March 30, 2023

Charlie Brown and Coach: both good men, not without their flaws, plus IMAGINE

I'm hesitant to share this, because I think some of you might have a hard time finding it in your heart to forgive him. But Coach's comment, combined with the opening of an email a few minutes later, sort of rocked my world back in January.

Coach and I were planning to visit Tank in Ireland. I have off the last week of March - like starting Saturday, March 25th. Coach has a hard time taking off during spring break week, because all of his people want that time off. My thoughts: 

1. He has seniority over just about everybody.

2. He might not be able to find a sub, but the whole company isn't going to fold if there isn't someone to cover for him. Patients will have  less available appointments. 

3. He has vacation days whereas I have unpaid days off, when I cancel my sitting services I make no money. *remember when Mini's senior year- her schedule  wasn't all that taxing and she could skip school to cover for me? I ask with a heavy sigh. AH, THE GLORY DAYS. 

We were leaning towards leaving on a Wednesday evening and returning the following Tuesday. I feel like I might need an extra day, since leaving Wed means arriving Thursday. I'm miserable and worthless on no sleep. I hope to see Shling, the friend I met while I studied in Ireland my junior year. She was in our wedding. She lives in Galway - over an hour from where Tank is studying. I also hope to see her parents, who still live in the town where I studied about 45 minutes outside of Dublin. I want to be sure I have time to squeeze those visits in along with getting to spend time with Tank and hopefully travel somewhere in Ireland with him. 

As we discussed travel dates and work schedule difficulties, Coach said:  


I know what he meant, but still

He did some back-pedaling as I picked my chin up off the floor. He said that since I own my own business I can take off whenever I want. Um, at a financial loss. 

When he said this, I'd been working for HOURS on making the 11 'fake' children that I sit for, because apparently they aren't 'real', Christmas ornaments. I've done this for a number of years, and it went to the wayside when I got covid. Since I have so many cute photos of them, I decided I'd still make them and I'd deliver them after Christmas. I gifted each family with a copy of our favorite book:   THE WIDE-MOUTHED FROG. 

Anyway, I was tired. My back was breaking. I sat down and checked my email. I got a rejection email from a magazine that I'd submitted one of my book chapters to. I get rejections regularly. This was different, because the email included a few sentences from each of the three readers who read my submission. 

Getting feedback is great and beneficial.  Most places charge extra for a critique. While there are many positives to this free service, it arrived at a bad time.  

Three readers shared words that weren't unkind, but they hit me like a slap in the face. I didn't even tell Coach. I just cleaned up my arts and crafts crap and went to bed. 


So that happened back in January, and obviously we ended up agreeing on the dates for our trip. We booked flights to depart AFTER my three busiest work days, only taking off Thursday and Friday - the next week is my spring break. Coach apologized profusely for implying that I don't have a real job. (here's where you all remember how nice it was when he drove to book club with my glasses).

I reached out to a teacher from my last writing class. When I re-read the rejection, I decided - it wasn't really all that bad. She helped me realize that I needed to tie the ending together a bit better in order for the submission to stand alone vs working as a chapter in a book. 

Then days before we went to see Mini at Notre Dame for parents' weekend, I got an email from my college. They were hiring someone. The applicant could live within a 3 hour radius from campus (I live under 2 hours away). Work from home and show up on campus a few times a month. *imagine me waving my hand wildly, YES, I CAN DO THAT.

Then I read the job description and I had NO CLUE how to do what the job entailed. *wah, wah, WAH.

A few days later, I got an email from ND. 

'Considering your second career? Join your student at Notre Dame'

They were plugging the grad school, which has some innovative schedule/location options - like take classes on a weekend or in the city of Chicago. 

Where would I be without my
daily pre-nap Memory game?
Imagine Mini and I attending graduation together? Me getting my own football tickets as an ND grad? Me finding a career that doesn't involve diapers? (but paying taxes would bite). Also, imagine the cost of tuition - Mini attending for almost free doesn't translate to me going for free. 

Do you imagine yourself in a different job/career? Or are you doing something now that had nothing to do with your initial plan/degree? Ed often says I would've been a great corporate party planner. I think logistics is where I'd excel. It's basically what I do. Other career suggestions for me? 


mbmom11 said...

I admire your restraint in just going to bed and not exploding like a nuclear warhead at your husband. You work a real job - and you excel at it. ( taking a horde of 3 and under to a zoo- that's gold medal child care right there!).
I want to quit my job at times. I'm doing exactly what my degrees prepared me for, but I feel tired and stale. My job needs me- I fill a gap and I've been there so long. I also know after 2 weeks of quitting I'd go crazy and depressed at home. I really would love to stop working out of the home and babysit grandchildren. But my oldest kids have not yet provide with any. So I keep doing my job (which really is a good one ) and spoil my cats.

Beth Cotell said...

I understand what Coach meant but I also understand that it probably felt like a slap in the face to you. I would have been extremely upset. But I feel like Coach gets stressed at the mere thought of taking time off from his work and that stress led to the hurtful comment. But, being married as long as you have, you understand him and didn't get too upset. That's a very good thing! I hope you guys are having the very best time in Ireland and am looking forward to hearing all about it. 6 years ago this week our family was in Ireland and I've been reliving the trip through Facebook memories. Can is currently in Ireland for work so he's reliving the trip in an extra special way. :)

Bijoux said...

Well, I’ve been a SAHM for the past 33 years, so I get being treated like what I do isn’t a real job. When actually, caring for other human beings is a lot more real than any business venture. Sorry about the book rejection letters. I know that when you put your whole heart into something, even the smallest criticism is hard to swallow.

I know a few people who’ve chosen a different career in mid-life and have never been happier!

Pat Birnie said...

I hope you are having an amazing time in Ireland. Men sure do speak without thinking at times. Amazing they have such a good survival rate! I can imagine you were hurt.
Both my husband & I had second careers. After long corporate careers we opened a gym, I started an online health biz and we started investing in real estate. Smartest moves we ever could have made. More like your situation, my daughter ran a home daycare for 7 years then jumped right back into an HR position, working 100% from home. I know you’ve been doing daycare longer but it is absolutely possible! (Also I think the service you offer is amazing. As a working mom for many years, knowing my babies were being loved and cared for was invaluable to me).

Colleen said...

I wish you could have fake watched my fake kids back when we were paying nannies :) Honestly though, I am the queen of saying stupid things off the cuff that I don't mean to be offensive at all, so I have a bit of a soft spot for people who also screw up in that way. Plus he apologized easily and he loves you :) We're not changing jobs late in life, but we are adding a business to our jobs because life is freaking expensive.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

As a person who has a very small business (MUCH smaller and less impactful than yours), and who makes a pittance compared to her husband, and who also has hopes of someday publishing a book, well... this really resonated with me and I want to give you the biggest hug. It SUCKS when your spouse -- the person who is supposed to know your heart and soul, who is supposed to support you no matter what, who is supposed to understand your effort -- all of a sudden comes out with a perspective that feels totally wrong. I have been there and it's awful and I don't have any solutions except to soldier on. Of course your job is real, and valuable, and there are real effects when you aren't there! Ugh. You are right that I may never forgive Coach. But... I have forgiven my own husband for similar things. Not that they don't continue to sting.

And every rejection hurts. I keep waiting for the day when I will be numb to their effects, but that day is not today. Keep going. You will get there. xxoo

Ernie said...

mbmom - I knew what Coach meant - it was a slip of the tongue, but I was still ticked. I waited till the next day or so to tell him how that made me feel. I know he is incredibly grateful that I work hard at my daycare. My work was nothing we ever banked on, but it has proven quite lucrative and a real help to afford tuition or cars or other biggies that come along.

It is hard to consdier making a change, because eek- what if after a change, one felt bored or unchallenged or overwhelmed or ended up with too much of a time commitment. At my age, I don't think it makes sense to go back to school.

These feelings come in spurts.

I hope you end up with a few grandkids to babysit. I hope I have energy to watch my own grandkids when the time comes or if the need arises.

Nance said...

Sigh. Maybe your husband should try doing your fake job for just ONE DAY. I am irate.

I know he's a good guy and a thoughtful husband. This kind of comment is far too common among people in general, however, about those who care for our children (and our elderly).

And as a teacher myself, I heard my own job devalued far too often, too: "you only work 9 months a year"; "you're a glorified babysitter"; "those who can't, teach", etc. It's all bullshit. They couldn't do my job for ONE DAY either.

Ernie said...

Beth - I do believe that Coach didn't mean to sound the way he sounded. He has said a million times since then YOU HAVE YOUR OWN BUSINESS, YOU CAN TAKE OFF WHENEVER YOU WANT - THAT'S WHAT I MEANT. But, when I cancel my sitting, I make nothing for that day/days. I do know how much he appreciates my income. We never counted on my income and it has been extremely helpful for tuition, car purchasing, and other biggies that come along. I sit for 6 families this year. That's 11 kids - not all at the same time, but it has been a lucrative few years.

Talk about majors and careers paths and future opportunities are a hot topic in our abode with 3 kids in college. My eyes are open to the many different avenues I could've taken. I do wish there had been more of a focus on these things when I was a college kid. I wasn't wired to think that way/not my mindset, and my folks were certainly not ones to urge a broad career path conversation.

When we know better, we do better and I think we are doing better for our kids (particularly the girls- in my fam the girls were only encouraged to be a certain things). I sometimes wonder what would have been, but I also loved being home with our kids and they appreciate that now. I think I'm too old to spend the money on another degree. But - maybe I'll but a heat press and make college collage banners. ;)

Ernie said...

Bijoux - When I was in college, a family I babysat for belonged to the golf course where my brothers (and Coach) caddied. I was paid very well, but my brothers made SO MUCH MONEY from this couple, especially during a tournament. I used to think BUT I KEPT THEIR CHILDREN SAFE WHILE THE FOLKS WERE GOLFING IN SAID TOURNAMENT AND I MADE A FRACTION OF THE MONEY THEY MADE. It is true that caring for my kids was a big job and I'm fortunate that I was able to do that. It sure wasn't easy - financially, or otherwise.

My stories for the book that I'd like to publish are often not edgy enough or are too 'down-home'-ish to be published by online magazines, like cute, but not saucy, maybe. I usually am better at handling the NOT FOR US email, but this one was more specific. After sleeping on it and reviewing it with my former junior college teacher, I had an easier time seeing their point. Back to the drawing board.

Ernie said...

Pat - Ireland was wonderful. We arrived home last night. I will need a nap today. And maybe every day for a week. Hard to believe I hadn't been there in 20 years. I hope to make an effort to go back in maybe 5 to 7 years.

I died laughing at men surprisingly having a good survival rate. That is hilarious.

I do wonder if there are other avenues that might work out for me. I do like having my summers off though. I also like being my own boss. 2 year old's can try to boss me, but I always win. I've told "Coach that I want to purchase property and maybe rent it our - maybe near Norte Dame. Use it when we need it, for games and visits (or when I go back to grad school there full time - I kid), and rent it out the rest of the time.

My goal was always 10 years with the daycare and I'm almost done with my 8th. I have a new baby starting in the fall - the mom teaches at our high school and she is delightful, so I anticipate she will be lovely to work with. I can see myself doing more than 10 years, but hopefully slowing down to 3 or 4 days a week.

Ernie said...

Colleen - You made me laugh at me fake watching your fake kids. Well, said. In that same vein, I would like to come out and eat some fake ice cream, because I hear it isn't so hard on the waistline. ;)

Coach feels horrible that he misspoke, because he does really believe that I do a great job and provide a priceless service for these families. He occasionally stops home for a few minutes when I'm feeding lunch to the masses and he will stare and say NO IDEA HOW YOU DO THIS. When a family mistreats me or pushes the envelope or is too demanding, he gets very upset and tells me to drop them like they're hot. Not worth it if they don't appreciate me. Still, he shouldn't have said my job wasn't 'real', but I know what he meant.

Whole Foods moved a few years ago - it was in a building directly behind Coach's PT clinic. Like across the parking lot. I REALLY, REALLY wanted to take it over and put a basketball court in there. It was just a conversation, nothing more. Not like I looked into costs or anything - but we travel far and wide for b-ball tournaments and those places charge an arm and a leg to get in. Someone snatched it up and opened a hockey place in the space and it almost killed me. It would've been so close to home and I think it would've been a gold mine.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - I'm touched that you feel my plight, and at the same time I feel bad that you have a similar struggle. It isn't easy to pave your own way and try to craft a career around caring for your own child/children. I do think I've done a great job at turning my ability to babysit/offer care into something more lucrative than we ever would've imagined.

I almost didn't publish this though, because I KNOW Coach doesn't really feel like my business/work/efforts are not real and I don't want people to be angry with him. One of our children once got mad at me and said YOU'RE JUST A BABYSTTING and that stung. Coach was furious.

If I was able to succeed in my writing goals, I think my sensitivity about not having a 'career' would subside. Thanks for the encouragement. Back at you.

Ernie said...

Nance - Coach really does realize that my job is challenging. He fills in for me from time to time - usually during nap time when he is home early enough and I can run errands or go to a doctor appointment, because we both know he can't handle the busier times. When he stops home at lunch occasionally, he shakes his head and says he has no idea how I do it.

To him, taking time off is so complicated because patients who've had surgery need to be seen X number of times. He insists that he only meant that I'm in charge of my schedule. Still, he gets paid for time off and I don't.

I do think it's a pity that people would say anything negative about the teaching profession. I usually hear people say just the opposite, things like I COULDN'T DO THAT. I know teachers do so much in the evenings - grading papers, planning lessons.

Ally Bean said...

Huh. Well, glad to know you don't have a real job because you fooled me. I could have sworn you were working at keeping kids safe and healthy and entertained, but joke's on me because you aren't. And that money you earn is fake, too? Coach knows these things, eh? Uh huh

Ernie said...

Ally - You are not wrong. Yes he know and he regrets his slip-up. Ed is very grateful for my income at the moment since it is financing his last year of college tuition. Men and speaking - not always a good match up.

kate said...

Ah Ernie, You said: "My eyes are open to the many different avenues I could've taken. I do wish there had been more of a focus on these things when I was a college kid. I wasn't wired to think that way/not my mindset, and my folks were certainly not ones to urge a broad career path conversation."

And that is surely true. And change is so scary and so hard. But you are at the perfect time and place to make a change. If you love logistics, go for it. And you are not the only mid-life career changer.
Toni Morrison started her professional career as an English professor in Texas, and then taught in Washington, D.C. She published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, at age 40.
Jacob Cohen had been moonlighting as a standup comic since his early 20s. He finally “got some respect” after his debut performance—under stage name Rodney Dangerfield —on The Ed Sullivan Show at age 46.
Renowned fashion designer Vera Wang didn't design her first dress until she was 40
Henry Ford created the revolutionary Model T car at age 45
Stan Lee created his first hit comic, "The Fantastic Four," just shy of his 39th birthday
Martha Stewart, the home and kitchen icon, didn't find real success until age 41, when her first cookbook published.
Donald Fisher was 40 and had no experience in retail when he opened the first Gap store in San Francisco in 1969.
Julia Child worked in advertising and media before writing her first cookbook when she was 50,
Ray Kroc spent his career as a milkshake-device salesman before buying McDonald's at age 52 in 1954

If you don't try you will never succeed.

Kara said...

I want to comment on the not doing what you went to school for. It's not me, but my husband. He has a degree in culinary arts. In his job, he's a safety manager. Like writes disaster response plans, wrote the Covid policies for a multinational corporation, etc. Has no school training on this. Just kind of fell into it and found out he's really good at being pragmatic, organized and willing to travel with short notice.

Ernie said...

Kate - I'm not sure this is the perfect time and place to make a change because we do have 3 kids in college - tuition for me too? Although, I suppose I could try to put togehter a resume and see what I can find. My guess is I'd have to take a pay cut though, and I'd have less flexibility. Paycut and inflexiblity while having kids in college is not really ideal either. While I'm babysitting, I am able to grab my teens and get them to the ortho, or make dinner, or start laundry.

This is an impressive list of people doing amazing things later in the game. I'll probably stick to trying to get my writing to be my 'thing' or my focus. Or maybe a college collage banner business, on the side. It does make one think. I appreciate your vote of confidence.

Ernie said...

Kara - You make a good point. There are a number of people I know that are not working in the field that they studied in school. I feel like there is so much pressure to figure out what you want to do/choose a major in college - but opportunities await. Sounds really cool that your husband figured out this unique path.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I'm shocked that my Coach has never spouted the same line...I've waited for it, but it's not happened. (yet?)
We all know what he meant, and it wasn't meant to be hurtful, as he knows the value you provide to your kiddos and family. You are such a tremendous asset to the kids that you care for and not to mention what you do for others.

I wouldn't be surprised if you pulled An Old Switcharoo in a career change; nothing surprises me anymore and you are uber-talented in many areas.

Sorry about the hurtful rejection letter; that must sting, but you know you are talented and must keep on.

Ernie said...

Suz - I do know what he meant. He was focused on how it would work if he took days off - what he meant by 'real' was his work has structue and my schedule is up to my discretion. He knows he stepped in it.

The timing was bad - with the HEY THIS IS WHY WE ARE REJECTING YOU EMAIL FOLLOWING HIS OOPS. Not my favorite night.

I do wonder if I'll give something else a try, but I DO like to be my own boss. I do like to be paid in cash. I do like summers off. So maybe I'm right where I need to be. Unless I buy a large heat press and start making photo flag thing-ies for college dorm rooms. ;)

Charlie said...

I’ve gone down a really different path to you when it comes to children and a career. I’ve only one bio child and a stepson and I’ve never been a sahm; I am the main earner in my family. I think that’s why I love reading your blog and seeing what it’s like to have a big family and wahm flexibility. Your business is a definite career and has allowed you the flexibility I can only dream of. I would say be careful what you wish for, especially with some of your kids still living at home. A job working for someone else is not all it’s cracked up to be when you need to take time off for appointments, sickness, general running around for your family. I love the balance you and coach seem to have with work/life and it’s so interesting to read about. You are a very talented communicator and your time will come when you can get your work out to the wider world.

Bibliomama said...

Oof, yeah, it would take quite a few glasses-delivering errands to cancel that out, but boys - sometimes they're just dumb.
It seems silly to travel all that way and not see the people you'd like to see, so I really hope that works out.
What I am doing now kind of is my dream career that I should have been aiming for the first time around, but I felt like, I don't know, it was cheating or something? (Girls - sometimes dumb too). I have one friend who has been able to go from running a day home to more of an office job, and as much as the babysitting must have ample rewards, I think transitioning to something less sticky and back-breaking would be lovely for you.
I can actually imagine going to university with my daughter - she's already being taught by some of my profs from 30 years ago, after that unexpected weirdness I think anything else would just be in the noise. But after doing my library tech diploma so many years after my masters, I think I'm done with school - I like to read stuff that's educational and dense, I just don't want to be tested on it anymore.

Ernie said...

Charlie - That is true - we have followed very different paths. I'm touched that you enjoy reading about the direction/family adventures that I ramble on about. ;)

I think I'm more aware of my career path, or lack thereof, as I talk with our kids about what they want to do, and what they want to study. I do think I've got a good deal, most of the time. I have moments of self-doubt though. I think if I'd at least have started out with a more defined career path and then chosen to be a daycare provider, I'd feel better about it. But maybe not.

I do hope that my writing will one day be a bit more noticed. I've actually gotten an idea recently. Think 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding', but more along the lines of growing up in an American household where everything Irish was the focus. I have some funny stories and I wonder if putting them in that context might make for good reading, etc. Stay tuned.

Ernie said...

Ali - I laughed at boys being dumb sometimes. And girls share that same issue at times. I was definitely not motivated or focused on a career or my future when I was in college. I wanted to be a mom, but there are other things and I didn't really consider those years at the time.

I'm with you on not wanting to be tested on things anymore. I did enjoy the few writing classes that I took during the pandemic. It was still a bit hectic to get that done while juggling life and babysitting.

I'm hoping to only sit 4 days a week next year. I have to break that news to one family. They're part time but they want me on Fridays and I'm not doing it next year - except on an occasional/grandma's out of town basis.

I can imagine you at university with Eve too. I know that she's been taught by some of your profs. Is it just me? I sometimes forget that I'm older now. I assume everyone I meet is older than me and sometimes I'm like OOPS, HE'S MY AGE, etc.