Working Woman

On May 22, 2012 I began a journey that has been chronicled in this blog.  At the time staying home with my kids was the most important thing.  For different reasons they all benefited from having a parent stay at home with them full time.  A common question that I got from people was if I would go back to work once all three kids were in school all day.

And for a long time Matt and I weren’t sure what the answer to that was.  Going back to work full time would mean that Cameron and Kaylee at least would have to be in daycare before or after school (and depending on my hours, possibly both).  We knew that there was no way I could get a job that would pay me the salary that I was making at my old job.  After all it had taken me 10 years to get to the position I was in, and there were few if any companies that would hire me off the street into a similar position immediately.

We considered part time work briefly, but in the last two years changes kept occurring that seemed to nullify that option as well.  First, our school district changed the bus routes so that my house was too close to the school to have a bus stop near the house.  They’d have to walk to the other end of the neighborhood to catch the bus.  Then they changed the boundaries all together so that my kids should have gone to a different elementary school, but we grandfathered in to the old one.  That meant no bussing whatsoever, near my house or otherwise.  Then Brendan decided to go to an alternative middle school that was not his home school, which means he can’t be bussed either.

So here we were with three kids not going to their home schools and needing transportation both to and from school.  My mornings won’t change too much, Brendan gets dropped off by 7:45, but the little ones still don’t go to school until 8:30.  That meant that I couldn’t show up at any job until probably 9:00 in the morning.  After school the little ones don’t get out until 3:45 but Brendan gets out at 3:00, meaning I would have to be off work no later than 2:30.  Then our elementary school throws an even bigger wrench in the works by having early dismissal on Wednesdays at 2:15.  That would mean on Wednesdays I would have to be off work no later than 1:45.

What company would willingly hire someone to work 5 hours or less every day, right in the middle of the day?  Not too many that I could think of so the plan, for now, was to continue staying at home.  That isn’t to say that I wasn’t looking for a job.  But since we weren’t desperate for additional income, I allowed myself to be choosy.  If I was going to go back to work, why not look for something that I enjoyed, rather than something that would pay the bills.

I could think of two companies that sounded like fun to work for and I kept my eyes and ears open for any opportunities that would meet my needs hour wise.  First was our local hockey team.  I spend most weekend nights at the arena during hockey season and I would love to give back to the organization that gives so much enjoyment to the community.  The other was our school district.  The school district in general, and our elementary school specifically have given so much individualized care to my kiddos, especially Brendan that I would love to be able to give back to them.  I spent as much time as I could volunteering for both organizations, hoping some day to turn my free time into paid time.

Exactly 1,134 days after becoming a full time stay at home mom, I made the decision to become a working woman again.  It was another of those things that I wasn’t expecting to happen, and the opportunity just kind of fell into my lap.  For the past two years I have been getting notifications of new jobs available in our school district.  I check them out, but to be honest I was not interested in working at just any old school.  I wanted to work in one of the schools my kids either currently or will soon be attending.  My ultimate desire was to work at the kids elementary school.  Having had students there for the past 6 years I knew what an awesome environment it was.  But no jobs ever seemed to be posted for our school.

That changed the last week in June.  Late Monday evening of that week I was sitting on the front porch and skimming the newest job openings.  A position at our elementary school caught my eye, and I decided to check it out.  The position looked interesting, it would be a part time paraprofessional in the resource room.  Based on that alone I knew, to a degree, what the job would entail, I can’t count the number of paras who had helped Brendan throughout his six years there.  Reading on I appeared to meet the basic qualifications for the job, so I checked out the hours.  Hours are generally what kills my ability to take on a job.  As I said above I have to be able to get the kids to and from school each day.  The hours were almost perfect.  I could still get all of the kids to school, and I had no problem getting the little ones picked up after school.  The only fly in the ointment was that I wouldn’t be able to pick up Brendan from school.

Despite that minor setback I decided that this was as good a fit as any for a job, and I applied right then and there.  The last time I applied for a job with the district it was a couple of weeks before I heard anything back, so I was quite surprised to get an email the very next day requesting I come in for an interview.  I had no time to prepare.  I knew from years of interviewing people for jobs what basic things that an interviewer is looking for in their answers, but I was rusty.  I’d made it to the interview stage for a job at the kids high school as a secretary and was so out of practice with my interview skills that I completely botched it.

I was determined to not do that again, but with almost no time to prepare all I could really do was hope for the best.  I decided to worry about all the things I could control, like showing up for the interview early, and making sure I was dressed to the nines; and not worry about those things I couldn’t control like being unprepared for the interview questions.  The interview lasted less than 15 minutes.  I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.  I answered all of the questions, some, I felt, really well; others not so much.  I did the very best I could and now all I could do was wait.

I can’t tell you how surprised I was to get a phone call just hours later saying the job was mine if I wanted it.  For a brief moment I considered what I had done and wondered if going back to work was the right thing to do.  Only for a moment though.  With all three kids in school all day there is almost no reason for me to be home all day every day.  With this job I will be able to transport them to and mostly home from school with ease.  Even Brendan won’t have to be stuck anywhere for too long.  Within an hour he will be home with us as well.  As for school vacations and summer break, I’m off almost all those times as well.  It will be very rare that I have to work on a day that the kids aren’t in school.  Where else could I get that kind of flexibility?  This really is the perfect job for what our family needs.

It’s a little scary to get back into the working world after such a long absence, but I think I will enjoy it very much.  Plus I can begin to give back to the school district that has done so much for my oldest boy.  I can never pay them back completely, but I can at least make a down payment.

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