Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Big News

Nope, no baby on the way. Not moving again (although we have been here over five months, which is practically a record). And since engagement and marriage is a done deal already, that leaves...

a new job! I'm going back to work!

I've been applying for jobs (sometimes casually, sometimes frantically, sometimes desperately, sometimes begrudgingly) for about a year on and off, and I finally found one that I think is going to be absolutely perfect for me, as well as for our little family. I will be working full time as a college academic counselor. It's a job I'm very familiar with, since it's a more nuanced version of what I did in college as an Orientation counselor, and I could not be more excited about it!

I will hopefully get around to talking a bit more about my job search later, but I thought I'd share a few things that I've been talking about with friends and family as I've shared my news:

- Of course, the first priority is Marshall. He will start day care tomorrow(!) at a wonderful center we found, and we are really excited for him. He's at an age where he's excited to explore and learn independently, and honestly I feel like my presence sometimes holds him back from doing more. I look forward to seeing how day care opens his mind and perspective, and speaking with all my friends who have kids in day care makes me positive that our whole family will feel really good about the decision once Marshall has adjusted.

- Yes, it will be a huge transition for all of us. Being home with Marshall for 17+ months has been the absolute greatest experience of my life, and I wouldn't change a thing (ugh, how cliche). But when it comes down to it, we feel a lot more comfortable financially with a two-income household. We never planned for me to be a stay-at-home mom, so the fact that it worked out as long as it did was a wonderful gift, but we also think that for where we're living, the lifestyle we hope to have with and for our child(ren), and the retirement we hope to someday achieve, we need to think long-term. Ultimately, that means me going back to work. We were open to having another baby first, but this job came along and seems like an ideal fit, so we're putting baby plans on hold for a bit to let me settle in to this new career. Plus, while at first I felt a little anxious about not getting to stay home with M anymore, I know (mostly from watching friends and family go through it) that it is absolutely possible to enjoy a fulfilling career while still being the mom I want to be to Marshall. Not easy, of course, but possible. :-)

- As for teaching, yes, I loved it, for the most part. But I really struggled to see how I could be the kind of teacher I wanted to be (grading high school English essays took way more time than I wanted to spend at home) with a little one, let alone two. I am also really excited about working with adults more, about advising the college population, and about perhaps feeling a little more control over my daily routine (although who knows if that's realistic in any job). So this career change feels really right to me, though I'm sure there will be days when I miss teaching literature and writing.

- Terry, of course, has been incredibly supportive and positive about the entire experience. He rooted for me tirelessly as I went on interview after interview (after interview after interview...), and he truly made the experience a good one (not easy during a job search!). He didn't pressure me one way or the other, continually asked me what I wanted to do (as opposed to what I felt I should do), and listened to all my "what if"s and crazy ideas. Terry came home in the middle of the day no fewer than 15 times to watch Marshall while I went on interviews, and once I got the job he tolerated my crazy oh-my-goodness-we-have-so-much-we-need-to-do-to-get-ready-for-this-change mindset. I am so grateful to have such a supportive husband.

So on that note, special thanks to my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and friends who have been so kind and motivating to me these last several months. I had a lot of great people behind me, and their confidence in me boosted my mood on those days when I didn't want to job hunt anymore or when I felt bummed about not getting a job. It was completely worth the wait, and I look forward to the next step!

Meanwhile, I really have been driving everyone around me (mostly Marshall, Terry, and the poor cat) a bit crazy with all my to-do lists and insane goals for how our household will function with two working parents and a toddler (and, of course, the aforementioned cat). I plowed through a ton of miscellaneous chores I've been putting off, and now I'm working on getting us all ready for Marshall to start day care and me to start work. The list seems endless, and I know I'll never feel as prepared as I want to, but I guess it's like having a baby in the first place, right? You just figure it out. And so we will.

Some excellent advice I've received from friends:

- Something will have to give. It's great to have goals and chore lists, but it won't all get done all the time, and that's okay. Sometimes I'll miss a workout, or we'll need to order food to go, or we won't get the dishes done. Sometimes all of that will happen in one day, or multiple times in a week. We need to be okay with that and focus on our priorities: quality family time, our health, our sanity.

- Marshall will likely get sick--and maybe a lot or seemingly endlessly--when beginning day care. It's not really something I can do much about, but it's good to mentally prepare ourselves!

- My ultra-organized friend Lulu helped me think about our evening routine. Right now we're pretty relaxed about the whole thing: after we put Marshall down we try to do our workout, maybe tidy up the kitchen, maaaayyyybe do dishes (very hit or miss, usually miss--because I can do them the next day!), then watch a few shows before bed. Now we'll need to focus on packing lunches, prepping breakfasts, packing ourselves and Marshall up for the next day, doing laundry, and cleaning the kitchen for real before bed.

- Another specific tip from my friend Lulu was to have one parent focus on "finishing up today" (cleaning up dinner, washing dishes, doing laundry, etc.), while the other parent focuses on "preparing for tomorrow" (packing lunches, restocking Marshall's day care bag, filling water bottles for the next day, etc.). I love this idea so we won't constantly be checking in with each other about what still needs to be done.

So there are tons of changes coming our way, and hopefully the anticipation will prove to be worse than the reality. Terry and I are both feeling nervous, excited, anxious, ready, and a little sad. Mostly positive, but certainly the next few days will be tough as we drop Marshall off at the daycare center. In the end, we'll figure it out!

Wish us luck--and please send advice our way!


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