when I had pulled myself together, I called that dear friend that I missed so much. We talked about the old times when we worked together here and how happy she is now that she is working there. And then she reminded me of how good I used to be at my job – it was the job that wasn’t good to me. I simply worry that I’ll never be able to reenter the field, unless I move to another state. And could I ever, possibly be good at it again after so many years of being out of the healthcare setting? Has the name I made for myself been forgotten? I haven’t thrown it all away, have I?
Some might argue that I haven’t exactly been out of the field wasting my Masters degree. For the last few years, I have been running my own after-school program in my home. And due to my special set of skills, I have often consulted with parents on various issues and prepared kids for surgical procedures (my own son included). Just the other week, my sister-in-law asked me to speak with a friend who was having trouble getting her son to cooperate with regular blood draws. We reviewed his set of coping strategies and words she could use to explain the procedure. We also identified ways that he could be in control instead of just being helplessly poked with a needle. It was a moment that made me feel like “I still got it.” And maybe I shouldn’t keep it to myself.
Then came another reminder. A few days ago, I was reading Alexa’s blog and she referenced this post. Since then, I have been hooked on baby Emily’s story for two reasons. One, Emily is about the age of Logan so this story cuts close to home. Two, Emily is just the type of child that I would be working with at my old job. I can only send her my virtual well-wishes and know my dear friend up there in Boston is taking good care of her – bringing her all the comfort and support that a Child Life Specialist can give. Just like I would.
Someday, I do hope to work again in Child Life. For now, it’s just not an option and I am OK with that. As far as the next year is concerned, my after-school program kids are graduating from preschool and Jess, my 5 year old, is starting kindergarten. So I can continue my business with new kids that are not the same age as any of mine, reinvent my business with new hours and new kids, or close the business and just be available to my own kids. And that is what my husband and I decided to do. Of course, I have mixed feelings. Will I be able to restart my business in a year when Logan goes to preschool? Will I be wasting my skills? Am I throwing it all away? At the same time, I will be relieved not have extra children around – my three are enough! Hey, I may even have more time more blogging…