Going Back to Work after 15 Years of Being a SAHM

Getting back into the workforce after 15 years of being a SAHM has been a more of an adjustment than I expected.

It was much harder to find a job that fit my experience than I had initially expected. When I left my full time career to stay home with my first born, I had been a graphic designer. Needless to say, the graphic design field changed over the last decade and a half. The software changed, and, even though I had the skill and the knowledge, I was left behind. Time to reinvent.

Also, just getting through the resume search engines proved daunting. Just getting an interview was beginning to seem impossible.

I was never a “corporate” woman, but rather chose workplaces that were small business and family oriented. But finding those, at least in my area, is like finding a needle in a haystack. But I found one. A small business focused on providing value to their customers. Right up my alley.

But learning something new? I hadn’t done that in, well…a really long time. I mean, I know we learn every day. But learning something other than what kid goes to what class on which day, or learning that I can’t make all those things on pinterest (a post for another day), that was something completely different. I must admit…I was scared. And a little intimidated. And surprisingly insecure.

And then there is the age factor. I am one of the oldest people at my company…and I’m 48…not exactly over the hill quite yet. But apparently, old enough to have almost nothing in common with most of my co-workers. We don’t share the same interests, our work ethic is different, and I don’t skim through my smart phone nearly as much as they do. I feel like I have to work harder to prove my worthiness than my younger counterparts do.

But there have been some good things too.

To begin with, I’m not as affected by every little headline that I see pop up on social media. Not only because I don’t see them as often, but because I don’t have time to worry about what the blonde on the news is blathering about. I don’t have the time to invest. I’m too busy figuring out when I’m going to do the laundry, or realizing I forgot to get something out for dinner (again), or making sure everyone gets their homework done.

One of the best things that has come out of going back to work is my kids are developing their independence.

They are discovering that they can be so much more responsible than they were when I was home over-seeing things. I was ALWAYS here. Now they have to be sure they have everything with them in the morning, because I can’t leave work to bring them whatever it was they may have forgotten. It’s they’re responsibility.

They need to do their dishes and their homework without me reminding them.  They have to pitch in with cleaning the house, and doing the laundry, and taking out the trash, because I just don’t have the time. And they’re doing a fabulous job so far.

So even though I miss my time to write (which I’m still trying to fit in), and I wish that Saturdays weren’t designated for laundry and running errands, I feel like going back to work full time was a good decision for my family…even if I’m the oldest woman in the company. I’ll let you know when (if) I get used to that one.

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Chapter Four – Understanding Kasey

“Mom, come on! I can’t be late!” Kasey yelled. She was losing her patience fast.

Naomi lifted the couch cushion, and looked in the creases of the chair.

“I’ll just be a minute. I think I lost Daddy’s keys. I always have an extra pair lying around here. They must be here somewhere,” Naomi said. She was determined to find the keys that didn’t exist anymore.

“Come on! You can bring him the keys later!” Kasey yelled. He’s dead anyways! She wanted to scream.

“Nope, they aren’t there. Just a minute sweetie,” Naomi said.

Finally, Kasey reached into her purse and pulled out her own keys. She shook them wildly.

“Here they are! Look! I found them! Can we please go?!” Kasey said, at the end of her rope.

“Oh, good. Here let me have them,” Naomi said, and reached for them.

Kasey pulled away, knowing that Naomi would realize they weren’t her Dad’s keys if she got too close. The brain sure worked in weird ways when it was broken, Kasey thought to herself.

“No, no…that’s okay. I’ll hold on to them. Grab your sweater,” she instructed and pointed to Naomi’s sweater on the chair, distracting her long enough to get her out the door.

“Where are we going again?” Naomi asked once they were in the car.

“To work, Mom,” Kasey said, exhausted, and running late.

Naomi seemed satisfied with the answer, and was quiet the rest of the ride.

 

Kasey walked briskly into the bar, her mom following close behind.

“You’re late,” Ben, the other bartender, said.

“I know, I know. I’m sorry,” Kasey said and motioned to her mom. She walked her mom down to the end of the bar and made sure she was comfortable. She threw her purse in the locked cabinet, and poured herself a small glass of beer, and drank it down quickly.

Ben scowled at her, and left. Kasey poured her mom a club soda and set it in front of her.

“You good now?” Kasey asked.

“Thank you, sweetie,” Naomi said.

Kasey watched her mom as she sipped her drink, and slipped into her zone. Guilt overwhelmed her. Bill watched from down the bar.

“You need a refill?” Kasey asked him.

“You need a break?” he asked in return.

Kasey smiled at the thought. If only it was that easy. He slid his glass across the bar and she refilled his beer.

“Do you ever leave this place?” Kasey provoked him.

He smiled. “I have a life, you know.”

Yeah, well…” Kasey said, and went about getting the bar ready for the evening regulars.

 

Willow wandered in around 7:25pm and sat next to Bill.

“You back again?” Bill asked.

“Yep.”

“I thought we would’ve scared you off,” Bill teased.

“Not a chance. Besides, now that you know my secret, I gotta keep my eye on you people,” Willow needled. “Did I miss some excitement?” she asked him, and nodded towards Kasey, who grumbled to herself quietly.

“She’s kind of roughed up, I think. Looks like Naomi had a rough day.”

“I wish we could do something to help,” Willow said.

Bill shrugged his shoulders.

“Does she have any family?” Willow wondered out loud.

“I don’t think so. As far as I know, it’s just her and Naomi. I’ve never heard her mention anyone else.”

“That’s a shame,” Willow commented.

“You’re back again, huh? Tom Collins?” Kasey asked, and tucked a stray chunk of hair behind her ear.

“No, I think I’ll stick with club soda tonight,” she said.

“I thought you might,” Kasey said. She was all business, cleaning the bar, and washing glasses, and straightening bottles. Willow could tell she was avoiding talking, so she didn’t press her for conversation. Instead she talked to Bill. Bill talked about his years as a bus driver and the characters he met. He said it wasn’t so different from being a bartender, except for the drunk part, although he did run into his share of drunks on the bus. Willow discovered he was a great storyteller. His stories got more colorful as the evening wore on. She thought that being a bus driver would make for some great writing material. She made a mental note to take the bus more often.

“No Judy tonight?” Willow asked as she looked around the near empty bar.

“Guess not,” Bill said.

“Didn’t she say she was going to her sister’s for the weekend, or something like that?” Kasey commented.

Willow turned to Bill to answer her.

“What are you looking at me for? I don’t keep track of that wild red head,” Bill said.

“Really? You don’t talk to her outside of the Anchor?” Willow asked.

“What gave you that idea?” Bill asked.

“I don’t know. The way you two hassle each other, I thought you were friends or something,” Willow said.

“We are…just not in the real world,” Bill said.

“She wouldn’t have him anyways,” Kasey chimed in. “He’s not her type.” She laughed and winked at Bill.

“What’s that supposed to mean?!” Bill piped back defensively.

Willow laughed at the exchange. Kasey had a talent for ruffling people’s feathers.

“Her type? What’s her type?” Willow asked.

“She likes them younger…and with a full head of hair,” Kasey added just for fun.

“Hey!” Bill said and ran his hands through the few hairs combed across his head.

“Ignore her. She’s just egging you on,” Willow said. “I’ve seen her do it before.”

“You have not,” Kasey said.

Willow raised her eyebrows and crossed her arms.

“What?” Kasey asked. “Who are you talking about?” She played innocent.

“You know exactly who I mean. Don’t play innocent with me,” Willow said.

“Who? What?” Bill asked, clearly missing their cryptic conversation.

“She means Chase,” Kasey admitted, as she dunked a glass into the sink.

“Who’s Chase?” Bill asked.

“He’s a young man who works at the coffee shop with her. She hassles him all the time,” Willow said and elbowed Bill. Bill nodded knowingly.

“That’s just because he makes it so easy. If you’re dumb enough to leave the door open, I’m going to go through it,” Kasey said.

Bill caught on, and winked at Willow.

“So, this guy…Chase is it?” Bill asked. Willow nodded.

“Is he good looking?” Bill asked, knowing he was in the driver seat.

“Chase? I guess so. I never really thought about it before. He’s not my type,” Kasey said.

“Does he have all his hair?” Bill sniped. Willow laughed almost spitting out her drink.

“More than you,” Kasey teased.

“Hmmm…I see. And he’s a young man? About your age?” Bill continued.

“Yes, and he’s a college man too,” Willow added.

“Hmmm…” Bill said, and rubbed his chin.

Willow leaned closer and whispered to Bill, “They are perfect for each other.”

“What are you two talking about down there?” Kasey asked.

“Nothing, dear. Bill’s just rambling. You know how he gets,” Willow said quickly. She’d planted a seed and that was good enough for now.

“Yeah, you know me. Just rambling. Maybe I’ll have to trade my beer in for coffee and come see this guy,” Bill said.

“Really? You’re going to trade your beer for coffee,” Kasey said.

“Nah, you’re probably right. Guess I’ll have to let Willow keep me informed about this college man,” Bill said.

Willow winked at Bill.

“Sorry to disappoint you, Bill, but there’s nothing to tell,” Kasey said, and changed the subject. “Mom, are you hungry?”

“What? Are you talking to me?” Naomi asked.

“Yes. Would you like something to eat?” Kasey said again, leaving the ‘mom’ part out this time.

“No, I’m fine, thank you,” Naomi said.

“Would one of you mind going next door to Tony’s and get her a slice of pizza? She was so busy looking for those stupid keys I forgot to make her eat something,” Kasey asked.

Neither Bill or Willow were sure what she was talking about, but they figured it had something to do with the mood she was in when she got there.

“I got it,” Bill said. “Just cheese?”

“Yeah, that’s fine. Thanks, Bill,” Kasey said, and slid a five dollar bill across the bar to him.

“She had a rough day, huh?” Willow asked, cautiously.

“Yep. It’s always something,” Kasey said, and walked away.

Willow wanted to reach out to her, but she knew Kasey wouldn’t talk about it. She hoped that they hadn’t teased her too much about Chase.

When Bill got back, he handed the pizza to Kasey and she took it down to Naomi.

“Do you think your mom would talk to me?” Willow asked Kasey.

“She might. It all depends on her mood,” Kasey said.

Willow picked up her drink and moved down the bar to where Naomi was seated. Willow sat at the corner of the bar near Naomi.

“Is the pizza good?” Willow asked her.

Naomi didn’t answer, she just kept eating.

“Ask her about Cliff,” Kasey suggested.

“Cliff?” Willow asked.

“He was my grandfather…her dad. I never met him. Her long-term memory is nearly flawless. She just can’t remember what she had for breakfast this morning. Her short-term memory is shot,” Kasey said.

Willow gave Kasey a wink.

Willow turned to Naomi. “Does Cliff like pizza?” she asked.

Naomi’s face lit up. “Oh, yes. He loves pizza! Especially anchovy. I can’t stand anchovy pizza, but he loves anchovies. Even puts them on his salad sometimes. Do you remember the time that he tried to sneak anchovies onto Mama’s pizza and she nearly gagged?! That was so funny!” Naomi said and laughed.

Willow figured she’d play along. She looked to Kasey for her approval, and Kasey shrugged her shoulders.

“That was funny!” Willow agreed.

“Of course, fish was a staple at our house. I guess that’s what happens when you work on the docks, right?” Naomi said.

Willow nodded and looked to Kasey for clarification.

“He worked on the docks. He was a fisherman. She always used to go down there to hang out with him when she was a young girl,” Kasey said.

“The docks! I love the docks! Oh, my gosh! What time is it? Do you want to go down there with me? We could play hide-and-seek on the boats if you want,” Naomi said. She sounded like a little girl.

“Oh, I think it’s a little late. It’s dark outside,” Willow said.

“That’s the best time! The boats creak and moan and it’s so scary…and fun!” Naomi said.

Kasey heard the conversation and stepped in to rescue Willow.

“We can’t, remember? He’s on an overnight trip. The boats aren’t there,” Kasey said.

Naomi looked disappointed. “Oh, boo! Maybe tomorrow?” she said to Willow.

Willow looked to Kasey and Kasey nodded at her.

“I think tomorrow would be better,” Kasey said.

Willow played along. “Yes, I can go tomorrow too.”

“Oh good! It’s a plan!” Naomi said.

Willow was quiet for a few moments and Naomi went back to eating as if the conversation had never happened. Willow picked up her drink and made her way back to the seat next to Bill.

“Weird, isn’t it?” he said.

“That must be so hard on Kasey,” Willow said, feeling deep sympathy for Kasey. “How does she do it?”

“She’s a tough kid. I don’t think she really had a choice in the matter,” Bill said.

Willow had a new appreciation for the pain that Kasey probably felt on a daily basis. She couldn’t imagine having her own mother not know who she was half the time, or not know that she even had a daughter. No wonder Kasey was the way she was.

Reducing Computer Time…Again

We’re conducting an experiment in our house…we’re reducing the kids’ computer time significantly.

Over the summer, things got out of hand. I was working a part time job from my home, and the kids had to be quiet for about 6 hours a day, 3 days a week. Add to that weekends, and having a mom that can’t drive (so can’t run them all over town), and we had a summer in front of the screen. Keep in mind my kids are 11 and 15. It’s harder to keep that age away from the technology. It’s their life! Especially for one of the kids…the teenager.

Then came the start of school, and their “screen time schedule” got uprooted. What?! Go to school for 7 hours a day or more?! That’s insane! What are the schools thinking demanding that of my poor kids! (Please note my sarcasm).

So, after first quarter grades came out…the hammer came down!

I should add that, though not catastrophic, the grades just weren’t up to the standards we require.

It seemed as if there was very little homework, or that it had “magically” gotten done in class at school. Yeah, well…my parents never believed that and neither do I.

The new rules are that no one goes on the computer, except for school-related homework or projects, until after dinner. Which, depending on the evening schedule, doesn’t leave a lot of time.

It’s only been a week, but already I see improvement. Kids aren’t exhibiting as much stress, they aren’t rushing through homework to get to their computer time, and they are all around nicer to be around. They even TALK TO ME now.

We are also re-instituting “family game night.”

I can tell you that this initially did NOT go over well with them. There was a lot of groaning and eye-rolling (again, mostly from the older one). But then I explained that I didn’t want the only time I talked to them to be “do your homework,” “come eat dinner,” “go take a shower,” and “get up for school!”

They, of course, disagreed that this was occurring, until I pointed out that by the time I get home from work, they have already done their homework (so they said), and had already gotten on the computer. Then I made dinner, they stopped the computer long enough to eat together (all of 20 minutes, if I was lucky), then go take showers and go back to the computer, then off to bed! No words! No talking! If I didn’t get them to talk between bites of food at the dinner table, we just didn’t talk!

As I’m writing this, it occurs to me how much judgment I am probably incurring from many parents reading this. I get it. But we all mess up. We all get lazy sometimes. And after working a full day (which I haven’t done for 15 years) I’ll admit it…I was tired! I almost welcomed the quiet. But it wasn’t good for any of us.

So, we’ll see how it goes. I’ll write a follow-up post to this in a few months. Hopefully, we won’t have gotten lost and fallen back into our old pattern. Hopefully, the semester grades will be stunning! Hopefully, we’ll even enjoy talking to each other.

What’s your rule for computer/technology use during the school year? Are you able to stay consistent?

Getting Real – what real friendship is about

There we were, 12 women, sitting on the patio of a neighborhood coffee shop on a balmy summer evening as the sun set behind us. We saw each other nearly every weekend at church. We passed in the hallway, and waved or nodded “hello” as we dropped our kids off at Sunday school and then headed back to the sanctuary for service.

But as we sat on that patio and discussed our study, we began to realize that we were virtual strangers.

We shared the same beliefs, and were friendly enough to carry on small talk about school being over, and swim team starting up, but we never really got into the nitty-gritty of life. We never got messy, or shared the dirt of our lives. We kept that to ourselves, to guard like some dirty secret.

We never really got “real” with one another.

That’s what it’s like for so many women in this technological age. We communicate quickly, usually through a text, and in abbreviations. But we never really hold each other up and bear with one another under the weight of life.

How many times have you answered “Fine” when someone asked how things were going, when you wanted to scream the truth…that you really needed a friend and wanted to just sit and talk about life for a while?

But we say we’re busy…but are we really?

We can’t afford to be that busy. We can’t afford to be autonomous islands who can do ten things at once and still have dinner on the table at 6:00pm and the kids in bed by 9:00pm. And who really reaches that goal anyways?

If we would just be “real” with one another we’d know that there are no Jones’ to keep up with…they don’t exist. The Jones’ are a myth, an anomaly, that we created just to keep us feeling like we’ll never measure up.

So, there we were…12 women, sitting on the porch on a balmy summer eve, learning something about each other. But more importantly, learning something about ourselves. We aren’t so different from one another. I fail just like you do. I will never get the kids to bed by 9:00pm, and dinner might be on the table by 6:00pm, but you can bet it will be take-out picked up on the way home from soccer practice.

Therein lies the beauty of being a woman: we are flawed for a reason. We are flawed so that we can be empathetic and supportive to one another. We’re flawed so that we can hold each other up when life seems too big to stand alone. We weren’t meant to go it alone.

We were made flawed so that we can be “real,” not some fictional character that we can never reach.

Right there on that patio, we decided to be “real” from then on. We decided not to hide behind smiles, or schedules, or texts. We decided to be accountable to one another. To say how we really felt, even if it wasn’t fine. To ask for help if we needed it, and not be ashamed. And to laugh…I mean one of those laughs that starts at your toes and makes your eyes tear and your head hurt where you can’t catch your breath.

Because being “real” is so much better than pretending. Being “real” is the best part of having female friends.

What do you need to do to be “real” with your friends?

Too Tired

I just started a new job. For the first time in 15 years (since I had kids), I’m re-joining the full-time-employed.

It’s only been a week since I started. I’m not digging ditches, or building buildings, and I’m not a machinist or even an iron worker. All of which I have mad respect for. Heck, I’m not even waiting tables (also, mad respect).

But MAN, AM I POOPED!

Crazy, right?

Apparently, years of working a part time desk job out of my home, and being a SAHM has taken a toll on my stamina. That, and well…I’m 15 years older than the last time I worked full time.

But I love it! I’ve missed the independence and sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

It’s a huge adjustment for the whole family…especially for my kids. And my husband too, but he’s a big boy, he can handle it.

My kids are suddenly going to have to take more responsibility, and it’s about time. So far, they’ve responded well. They’ve done their dishes, and done their homework without me (as much as they could), but it’s only been a week.

I wrote a post some time ago about trying to teach my kids basic life skills. I must admit, I didn’t do as well with following through as I wanted to. But maybe that’s about to change.

My husband could de-bone a chicken and have dinner in the oven before his parents got home from work by the time he was 11 years old, so they should be able to do it too, right? Hey, a girl can dream.

I think I’ve sold my kids short by not giving them opportunities to prove to themselves that they can do things on their own. I know they can do it, now THEY need to know they can do it.

I know once I get a rhythm going, I’ll feel much better, and have more energy (at least I hope I will), but for now…I’m tired.

It feels great to feel like I’m part of something again. Please understand, I’m not criticizing SAHMs at all. Everyone needs to choose what’s right for them. As I said, I stayed home for 15 years to be with my kids, and I don’t regret a moment of it.

It’s just time for a new Chapter.

It’s now 8:15pm…is it too early to go to bed? LOL

Make home improvements OR remain happily married?

 

Years ago, I worked at a carpet store, where I constantly heard stories, nightmares really, of how miserable it was to go through a home improvement. Couples couldn’t agree on carpet color or texture, and deciding between hardwood floors or laminate proved equally objectionable.

My husband and I have never gone through anything as extensive as a remodel, and I dread the day that we do. I think moving might be a better choice than coming to verbal blows over tile or hardwood.

It’s that time of year for us when the H.O.A. (Home Owner’s Association) makes its annual assessment of our properties. HOA’s are great for keeping property values up, I suppose, but their “improvements” never seem to improve my checkbook or my marriage, and this year is no exception.

This year, it’s our deck. Though it can hardly be called a “deck,” rather more like a balcony. It’s on the second level and measures all of 6’x8’. We never even use it because it faces our neighbor’s living room, and unless we suddenly develop an interest in peering in on our neighbor’s lives, we will continue to not use it.

Now my husband and I complement each other, in that his strengths are my weaknesses and vice-versa. It’s how we work. But when it comes to working together on a home improvement, we’ve learned that it’s best if we stay out of each other’s way.

I’m usually the DIY person around the house, so I was really surprised when he said that he wanted US to do part of the improvement. What?! Is he crazy?! We can’t do that! We’ll kill each other! Not to mention that we don’t have the proper tools, or expertise to do said improvement.

We compromised: we hired a handyman to do the actual repairs, but my husband insisted that we could do the painting. I was skeptical to say the least. That meant renting a ladder (we don’t own an extension ladder) and one of us would have to go up that ladder and do the painting, and it wasn’t going to be me…not this time. But he assured me that we could get it done.

I called my brother who happens to be a handyman in another state (he inherited my Dad’s skill), and I was feeling pretty confident. Maybe we could do this. Maybe if we pulled together, and had a plan, we could work together and paint the balcony, without ending up in divorce court.

That was two weeks ago.

Since then, we’ve argued about getting it done, having enough time to get it done, doing it right but quickly, getting it done in the timeframe the H.O.A. allotted.

Just to add more stress, my husband suddenly got really busy at work, I got a new job, and time was still ticking. Tensions were running high!

I started with a coat of primer on the deck today, and realized…we are in over our heads!

I put in a call to a handyman, and he’s coming tomorrow.

Now, maybe I reacted to soon. Maybe we could have done it ourselves. Maybe we could have done it without killing each other.

But it just seems like a couple hundred dollars for a handyman will be much less expensive than marriage counseling would have cost.

How about you? Have you and your significant other ever attempted a home improvement together?

Taking a Poll…

I’m taking an informal poll, based on something I heard.

 

Without going into details, I thought it would be interesting to get an idea of what my readers think:

What income bracket do you consider to be Middle Class?

 

Thanks for participating. Have a Happy Friday the 13th! 😊