*As in "mother who is employed by an outside employer subject to federal and state laws and generally offering tangible metered payment for one's hours and efforts." Stay at home moms often leave the house (desperately so before their stir crazy children tear them apart). All moms work .But some moms get paid to be somewhere.
I applied a few weeks ago for a job sent along by a legal contact I have here. The job was "Family Law Facilitator for the Skagit County Courthouse." Or something like that. Basically based on a state-wide courthouse program in which people representing themselves have facilitators to help gently guide them through the process without actually representing anyone or doling out legal advice. Technically a paraprofessional job more than an outright lawyerly one, but not unlike many of of my unbundled consultations/work when I was a lawyer. With the added bonus of being able to hang the briefcase up immediately upon leaving. Downside: full time. Upside: a pretty decent salary to plunge into outsourcing all the momming I'd be unable to accomplish.
The application period closed on November 26th. I got a call this Monday telling me they wanted me to come in for an interview on this Wednesday. Fortunately at a feasible time. I had to cancel my therapist, but that seemed apt, since there's no way I'd have time for things like therapy if I had a job! Mental health is for the idle! Or not, but when it comes down to therapy or sleep/food, it becomes a secondary concern.
And there we were: at the precipice of potentially major change. Tuesday I mostly was dazed and trying not to let my brain explode in contemplation of "how would child care for Chaya work in the interstitial transitions between work hours and preschool and man how would she adjust to having NO naps or quiet times (because she would not volunteer for them at school)... what meal services offer something quick and easy, but also healthy that suit both Chaya and Andrew's palates/calorie requirements... how will I even have time to talk with a cleaning service let alone engage one or any of the other professionals we need to bring into our home in the coming months... how does that clicklist thing work again because no way we'll have time for shopping... what part of the weekend am I gonna have time to manage the bills... uh how early do I have to get up to get my workout and sitting time AND dress like a grownup all before getting Chaya fed and rushed off to school early enough to make it to work but late enough that there's actually somebody already at school and..what happens if suddenly we need to move within a few weeks and I just was hired and how awkward would that be..." It went on from there. Seriously, my heart rate was so elevated the last couple of days that my Garmin Vivofit watch thinks I ran a marathon or at least could use an extra bowl of figgy pudding or two to keep up calorically.
I realize in days of yore, I would have spent, say, any fraction of that time thinking about the job and interview itself. In this context "preparing" largely meant "last minute scrounging around Target trying to find a professional looking top to go with the only pants that weren't covered in some form of child goo and treating my suddenly-greasy hair with some water and spritz-in conditioner before giving up and hoping the headband I grabbed at target would distract from the furrowed coif.
|This is "professional" right?|
Panicked time diversions aside, I think I turned out pretty well
I would have held a very productive mediation in this outfit. Maybe with a scarf. I could use a scarf for mediation. Mediations need scarves. Don't ask. I don't know. Some things you just know.
I arrived at the courthouse stylishly early, with a purse (instead of my usual star-backpack) and my bullet journal just in case gunfire erupted and something needed to absorb stray ammo, I guess. And then...
It's been a LOONG time and most of my interviews have admittedly been with people already inclined to hire me. So I wasn't really sure how I would do. I honestly feel like most of the time I'm a blubbering aphasiac ball of fluster. Granted, I've had a few moments in the last three years to re-embody my mediation-self, but they're sporadic enough I tend to forget in the interim.
Nonetheless, Professional Adella emerged briefly. Aside from dumping her keys on the floor on her way into the interview room (and dropping her coat on her way out) Professional Adella was surprisingly congenial, calm, and confident. I glossed over my lack of Spanish with an aside about tangoing in Argentina which led into a side conversation about Buenos Aires with one of my interviewers. I addressed the potential issue of my overqualified status with an emphasis on the stability of a 9-5 that ended with clocking out and that work-life balance drastically elusive to attorneys. I said many things that got a strong nod, a mention - "it really connected with me when you said..." - and otherwise engaged eye contact. I even asked a variety of questions that were deemed "great question."
As the head interviewer ushered me out, she explained that they would get back to me within the week, possibly within the day. And that they were hoping to start the position pretty immediately. She emphasized that it had been a wonderful interview and thanked me. I came out of there thinking I'd enjoy going out for coffee with the majority of my interviewers and maybe going out shopping with one in a particularly spectacular ensemble.
As I reveled in a post-game daze in my care, I felt a little bit of an "I got this moment." That was in between some pangs of sadness at the Chaya I could possibly be about to miss. But within an hour or so I at least had a tentative cover for childcare and some more details tentatively handled.
Chaya and I had a marvelous reunion when I picked her up from preschool. We talked about my interview and how I might go back to work. Then I set myself to thoroughly cherishing what felt potentially so fleeting. Lunch. Books. Singing. The buzz wore off and the sadness set back in To say nothing of the panic, of course, which still lingered at the periphery. There were bear hugs and long naps.
Only shortly before Chaya woke up, my follow up Thank You email had a response: "Just wanted to let you know that after a long discussion we decided to go with a different candidate. We will keep your resume on file in case another position opens up." Or something to that effect.
My first several minutes were the purest relief and the first full breath since some time on Monday.
I wouldn't have to quit on them after beating out 30+ eager applicants and taking on training.
My time with Chaya wouldn't be whittled down to harried moments of trying to stay afloat while she acted upon her overtired pressure valve.
I wouldn't have to figure out how to haggle over the December days that have endoscopies and trips and other classes already scheduled.
My relationship wouldn't simultaneously be strengthened by suddenly parallel paths with mutually understood challenges while being strained by sheer exhaustion trying to fit our new chores (because I'd have to offload to Andrew as well) in with a chronically underslept three year old.
And so on.
Of course by the next day I felt a bit discouraged. Yes, I take it as a positive sign that I was a strong final applicant from a pretty large pool. At the same time I graduated in the top of my class from a top Law School with a couple of scholarships and was applying for a paraprofessional job.
I feel a bit like I've cornered my career. I'm overqualified for a lot of positions, but have been out of practice long enough that I'm also at a huge disadvantage in most professional level positions. I can't even get reciprocity from other states because I haven't been practicing law these last three years. I'm glad I don't have to get a job, but I'm really understanding how challenging and frustrating it would be if I had to.
I'm also coming to respect that I have a certain sensitivity that makes me historically prone to anxiety and (in my teenage years) depression. That the anxiety component has tangible and measurable impacts on my health. And that the traditional legal path is one littered with booze bottles and mental health issues. It's something I've been aware of for years, but adding the need to stay centered for my family with the added stress of a family makes me cognizant that I need to embrace my limitations and work with them instead of fighting against them. That doesn't mean locking myself in an ivory tower and refusing to grow. But it means I'm tired of our societal story where the only work that's acceptable is the all-in full-on-assault on our imperfections and the need to overcome. I am me and the good - the compassion, the depths of understanding, the empathy, the acute analysis and ability to switch between different emotional vocabularies to translate inner states - is intimately related to the bad - the overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. My softness is an asset where I can extend it. But, well, my degree and experience and exceptionalism all point towards a higher stress passionately involved profession. Which leaves me in this interesting place.
I continue to hold onto the trajectory of Guardian ad Litem. It would still involve stress. It would still require a fair amount of self-promotion. But it's something I think I'd be good at, something that offers more independence, and something for which I have potential mentors and people to vouch for me (at least in Whatcom County). Lord knows though. I'm surely not doubt free. Obviously if I could get the mental bandwidth, it would be an advantage to learn Spanish as every helping position prefers it.
I can only shrug my shoulders in a mix of ambivalent exhaustion. It's been a long week for a momming and i'm just glad to finally get some preschool "time off" to relax and say "f it all" to the laundry and cleaning and whatever else. Or go to Qi Gong, since I did sign up and pay for it. But in my head I'm binge watching America's Next Top Model and browsing Buzzfeed tests on my phone.
Stay at home moms, nobody knows how you do it (and often people seem not to care to find out). Working moms I really don't know how you manage it! I suspect magic.
In the meantime, we successfully threw our very first holiday party (and only get together in our current home). It was small by design and smaller by the inevitable last minute cancellations. In future, we've agreed to invite more people than the house can hold with the confidence that it will sort itself out in the end.
And we tromp closer and closer to the big 2019, ten years since I started law school and met Mr (W)right incidentally.
Job or no-job, we wait in limbo on a future that is never set in stone or backed up in the cloud. Who knows what comes next, but hopefully a few more vigorous bed-jumping sessions, some long naps, and several readings of Hanukkah Bear alternated with Santa Clause and the Three Bears.