The Job of a Lifetime

I love my job as a mother. For years, I’ve known that I wanted to bear and raise children. I love the fact that my degree in early childhood education gives me an “academic” perspective on these years, while my own experience and my mother’s heart gives me a “personal” perspective. It’s important to me to be the primary caregiver for my child in his formative years, and right now I’m planning to remain at home with him through the primary grades. I’m happy at home, for the most part, other than those occasional days we all have.

I feel that I should clarify that before you read what I’m about to write, because I really don’t want to get any comments like, “Well, you know, if that’s what you want to do with your life, why did you have a kid anyway?”

Because, see, when someone asks me what my dream job is? My dream goes beyond these four walls. Even though I’m passionate about the role of motherhood, I know that it’s a job with a deadline. Eventually, kids grow up and you get downsized from the job. What will I be doing with myself then?

I thought I’d love to be teaching again, but under a few new conditions. The joy of teaching, for me, was always in the direct contact with my kids. It was all the other stuff – the incessant paperwork, the pushing-down of curricula and testing to even the youngest children, the crazy parents, the ineffective or inhuman administrations, the clueless legislation—that made it a grind I was happy to escape.

For a while, I dreamed of going back to school for a M.Ed. and a Ed.D., and then teaching the next crop of American educators at a small college somewhere. I could see myself doing educational research, writing important papers, and sharing my wisdom with idealistic young kids who would change the lives of their students. The reality of making that dream happen, though, would involve several years of graduate level work, including the research and writing of a doctoral thesis. I was in high school when my dad completed his first (of two, as of this writing) Masters degree, and I remember feeling simultaneously proud of him and resentful of the time he’d invested in that coursework. I don’t want to do that when my kids are living at home, and I don’t know if I’d have the stamina and drive to do that much coursework and research when I’m in my late 40s.

So then I dreamed of pursuing training in another early childhood model – Montessori, Waldorf, or Reggio-Emilia – and opening my own small school. But the truth is, I don’t have enough knowledge of business to do the practical side of running a school. And being in that position would put me back with the negatives of my previous teaching career, except I’d be the administrator. Further, I’d be responsible for meeting all those random legislated guidelines, and I’d be the bottom line for dealing with the crazy parents. So that’s probably not really for me.

If I do go back to teaching, it will probably be at a small, private preschool, where I could work four or five hours a day with the age group I love the most. Ideally, a class size of ten to twelve 4-year-olds; a day filled with centers for art, pretend play, blocks, fine-motor manipulatives, writing, reading, outdoor play, rest, music & movement; all the best parts that I actually miss.

If anyone is still reading at this point, you get to hear the unvarnished truth: whether I go back to teaching or not, when I think of my dream job, I’d love to be writing. You know, for pay? But what a dream that is – I have no real training, and no clear plan for turning this hobby into a lifestyle or a career. (Other than my as-often-as-possible library getaways. Those do seem to be helping the writing process.) It wouldn’t have to be big bucks; it doesn’t have to be a published manuscript. Just to know that I’d developed my skills, that I was crafting something that was of value, that my words were being read, that I was receiving that feedback (ahem… that paycheck).

Maybe that’s silly, to think that it doesn’t count if you’re not earning money. Even though I write, every day (this month, at least!), when people ask me what I do, I don’t dare answer “I write.” I tell them the truth that they all see: “I’m a stay-at-home mom.” I guess the problem with my dream job is that it’s literally a dream. It would be pretty easy to make it a real, legitimate goal; and maybe writing this post will serve as the impetus I need to start looking at it critically and examine what it would take.

So, what’s your dream job? If you’re doing your dream job, what did it take for you to pull it out of the dream-world and into your real life? Share, internets, share!

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2 Responses to The Job of a Lifetime

  1. Mrs. Chicken says:

    A writing life isn’t easy. But you have the building blocks. Desire and talent. Start small and local. Do you have a free magazine or newspaper? Or also, try a regional parenting magazine. The writing part is easy – it’s the reporting that often stops people.

    Also, Common Ties is a website that pays for personal essays.

    Email me anytime.

  2. fizzledink says:

    Thanks, Mrs. C. I’ll take you up on that.

    I actually took what I consider “a step” today – emailed a good friend from college who has been freelancing and now has a steady magazine job – and picked her brain thoroughly about how she got started. She gave me some good suggestions (and a nice down-to-earth grounding about just how little… and how long in coming a paycheck may be! 😉 ) so I feel like at least now I know where to start doing some research.

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