Thursday, January 16, 2020

Decisions At The Fork

                                                                    Photo credit: The Muppet Movie (1979)

Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a wife and a mother. I can remember playing pretend with my dolls or having my friends play "house" with me, one of us being the mother and the other being the father. We played very stereotypically, pretending Dad goes off to work while Mom stays home and cares for the children.

For the most part, this dream came true. While I did work outside the home some of the time, I was able to fulfill my desire to stay home and raise our children. And when the youngest started pre-k, I began working as a substitute teacher at the elementary school where the two younger children attended. It was a financial sacrifice to spend those years not working a full-time job, but I do not regret them.

As a mother who worked as a substitute I had the flexibility to take off work to stay home with a sick child or go on a field trip or take one of the kids on a Mom-and-me field trip to do something fun or watch history-in-the-making. For example, I let my middle child skip school one day to go with me on a tour of the state capitol building. We visited the governor's office (but missed seeing him) and the state treasurer's office, where she was able to hold a stack of $100 bills worth $100,000. We were able to sit in the balcony and listen to the state senate debate a bill, after which, we enjoyed lunch together.

While my family did not amass any wealth during these lean years, I invested time into my children's lives. I lived my dream of being a Mom.

Now, however, my youngest child is in his last years of high school and my time as full-time Mom has wound down. And I don't know what to do. While I will always be "Mom," I don't know what the "and" will be. I am at a fork in the road and I don't know which way to go. Honestly, I am not even sure what my options are. I spent so many years dreaming about being a mom, then living the life of a full-time mom that I never considered what would come next. What happens when the last child moves out? What will I do with my time once the children are old enough to go do their own thing and they don't need me like they did when they were little?

I am slowly working my way through answers to these questions. I once thought I wanted to be a teacher. Obviously, I enjoy being in the classroom because I have worked as a substitute teacher for several years. I am so close to having my teacher certification, but I am unsure that I want to be in the classroom on a full-time, regular basis. However, it would be steady work with a steady income and benefits. So, there's that.

Also, obviously, I enjoy writing (why would I write this blog if I didn't?). While I am in the process of writing a manuscript for a novel and I write this blog, I am having difficulty in learning how to translate my love of writing into a money-making possibility. I am researching local publications and local online news sites to see if I can submit freelance articles, but many of these want to see my previous work. What if there is no previously published work? How am I supposed to break into a field to get experience when even the entry-level positions want experience? Feels like a catch-22.

So, here I am, sitting at this giant fork in the road and still no idea which direction to go. Oh! And guess what? Just because I have narrowed things down to teaching and writing, there are literally hundreds of directions I *could* go. I know that, but I have to start somewhere, right?

EDIT: I originally wrote this just over a year ago. In that time I have managed to find a bit of paying work as a writer. I have taken teaching off the table. While I love making those teacher-student connections, the reality is that my love for being in the classroom has waned.

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