Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dipping a toe back into the waters of employment

As if eeking out every summer adventure we have time for while ignoring the impending reality of 'back to school', all while heading into Cake Month (as we call it around here) wasn't already enough, I also started a new job last week. 

Part time, from home, boring old lawyering.  Well, I should be more specific, because "lawyering" probably conjures an image of someone in a courtroom, whereas what I do is review commercial leases in my pajamas.  And I shouldn't say "boring old", because I'm really happy to have the work, it's just that during the past two and a half years of not having a paying job, I've spent my time daydreaming of several alternative career paths (who doesn't?).  Most of them were unattainable without the use of a time machine, but all were totally rad.  (And for the record, Joe, I'm still not ruling any out.)    

It's really premature for me to be discussing any of this, seeing as how I have not even had a chance to call my own mother to tell her about this, have not yet seen a dime, and I've only been giving it a whirl for a week, but it also seemed remiss not to at least mention that I have entered said whirl.

Who knows if it will last a month or a year or if you will ever hear of it again on this blog, but for the moment, I am excited to be earning a little extra money for our family and to have my foot back in the door of employment, if for no other reason than to patch the ever-widening gap in my resume.  I wasn't actively seeking a job right now, so it was very flattering to be approached, and hard to say no to at least giving it a try.  
It's going to take a while to work out the kinks.  Since I don't yet have a good idea of how many hours per week this will be, for the time being I'm getting it done "around the edges", i.e., without any childcare.  That's great for our bottom line, but not so great for me if it means that all billable work is a second shift that occurs after the kids go to bed, and not so great for the kids (or me) if it means trying to juggle paying attention to children and working at the same time.  With written or computer-based work, I have a prayer of getting things done while Waylon is napping and the girls are (ostensibly) entertaining themselves during quiet time.  But phone calls?  Fuhgeddaboudit.   

I am trying to be patient with the kids, because this is a transition time for them, too.  Even though I worked outside the home full time until just before Georgia's fourth birthday and June's second, Georgia has very few memories of our old routine, and June has none.  Waylon has only known me as a stay at home mom.  

So, last week when it came time to have a few phone calls, I set the kids up in front of the television (yes, I'm strategically using it as a makeshift babysitter - we're talking 15 minute increments here, not 8 hour blocks of time), and asked them if possible to pass me a note if they needed something, rather than interrupting my calls in their usual ways.  As great as TV can be, Murphy's Law dictates that the next episode of Wild Kratts is sure to cut out just when I need it most.  

This system worked pretty well for the call that was scheduled.  Our note passing system did not work so well for an unplanned call that I felt I had to pick up amidst everyone running around and playing.  (And yes, I realize that this system is particularly ridiculous given that 2 of 3 children here are illiterate.)  It's a work in progress...  

I felt a low-lying buzz of nervous, stressful energy on a day when I was expecting a call to discuss a document, and I found myself having to make strange new decisions, like leaving my cell phone inside while serving as a lifeguard outside.  There's no point in bringing the phone if you can't very well answer it, I decided.  When the low-lying buzz of nervous, stressful energy felt annoying, I had to remind myself that I was, after all, getting paid to experience it.  It's a work in progress...

So, I guess I've gone back to work.  Except I haven't really gone anywhere.  In an employment landscape defined by tradeoffs, I've traded my old office with a door for a child-sized kitchen table, occasional business lunches at Frontera for leftovers plucked from unfinished plates, coffee runs with adult conversations for being interrupted to wipe someone's bottom, and a salary with benefits for an hourly independent contractor wage.  But I've got windows!  That's one thing I didn't have working in Biglaw.  And flexibility.  Hopefully, gobs of it.   That, of course, is the real kicker.  

Please wish our family luck as we enter this new chapter, because we're certain to need it.  Joe has been so supportive, not only in the normal, "you can do it, honey!" sort of way that you'd expect from any spouse, but truly in the more time-consuming, "blowing the rust off the old lawyer gears" way that only a two-attorney family can appreciate.  I feel like I'm just slowly working my way through all the hats of motherhood...working outside the home, staying home full time, working part-time from home, who knows what else may come.  Weaving in and out of these phases is a sign of the times in some respects, but I also feel extremely fortunate, because not everyone has the luxury of opportunity to do so. 

And now for a few snapshots, which are sure to make you laugh at me.  

My temporary workspace, complete with crayons and dejected preschooler:  

The notes I received:
Seriously?  I've been back in the workforce for like 10 MINUTES!

Okay, to be fair, I later got to the bottom of this, which turned out to be a sibling thing that had nothing to do with me. 

This lovely pictogram clearly says, "Mom, may I please have some soap, a bucket, the hose, and a rag so that I can wash a riding vehicle on the driveway RIGHT THIS MINUTE?"  It was when I failed to correctly interpret and immediately respond to this that our note passing system broke down.

It's all luck in the timing.      


Kelly said...

YAY! I was just going to text you to ask about the job thing. So exciting! A time of change for sure, but super exciting. Congrats, friend, and best of luck! And I'm cracking up about the "I'm sad" note. :)

Maggie said...

Thinking good thoughts for you and the kids. School will help you grab those blocks of time! Exciting to be doing something new (well, old, but also new)!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Your kids will rise to the occasion.

Cindy said...

Good luck!! I totally get the phone thing. I realized the other day that I have epically failed in the phone etiquette department with my kiddos.

Ann Price said...

Weird isn't it? I still find the idea of working from home to be the biggest set up for failure. It's a total illusion. But in the rare instances when it works, it feels like you've really won. So keep at it. I know I am.

Susan said...

Congrats on the new opportunity! I'm sure you'll soon figure out how it works best for you and for the kids. Maybe you can find another work-at-home mom who has had great success and see if they have any tricks/secrets that work well for them?

Emily said...

That's great Kate! But I also don't think you should give up on your alternative ideas just yet.

jessica said...

"Dejected preschooler." Laughed out loud :) I mean seriously, what can't you do? Congratulations! I have no doubt that if you did decide to pursue something else that you would totally rule. Dude, seriously, you're the closest to Beyonce that I know.

Sarah said...

Congrats Kate! It's amazing you can add another dimension to your already hectic schedule, and feel like a professional again, even if you're in your pajamas. I remember babysitting periodically for an architect who had taken on some projects at home, but it seemed she used the time when I was there to do other things on her list like errands and cleaning. Can't say that I blame her - it's just so tempting. And clearly you're dealing with far more important matters at home, especially when you happen to be on the phone. Maybe you can all do "homework" together sometimes.