May 17, 2015

Finding Work

It's hard to know what to do now.  I chose a career path while in college.  What did I know then?  Although I initially thought I would become a teacher, I was steered away from that sensible path by my mentor.  My mentor, a woman who had a bunch of kids, was someone I babysat for very regularly.  In fact, it almost makes sense that her guidance steered me in my college studies since she probably paid for the majority of it.  Her advise was not to become a teacher because it would prove too difficult to meet a future mate.  I listened, and went with business.  My dad strongly urged me to go into nursing.  I reminded him on more than one occasion (yes, he is persistent) that I pass out from the sight of blood - certainly an occupational hazard if I was going to pass out each time a patient needed a procedure.  I ended up concentrating on marketing.  While some people can turn a marketing degree into a fine career, I ended up working in several newly created positions without much of a career path.  My jobs typically focused on a customer service theme.  I banked, I interviewed folks to sell life insurance, and I acted as a liaison between the manufacturing and art departments and the customer at a baseball hat manufacturer.  Eventually, I abandoned the corporate world and the grunt work that I performed so well.  Coach and I were newly weds and he was a full time student.  I ditched my long commute and miniscule pay to be employed as a nanny before my first baby arrived.  After Laddie's arrival, I took 14 years off.  And when I say 'off', I really mean 'ON'.  

If a future employer was introduced to me as a woman whose prior employer had been impressed that I was willing to work while sleep deprived, went above and beyond the call, never took a personal day, refused to take 'no' as an answer, planned ahead, never asked for a pay increase, and tackled projects head on, how could I not be hired?  It wasn't until I dedicated years to beginning (a job no where near complete!) to raise my six children that I realized just how I excelled at problem solving while being quick on my feet.  Add to that my ability to be hard working, innovative, organized, creative, resourceful, and loud.  Unfortunately, no resume can relate just how all of those essential traits assisted me during my years at home with the kids.  Staying home with my brood was more like 'real' work than anything I had ever done before.  Could I really impress a future boss with my refusal to rest until all dirty dishes found a spot in the dishwasher?  Knowing where all dirty or clean items of clothing hide out in the home so that I can locate them in a moment's notice must count for something, right?  Scheduling, tracking, and juggling all activities and events for all eight family members is a skill not even the most organized individual can master. 

So 14 years after Laddie was born, I dove back into the work force . . . in none other than a newly created position.  Almost three years ago, my resume (overflowing with many school related volunteer tasks) landed me a part time marketing and advancement job at a private school 20 miles from home.  Additionally, I substitute teach in a school district close to my house.  I wish that I had a teaching certificate . . . of course.  How could I have known at age 18 that my instincts were dead on?  Such an impressionable age.  At this point, as Coach and I prepare to send our oldest to college next year, spending additional funds to return to the classroom to earn another degree is unrealistic.  Not to mention, teaching jobs are tough to come by.  Three years, two principals, and a long commute have led me to reflect on other 'work from home' possibilities I considered over the years.  If one of these ideas doesn't pan out, then I might be tempted to pad my resume with some of those impressive, real-life skills learned during my on the job training-for-anything as a mother of six.

Over the years, I've attempted to parlay one of my 'hidden' talents (and I'm not referring to cramming additional plates into the dishwasher) into a stay at home career.  So far my dream to act as an entrepreneur and solve some of our cash flow issues hasn't taken flight.  Not for lack of trying.  For a few years, I created custom cards for birth announcements, showers, change of address, etc.  While I managed to connect with a few customers, the sudden ease of ordering custom cards online interfered with the longevity of my little business. 

I offered baked goods for sale a few years back.  I printed out business cards for 'Ernie's Dough' and handed them out at my kids' sporting events with delicious sample cookies.  The occasional order was not sufficient to consider it a viable business.  In order to really sell homemade treats, I would need access to a commercial kitchen and I would need to invest in a pricey insurance policy.  Besides, I wasn't confident that my baked goods would maintain the fresh taste I produced if my eventual (and guaranteed!) success included shipping out of state.

My artistic abilities remain an untrained skill that I would love to incorporate into a lucrative profession, but I'm not sure how to utilize art into a 'work-from-home' business.  At our first house, I drew stencils of nursery rhyme scenes and created stencils from my sketches.  When I was expecting Eddie, I used the stencils to decorate the border of the baby's room with colorful images of childhood classics like 'Humpty Dumpty'.  The result was awesome!  Despite sleep deprivation and piles of laundry, I spent hours sketching my newborn's face a few weeks or a few months after delivery.  These penciled portraits added a unique touch to the front of each baptismal invitation that I sent out.  In all honesty, I don't know that my limited artistic ability would measure up to that of a trained artist with a wider range of skills.  For example, if I was hired to stencil a baby room, I doubt the potential customer would be comfortable with me living in their home for months just to complete the project. 

Writing.  Perhaps it is my Irish heritage that aids me in crafting a good story.  As a middle child, I believe that relating funny anecdotes earned me the attention that I so desired as a kid.  Between my 'story-for-everything' mentality and my sense of humor, I believe that writing is the talent I need to cultivate - thus my blog!  If nothing else it will act as a release for my pent up frustrations from parenting, family, and life in general.  When an unreal moment morphs into a hilarious account in my written version, I find balance, satisfaction, and accomplishment.  (Of course if I had thought to record and publish some of my outrageous stories from my babysitting days, then my version of the 'Nanny Diaries' would have been made into a movie and life would be void of frustrations, career fulfillment issues, and cash flow problems, right?).  Now, if I can just figure out how to make an income from my blog.

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