I start my new job in 5 days.
After months of submitting resumes, interviewing and buying that very pricey Calvin Klein number below, I have done the seemingly impossible and landed a fantastic job, despite being a stay-at-home mom for the past 12 years.
My feelings for this exciting accomplishment are best summed up in four words:
What have I done?
For the past 12 years I have been living a rather avant-garde life, raising my children, pursuing my passion of working as a writer/producer, and doing things on my own timeline. But everything is about to change. I thought, perhaps, giving myself a creative space, in the form of a blog, might provide a cathartic release for what’s ahead.
Rewind to 2001. I had been working as a video producer for about 6 years. Things were going great. Had some cool projects, like shooting a documentary on lighthouses from California to Washington. But mostly did a lot of commercials, product marketing, and internal communications for the company I worked for. There were great fringe benefits as well, like meeting my husband on a shoot. After we’d been married two years, I decided to take the leap of faith and go freelance. I put in my notice at work, got my farewell lunch, packed my things and bid my corporate co-workers a fond adieu. A week later, I found out I was pregnant.
So, I put on my maternity jeans and put my career on hold. Baby boy arrived and I realized I could write scripts from home with him sitting in his bouncy seat beside me. My new career as a scriptwriting-stay-at-home mommy began. Three years later, we welcomed a daughter. Between Mommy & Me classes, two kids in diapers, breast feeding the baby, and potty training the toddler, I still managed to write a script or two during naps. As the kids got older, I was able to take on more. But first and foremost I was with them for all the milestones and boo boos and timeouts and high-5’s. I was very, very lucky to have been front and center for their young childhood, while keeping a toe in the creative waters of production.
When the kids were both in elementary school, I started going out on shoots again, but getting home in time to pick them up. And as they grew more independent, the projects I was able to take got really cool… I landed a gig as a segment writer for a television show that is syndicated throughout Florida. At the end of our 3rd season, the show won an Emmy. My statuette should be arriving any day now. What a career high!
I’ve been working in video production for about 18 years. In that time, it’s never gotten old. Every time I work on location, or on a set, I always feel so lucky to be there. As amazing and wonderful as my career has been, it is seasonal. I’m crazy busy from January through July and then, it’s as though all production stops. Over the last several years, even the seasonal freelance work has started drying up like a raisin, and work has become scarce. But this year, my income decreased by about 60% from what it had been just three years ago. Because of that reality, I had to make the very difficult decision to turn my life upside down, and start over in a new career.
The job hunting process took 5 months. I submitted resume after resume. Cover letter after cover letter. Oh how I hate writing cover letters. I tweaked each resume to focus on my skills as they applied to each individual job. I think I have, like, 11 versions of my resume. And even though my college degree, work experience and skill set were a PERFECT match for the jobs I was applying for, I’d never hear a word. Nothing. Not even a rejection letter.
The lack of response made me frustrated, confused and angry. Plus, unwanted, obsolete, and washed up. But then, at the end of October, the phone rang. I got my first acknowledgement that somebody actually existed at the other end of the email addresses where resumes are sent. That led to a phone interview with HR in Los Angeles, followed by a Skype interview to Australia, four online tests, a 16-page application, and a face-to-face locally with two people. It was a two-month long process before I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse.
My husband was home when the call came in. We hugged, we did a victory dance, we added up our combined salaries and squealed like pigs. We pulled out a tape measure and began planning to immediately rip out the revolting 10-year-old carpet that has had everything dumped on it from apple juice to silly putty to vomit – both human and canine.
And then the reality set in. Who would take care of the kids after school? Who would get them TO school? Who takes care of them when they’re sick? I have no clothes that aren’t jeans, yoga pants or t-shirts. Seriously, I don’t. I have no shoes that aren’t sneakers, flip flops or boots. There was a LOT to figure out with just 2-weeks to do it. Shit. What have I done?
Then the crying set in.
This was followed by mourning for the career path I want as versus the direction it is now pointed. I will not be doing video production in the new job. I will be a Communications Specialist. I’m not sure what that even means, but I know there will be writing involved. But not the kind of writing that wins Emmys.
This week, I’m wrapping up a 1-hour destination/travel piece for The Florida Keys department of tourism. It will air nationally on noted cable networks. I write from my kitchen table, which is bathed in beautiful natural light from the bay window. In 5 days, I will be sitting in a cubicle with purple fuzzy walls and florescent light. A cubicle. With purple fuzzy walls. And florescent light.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the new job. I do. It will make our life do-able. I can stop saying to my kids, “We have to focus on our needs. Not our wants,” and just say “Yes! You CAN take drama lessons.” Or “Yes! You CAN get a new karate gi since the pants on yours have been capri length for 6 months.” And, “Yes! We CAN tear up that hideous, stained, carpet that reminds me of a homeless man’s dirty sock.”
But, the bottom line is, I’m scared. Scared to say goodbye to what’s familiar and feels good. Like being within 3 miles of my kids at all times. Like starting my day drinking coffee and chatting with my BFF and then my father. Like being bathed in sunlight as I create entertainment, education, motivation and information from my computer at my kitchen table. These things are hard to imagine not doing everyday. This has been my life for 12 years. And it’s been a phenomenal journey…motherhood, being a freelance writer/producer, choosing my hours, and working in bare feet and yoga pants.
Will this blog matter to anyone but me? I don’t know. I stand at the crossroads wondering what the hell I’m about to do. So come with me if you like. I have no idea what lies ahead.