Things to Do - Fail

(The pics are from St. Patty's Day (i.e. Snow Day #9)).

Random fact - late last fall, a real estate photographer hired me to work part-time. Awesome, right? We planned on training over the winter, so I could star shooting on my own when the spring real estate market became busy. My new employer knew I had a limited schedule and said we could work around my current commitments. It seemed, in many ways, like the perfect part time job.

Then came the winter - Arlington county canceled school for a total of nine days due to various snowstorms, which, at first, didn't seem like a huge deal as the snow caused most of the city to shutdown. But the kids also missed school because of teacher workdays and random "early release" Wednesdays (can anyone explain the point of an early release day to me?). It's one thing to explain you can't work because of a snow storm, it's another thing to say, "well, actually I can't work two days after the snow storm because that's also a day off." Or to explain that school is still canceled or delayed the day after said snowstorm despite the clear roads and sidewalks.

Basically, even though my new boss was willing to work with "my schedule", this winter I didn't really have a schedule, the pattern of our days became random at best.

Needless to say, the job didn't work out. I don't think my almost-boss (a mom herself) harbors any hard feelings and maybe in the future she will let me try again, but for now - it's a wash.

When I tell this story to people, everything becomes uncomfortable. Some people offer advice "Don't you have friends that could have helped?" [yes, but barely any of them will take all three kids, plus the job required flexibility and last minute scheduling, so I couldn't plan ahead]."Have you considered a nanny?" [the pay would have just covered the nanny's salary, leaving me with almost no net income]. P overheard one of these conversations and afterwards said, "so mom, you sort of failed, right?"

And I guess I did fail. I know a lot of super-moms would have made the situation work for them. I also know that I could have tried harder. I could have traded in more favors, begged more friends for assistance, hired paid help (even if such help came at an economic loss). But then again, I spent this winter with my kids - we sledded and watched movies and did art projects and played boardgames. Often on snow days our house filled with 6 or 7 children full of stories, dance parties, science experiments, paintings, and superheros. I hosted happy hours for our neighborhood friends. I blogged, took classes online, and had a decent amount of paid freelance photography work - I filled my days.

Of course, not all of these moments were wonderful. There were times I craved structure and felt overwhelmed by it all (do you have any idea how much food 7 children can eat?). I know I failed, but yet, I'm not sure how I would have anything differently. This is T's last year of preschool and right now spending time with him is my top priority, as cheesy as that sounds. Occasional babysitters aside, I don't want to hire someone to watch him for me, not yet. Eventually maybe, but not quite yet.

I never planned on being a stay-at-home mom, as I've written about previously. And I think there's so much guilt involved still. When I told people I had a job, it just felt so good to have people look at me like "wow, you've really done something with yourself", like I was in the club now, I mattered, I contributed, I was FINALLY a functioning part of society. Maybe it was in my head, but I still think it was real - they did, they looked at me like I was, well, functional.

And when I tell people I failed, the conversation becomes so awkward. I'm not exactly type A, but I've never gotten a grade less than a B in any class ever, I cried when I wasn't valedictorian of my high school (for WEEKS), I graduated from a top law school with honors - not that any of this matters IN THE SLIGHTEST, but, basically, I've never really failed in a work context before.

And yet, I had a good winter. I spent time with my kids.

When I look at the future, it seems like such a black hole - I know one day I need to work, I know my kids one day will move on - that their lives will stop circling around me, that I will become peripheral. The days are long but the years are short, and all the other various cliches. But, for now, I think (crazily) I'm okay with failing. I really think I am. Or maybe I'm just scared of missing a snowball fight.

1 comment:

  1. If you're happy - and it sounds like you are - then I'd say you've succeeded. :)



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