Working woman

This has nothing to do with my job, but it's a cool photo nonetheless. (Google Images)

So now that I have strung out stories of our vacation for weeks and weeks after our return, how about I tell you what life has been like here at home for the past month?

As I mentioned way back in the beginning of July, 10 hours after we got back from Europe, I started a new job.

Long-time readers might or might not remember when I left my last job nearly five years ago. I’ve been working on freelance projects since then, mostly on a part-time or part-part-time basis. While the flexible schedule has been great for my family, the variable income, however, was not so great.

And the fact is that in two years we’re going to start writing painfully large checks to an as-yet-undetermined university, followed a year later by writing twice as many checks to institutions of higher education. Oof, that’s going to hurt.

Facing the possibility of two daughters in college at the same time, Pete and I agreed it was time for me to start looking for something steadier and more lucrative than part-part-time freelance work. After a great deal of applying and interviewing and not getting any offers, I finally managed to score a long-term temporary position with no fixed end date. I have no idea if it will become a permanent position or not, but for now I am focused on settling in and learning, well, everything.

So July was all about figuring out my new life. I haven’t worked in an office in 10 years and haven’t worked full-time in 17, so the learning curve has been steep, oh so steep.

One thing that moved me almost to tears my first week on the job was the unbelievable kindness of people. Some stopped what they were doing in order to help me figure out something. Others dropped by my desk just to introduce themselves and check on how I was doing. A couple sent regular emails to make sure I had what I needed.

As for my people here in Jenworld, they’ve been total champs throughout all this. We had a number of family conversations in May and June about how this job would change things for all of us. More shared responsibilities among the four of us, less expectation that I will handle anything and everything.

For example, Pete and I carpool to work because I don’t have a parking space. This means I don’t have access to a car during the day. So at the beginning of the summer, I came up with a detailed list of every single thing the girls had going on all summer and emailed it to Pete, who has been working with them to sort out their transportation needs. It’s interesting how everyone’s expectations have changed now that I am no longer available to run people hither and yon — one girl rode the school bus home from summer school, the other girl rode the city bus to and from a day camp, both girls have been more resourceful about carpooling with friends, and so forth.

Cooking, chores, and errands have changed too. While the girls have long had their assigned chores and Pete has always carried a respectable load, the burden has shifted considerably depending on who has more or less time on any given day. For now, and until school starts in a couple of weeks, I leave a short list of chores for the girls to do every day while Pete and I are gone, as well as any dinner prep that might be needed, and they have it all done by the time we walk in at 5:30.

On the weekends, we divide and conquer the chores and errands. Pete does most of the grocery shopping now, although I try to have Grace drive me around for errands on the weekends since she’s still learning to drive and needs to accumulate more time behind the wheel.

Honestly, with Pete driving me to work and Grace driving me around on the weekends, I could probably go weeks without driving. I could totally get used to that lifestyle.

Overall, I am really happy with how things have gone so far. It helps that my girls are in high school and therefore reasonably independent. They’ve been learning how to cook and clean for years, so it’s no big deal (to me, at least) to have them doing more. And Pete has always been a committed, engaged partner, so it’s no surprise that he has stepped up and assumed even more responsibility than he had already.

So that’s what’s  been going on around here. What’s going on in your world?

Share this nice post:
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Working woman

  1. Little Miss Sunshine State says:

    Speaking of teenagers, we left MA Saturday morning with my 14 year old niece and her 15 year old friend. Everyone in the family says my niece is my mini-me. They’re correct!
    We did a LOT of car singing on the 2 day trip to FL.
    Both girls are extremely polite and flexible about our plans for the week.
    It is already obvious who has a Mom that follows her around and picks up after her (not my niece… it’s her friend)

    My Mom went back to work when my sister and I were teenagers and also had two younger brothers. We became very responsible teens by driving the boys to activities, starting dinner every night and keeping the house picked up.
    I’m not surprised that your girls are doing well with your new schedules.

  2. Cassi says:

    Reading this takes me back to my childhood. My mom not only worked full time, but was also working on graduate degrees while I was in middle school and high school. But I had a much younger sibling, who needed a certain amount of babysitting all summer, and wow did I resent that (and having to prep dinners)! Looking back, I can see how much was on my mom’s plate, but at that time it was all about me, of course. :-) However, we were also really poor, so there wasn’t much in the way of fun to go along with all the work.

    I’m glad your transition has been smooth, with both family and strangers making it a bit easier.

  3. Ssheers says:

    Elder daughter has left her internship a week early to study for the GRE. She is cooking dinner & experimenting with cooking other stuff for us. A week from now, she will take the GRE and then fly to Germany to spend most of the semester in Berlin.
    Younger daughter came home from China Saturday, spent Saturday night with her Fab Five BFFs celebrating a birthday, spent most of Sunday flinging her earthly possessions into various piles, and drove down to C’ville in time to start the Jefferson Scholar program last night.
    In a week or so, elder daughter will help me load the minivan with a pile of younger daughter’s stuff, and I will drive to C’ville where younger daughter has assured me that at least one friend will help move her and her stuff into her dorm where she will start RA training.

    I flew to Seattle a week ago where I spent a day driving down to see Mt. St. Helens and then met about 15 email friends, most of whom I had never seen before. We all joined a list serve group in August 1995 of people whose babies were due in April 1996. Now, most of those babies are in college. Fascinating women. We did tourist stuff, ate good food, drank good wine, and talked and talked and talked. One of the moms is a drummer in a rock&troll band. We went to see her show.
    I don’t know if you know my husband has cancer and has been doing chemo for 2.5 years. He had to have a couple of surgeries last spring, but now he’s stable.

  4. Julie says:

    from that very first paragraph detailing how life has changed for you now that you are working full time…I found myself nodding and saying yesssss. I KNOW that this change in your life, and your family’s life is going to do all kinds of good. Your daughters stepping up to the plate and just filling in…that is growing them up in a very mature and responsible way. It forces YOU, Jen, to let go of the reins somewhat, and see where those chips are going to fall. I know you know this. But hearing about it is somewhat thrilling, to me. I did not have the opportunity to have a force change upon me to grow my sons up, but I did my best. I struggled to help them become men that their future women would be excited to be around, and grow a life with. I can now see where I failed. Because they have both been out of the house for 2 years now, and it’s evident where my failings were. The possible places I can see where I did not move my mothering in the right direction cause me some sorrow, but I”ve let it go. My thoughts would boomerang back to my growing up years, where my life was formed in a life of poverty and getting by…and I would mentally justify my actions and my choices. That has to stop, because I have to move forward! I am thrilled to hear how your girls will thrive in the new situation here. And that? is what good storytelling is all about.

  5. Patience says:

    Congratulations on your new job!

  6. Becky says:

    I only wish I could share more errands with my better half! He definitely does what he can during my push weeks, but given his schedule of 60-80 hours a week, most of which is outside of Charlottesville, I am grateful for what I can get. Edie has been helpful this summer, but I know once school starts, that will be a different story with all her commitments and activities. Thankfully, my new bosses are extremely laid back and flexible and my family has been completely understanding about me continuing to pursue my passions part time while working part time. Only once last spring did I drop a ball!
    Congrats on the new job. I temped at Uva when we first came here - it was hands down the absolute worst job I’ve had here. It sounds like the folks in your department are much nicer than the ones in the ones I worked in.

  7. It sounds like you have the best of all kinds going on there in Jenworld.
    When my dh retired 4 years ago, it threw my own life into a whirlpool. I’d been a SAHM for 21 years and I felt like I was no longer needed. I like to say that my youngest son is raising himself, but his dad really has stepped up and become the go-to parent. Two years ago, I fell into the perfect job which I still love (despite the burglary that happened 2 weeks ago).
    It’s funny how kids can find ways to make transportation happen when we aren’t available to drop everything and chauffeur them.

  8. Smalltown Me says:

    Good luck, Jen! I know you will do great with the job. I am about to write one of those massive tuition checks, or rather make a massive on-line payment. Ouch.

  9. bdaiss says:

    So you’re saying I need to quit my day job for, oh, ten years or so, and then go back to work to get other people to pitch in? I think I could deal with that. ;)

    Glad to hear the job is going great!

  10. I’m so pleased it’s working out for you!
    We’re sorting out the transportation logistics here for fall, too. I drive us all in to town for school, but post school? T and B have cross country practice most days, G takes the bus home. I bought a great bike rack so I can bring a bike in on the morning commute and ride it home at the end of my work day, leaving T and B the car at the high school parking lot, T can drive them home after practice. That gets us through ONE season, anyway! Plus I don’t get interrupted mid-dinner-prep with picking people up in town!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>