For any reader in the middle of a heat wave, like we are here in the Northeast, I offer this cool image.
In my fourth week of working full-time. Something about saying that, “working full-time”, and hearing the responses to my news (“Oh, you’ve gone back to work?”) have made me want to write somewhere a list of a few of the things that I accomplished while I was “not working”. It is disorienting to have crossed the divide between Stay-at-home-mom and Working-mother, and my guess is that the list is one of the ways I am trying to integrate the experience.
So, while not working, I:
- Designed almost a dozen gardens and installed all but two of them;
- Participated in Newton Open Studios four times (hosting three of those times) and partook in at least 15 craft shows — organizing PR for one of them;
- Had a solo show at the Arsenal Center for the Arts;
- Showed in the Quilter’s Connection show for 3 or 4 years, and helped hang the show two of those years and co-chaired PR the year before last;
- Helped beautify the grounds at my local elementary school, including: planting a butterfly garden with second graders; soliciting a landscape contractor to donate three raised beds; advocating that the city make-good on a contractual obligation to replace plantings destroyed during a renovation; soliciting donations from two nurseries and Home Depot; organizing four NewtonServes; recruiting parents to build a tool shed; forming a committee to totally renovate the side yard where drainage was a severe problem & to that end — raised almost $300,000, acted as project coordinator working with six departments across the city over a period of two and half years; weeding with first graders; making salad and basil with first graders and kindergartners with greens and herbs that we planted together; helping to create several Earth Day celebrations; propagating plants on the grounds with fourth graders; and, and, and…
- Made quilts for four elementary school teachers, incorporating art work of the students, and in one case, using fabric butterflies that second graders created in a workshop that I ran;
- Served on Bowen School Council;
- Served as Ass’t Treasurer for the kids’ preschool;
- Virtually single-handedly advocated for our two boys during elementary and middle school to obtain proper testing and services for their learning disabilities, including obtaining private testing; getting the city to pay for one (pricey) intervention; hiring tutors; reviewing IEPs; attending meetings; following up with teachers; etc.
- Taken the kids to virtually every doctor appointment (K. just learned where the pediatrician’s office is) — including two years when both boys were in braces;
- Made paper with four year olds; made paper with 6 year olds;
- Taught religious ed at the UU in West Newton for 5 months, made paper with them;
- advocated for my sister, obtaining MaHealth, COBRA, SSI and SSDI and EAEDC — all this past winter and spring;
- Edited over two dozen food articles for a Cooks Illustrated freelance contributor;
- Settled two estates.
And then there were a couple of more official part-time jobs in there. And there was a lot more volunteering at the school — like staffing a table at the Harvest Fair or serving as room parent or helping on the day the kids made Wampanoag crafts.
So, am I “going back to work”? I don’t think so. It’s more like I’m working regular hours for a regular pay check now.
As for how that’s going? Hmmmmmmmmm. The paycheck part is pretty great. The people are super nice. But, if I had tried to come up with an arrangement for letting go of ego, I couldn’t have done much better. Doing all those peon jobs (e.g., standing at a copier, filling out forms, typing, scanning documents) when I have a law degree is humbling. And then fucking up at doing the peon jobs as I learn, is even more so. It’s one thing, I’ve discovered, to have ‘given up’ any feelings of pride or accomplishment about having gotten a JD when I’m making quilts. It’s quite ANOTHER thing when I am in an office working as a paralegal.
Part of me is feeling out and out punished for having taken the time to raise my family. Part of me is inclined to bow down and kiss the ground, grateful to have gotten a job — (yes, I’ll use these tired words) — in this economy. And the truth is, I wouldn’t be able to hack the substantive part yet, anyway — so I’m experimenting with the idea that this is a good thing that came along at just the right time.
I have not been in the studio ONCE in the last three and a half weeks, however, and THAT cannot continue, or I certainly will not be able to believe that this is a good thing that came along at just the right time.