Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Learning Curve

With every change in life comes a learning curve.  Everyone in my house is experiencing one right now, including the animals (the poor guppy puppy has to stay in the garage all day, and when the kids and I get home each day the cats - and dog - swarm us like we've been gone for years).

Boo is having the easiest time of it, in terms of the human equation.  She adores school and is making some good friends.  One friend in particular she wants to invite to go roller skating one day soon.  I'm pleased.  I'm also home each day before she arrives.

Doodlebug is doing surprisingly well.  His room is a pit (and believe me, this has been a problem since he was little, but at this point, Mama is about to completely lose it… I'm going to discuss this little entitlement issue we're having in another post soon), but in school he's supposedly doing okay.  I'm hoping that he's not just blowing smoke up my hind end when he comes home each day and announces that he has very little to no homework.  I guess we'll find out when the grades come out, but while I don't expect a ton of homework, I have expected more than he has.  Fingers crossed.  He does get bored each afternoon and attributes it to being home solo for a little while, which I suspect isn't quite the case as I think he would be bored regardless of whether or not an adult was present (sometimes Oz is home, and he's still bored), and he doesn't really like being up early early early each morning, but he's doing okay.

Oz is adjusting, too.  He's been supportive and helpful, taking kids to appointments and giving me foot rubs on those first few days when walking 8-10 miles a day was particularly hard on my system (don't get me wrong… it still ain't easy, but I'm adjusting).  He hasn't yet realized that me working also means he needs to actually clean something around the house since I'm not here all day to do it, but one step at a time.  He is at least helping with dinner on occasion and will sometimes do a load of laundry if I need him to.

And then there's me.  Going back to work has been good.  The learning curve there has been far steeper than the adjustment period from a home standpoint.  I've gotten quite good already (if I do say so myself) at doing the first job they had me learn, walking patients back to rooms.  At this point the clinicians like and are familiar with me, and I'm starting to memorize the doctors' schedules.  I certainly can tell you their locations in the clinic on any given day!  I can schedule appointments with relative ease, and I'm starting to learn some of the basics.  Now I just need to get up to the front desk for a full few days in a row and really tackle the system.  It'll be tough, especially since I'll be dealing with patients who are either ready to stop standing or ready to be out of the office, but thankfully most patients are patient.  Most.  I'm sure there will always be a few who aren't.  And I'll handle that, too.  I'm definitely ready for something new and for the new to become familiar.

I think we all are.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Giving Up and Getting Real

It's interesting to me how people sometimes seem to change when really, maybe, some things have been a faƧade all along.

Shit's about to get real here.  Hang onto your asses. ;)


I never planned to get married.  I never planned to have kids.  Do I regret doing either one of those things?  Of course I don't.  But when I DID get married and I DID have kids, I was so young.  I was 18 (married), 20 (Doodlebug), 22 (Boo).  I had these ideals and mental pictures of what wifehood and motherhood were 'supposed' to be that I completely buried who and what I actually AM.

When Boo asked to return to public school and when I decided to send Doodlebug as well, a lot of those old feelings bubbled up to the surface, and I realized that for so very, very long, I had been wearing a mask.  Homeschooling the kids was definitely something that needed to happen, particularly for Doodlebug, but with that gone, I felt both free and trapped.

I was free to be who I was… but who was that... and could I still be that person and do what else needed to be done… i.e. could I still do what I was 'supposed' to do?

That one question, with all its multiple parts, sent me into a tailspin and, I suspect, triggered the depression that I battled for months.  It was ugly with a depth that I haven't seen since I was 14 and 15 years old.  I shared some of that battle with you all, and I'm very glad that it's over.  I'm sure it'll come back at some point, but I still have a very solid group of friends who have my back, and I'm grateful for them always.

As I began to question everything, I dug deep.  Very deep.  And I realized that in order to really be happy - truly, unmistakably HAPPY - some very big things were going to have to change.  I realized that I needed to stop apologizing for a lot of things, to begin with.  I've spent years feeling bad for being the person that I am at my core.  And guess what?  The minute I started letting SOME of my feelings out, they ALL came out.

I knew I wanted a job - I had always intended to be a career woman, and while I may not be able to accomplish the same goals that I had when I was young, I can still have a career.  I'm young enough for that.  I knew I wanted to give up some things - gardening, keeping a pristine house (that happened out of boredom before I had kids, and I won't have time to be bored now), and otherwise keeping up with the Susie Homemaker Joneses.  I'm getting rid of my canning equipment, because as much as everyone in the house loves my peach preserves and I did have fun doing it a couple of times, it's exhausting and it's the middle of summer and I like air conditioning more than slaving over a boiling pot!  If I'm still in this house next spring (long story, just go with it… I'm keeping the details out of public arenas, thanks), I intend for some of my income to pay for a lawn service, and they can take care of the garden areas.  I can apparently grow roses by sticking them into the ground and ignoring them altogether, but everything else?  Not so much.  As much as I love the idea of having a gorgeous garden with tons of healing and cooking herbs, I'll never have the enthusiasm to maintain it year-round.  I might grow some things in containers, but even that will be subject to my whims and caprices.

I digress… as I do.

I also realized that I love some things and will continue doing them… on my own terms.  I still like cooking, for example, and want to do that when I have time.  I love love love having people over and going out with my friends.  I even like going to the gym (also when I have time).  I still love reading, and I'll never give that up.

But defining who I am and what I want to do (and not do) means that everyone around me has to get used to this 'new' me… and, of course, sometimes that comes easily and sometimes it doesn't.  I know some people believe that I've lost my mind and gone absolutely crazy.  Other folks have thoroughly embraced my need to come out of my cocoon.  It's been hardest on Oz, for many reasons.

A few days ago, I finally got angry.  Oz was out of town, but he still bore the brunt of it.  I defined exactly what needed to happen over the next few months while I finish my transformation, and I informed him that if he couldn't handle it to let me know.  It might be harsh, but I feel like I've compromised for too many years, and I don't want to do that any more.

So we shall see.  The kids are still happy - I haven't changed much as far as their care and well-being are concerned - and one day at a time, I am becoming happier, too.  The final steps are within reach; we'll see what they are.  It's definitely an exciting adventure, and it's one I'm glad to finally be taking on my own behalf.  It's long, long overdue.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The First Day

I didn't want to post anything until now.  I was so afraid I might jinx something, especially after all that has happened previously.

I started a job today.  I actually went to work and showed up and they knew I was coming and I AM EMPLOYED.

Last Friday I had two interviews.  One was for a temporary position; the other was a temp-to-hire job.  Even though I wasn't as interested in the temporary position (not only because it was only temporary but also because it was in a field I'm less interested in), I wanted to go to both of the interviews because they were just that - interviews.  A shot at a job, not a guarantee.

Both interviews went well.  They went so well, in fact, that I wound up getting offered both positions. 

Obviously I chose the temp-to-hire one, which is at a local orthopedic clinic.  So today was my first day at work... the first time I've had a full-time gig since 2002. 

I think I did okay.  I tried to pick up as much as I could, which wasn't much but hopefully will be soon, and just kept going... and going... and going.  They hadn't warned me I was going to be spending the day walking, so while I did wear flats, my back is sore now.  My feet are, too, but not as much as my back.  I'll try to take some time to crawl in the tub this evening, but barring that, I'll pop some Aleve and keep going.

It's a little weird getting back into the working world, but so far so good!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Long Day

Today I have been to Kansas and back.  My father called on Tuesday morning to tell me that my grandfather - his father - had suffered a stroke and passed away in the wee hours before dawn.  So I've lost two grandparents this year.  My dad's mom is the only grandparent still living.  But I digress.  I was just glad to be able to be at the funeral today; in a way it's a consolation for not yet being able to find a job.

We all rode up together, my dad and my stepmother and my sister and I.  He picked me up around 7:15 this morning, and we arrived in his (my) hometown a little after 9 a.m.  It may be in another state, but it isn't that far away time-wise.  It was a pleasant drive up, and when we got into town we immediately located two of his sisters and some of my cousins (and some of their spouses/kids) so we could travel together out to the cemetery for the graveside service.  We were early, but there were already plenty of people there, and more trickled steadily in.  By the time we were herded over to the tent, I would say there were 100-125 people in attendance, mostly family but a good number of people from town as well, and I don't quite think the officiant knew what he was in for.  After the officiant read the obituary and a couple of Bible verses, my Uncle Steve (I have two Uncle Steves, but this is the one I'm biologically related to) stood up and said a few words in his role as self-proclaimed family spokesman. And even in the midst of telling serious stories, the brothers and sisters (see pic)...

My dad and his 11 siblings

… couldn't resist taking the odd shot at one another or sharing even more tidbits.  Laughter at a funeral - who knew?  To be honest, I think my grandfather would have approved.  He didn't believe in dwelling on things.  If there was something to be done, you got up and did it.  His work ethic was one of the things that got passed on to his kids… and subsequently, most of his grandkids as well.  If I do say so myself, we're a fairly successful bunch.

After the service ended at the graveside, nobody hurried away sad and forlorn.  We stayed and talked, despite the heat (we were all grateful for a breeze), and then we all headed to one of the local churches for lunch.  It was LOUD with all of us in there, but it was a good sort of loud.  There was talking and laughter and hugging and yes, sometimes tears, but mostly it was just a good sort of get-together with lots of catching up.

I'm back home now.  The drive back home was nearly as good as the drive up (my sister and I were happily be-bopping and singing along to various 60s tunes in the back seat), and while I would absolutely love nothing more than to stay on this couch with my feet up, I can't.  Doodlebug is resting in his room, and Boo will be home soon.  I'll fix them some dinner, and then Doodlebug and I are going to attend the OneRepublic concert tonight.  I really don't want to go because I'm so tired, but I've made a commitment.  No sense dwelling on things.  There's something to be done, so I'll get up and do it!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The First Couple Days

So the children went to school on Thursday… and Friday, but of course I was far more nervous on Thursday.  What if they got on the wrong bus or missed their stops coming home?  What if Boo had an anxiety attack in the middle of the day?  What if Doodlebug was late to class or couldn't get his locker open or …

What if, what if, what if.

I took both kids to school in the morning and discovered that the schools really didn't work together particularly well on the timing, because Doodlebug has to be at school nearly an hour before Boo, and Boo isn't quite old enough to be on her own at the house yet, so she has to climb in the car and ride with us to drop Doodlebug off, come home and hang out for 45 minutes, then get back in the car and be taken to her school.  Really annoying.

Anyway, I took both kids to school on the first day.  Doodlebug needed a locker that worked, so we went to the office to get that sorted out (and it still took two more lockers to find him one that worked… the boy was jinxed, I swear) before I abandoned him to his fate.  He came home later in the day and said he'd had a good day and enjoys his classes.  His favorite teacher is his homeroom teacher who teaches English, which didn't surprise me very much.  When I met all of them on back-to-school night, I suspected that would be the outcome.  He has a little homework this weekend but mostly it's all for extra credit - I'm sure the real work will start this week.  I just hope he can remember to write his name on all his papers.  I worked on this all last year at home, but it didn't ever really stick.  Now that it matters, it will be a much bigger deal.

Boo also had a good first day.  She claims she's the smartest kid in her class, which she may be, and she really likes her teacher as well as some of the other teachers they rotate to for various subjects.  She came home on Friday and announced that she won't have homework if she gets all her work done in class and/or doesn't get in trouble, so that was nice news for me.  I remember having a little bit of homework in fourth grade but not much, so I'm glad to see that her teacher has a similar philosophy about kids being kids.

Both of them caught the bus home.  Doodlebug sat near the front, as instructed, and I was relieved to hear that our stop is the very first one on the route - he won't have time to get into much trouble, and sitting at the front is easier when you're the first one off the bus!  Boo, however, is the very last stop on her route, which I don't like because she gets home so very late, but it is what it is.  She'll make bus friends, I'm sure.

All in all, they've had good experiences so far.  Nobody's made any hard and fast new best friends yet, but that will come with time.  I'm starting to hear a couple of names from Boo, and Doodlebug has yet to find his tribe, but he will.

I'm just glad nobody got in trouble and things are starting to fall into place.  Routine will come.  It's all still bittersweet, but it is the way it shall be.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The School Year

So the school year starts for my kids later this week.  Last week the fun started, of course, when I took the kids shopping for school supplies (Doodlebug will need more next week after his teachers send home lists for individual classes) and when I picked up Doodlebug's schedule from the middle school.

That was fun.


As you may or may not recall, I spent quite a bit of time earlier in the year working with the school system to ensure that Doodlebug would have proper classes and interventions in place by the time he set foot into the school this fall.  We had a final meeting the last week of the 2013-2014 school year to finalize everything and to make sure that everyone was on the same page.  I remembered feeling hesitant around the school counselor's level of commitment, but there was little I could do... until I picked up the schedule last week and saw that there was nary a single pre-AP class on it.

Not.  Freaking.  Acceptable.

Thankfully the same counselor was the one who handed me the schedule, and so I very kindly but firmly reminded him of our handy-dandy little meeting, and he asked me to fill out a schedule change request slip and said he'd see what he could do and we could pick up a new schedule on the first day of school.  Not feeling particularly confident, I came home and shot the psychologist an e-mail to give him a heads-up on the situation.  He replied back and said it wasn't usually inside his purview to check into class schedules but he'd see what he could do as well.

It is with great pleasure that I can say that tonight, when we went to meet the teachers (which Doodlebug was walking into without knowing a schedule, which was driving me batty since I know he needs to know where to go BEFORE the first day), a new schedule was waiting.  I've not breathed such a sigh of relief in a long time.  We were able to walk Doodlebug's schedule, meet his teachers and see the classrooms, and get contact information for the teachers so I could send them e-mails about the 504 plan and provide my contact information, just in case.  He also scored a better elective class for him, too, I think - technology instead of art.

Of course, his locker didn't work, but there's always a hitch... and I'd rather the hitch be about a locker than an entire schedule.

We met Boo's teacher tonight, too, and I think her class will be a good one.  This teacher has a master's degree, but this is probably her second year teaching.  So we'll see, but I'm optimistic.  Thankfully Boo is a lot more flexible in how things work.

So school starts soon.  It will be weird having the kids out of the house all day, but I think it will be a good experience all around.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Swear… Job Drama is the WORST

And yet again, I'm not employed.

This time it isn't MY fault, though.

I was supposed to start tomorrow for my new happy position, yeah?  Yeah, so I'm standing at the cash register at the grocery store today and my phone rings, and I look at it and it says it's from the company that I was supposed to start working for, so I answer it.

And it's the bossman/owner, who says (and I paraphrase), "Um, we've decided not to fill the position right now, but we'll keep your resume on file in case we decide to take another look at it sometime."

The man is lucky I was standing in a public place.

Suffice it to say they could pay me in winning lotto tickets and I wouldn't work for them at this point.

Back to hunting!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Another Job Update

I'm sure you're all tired of hearing it, BUT... I have a job.  A real one that I will start later this week and which has caused me to stop looking for anything further, at least for now.

It started with a Craigslist ad.  It asked the respondents to apply in person, so when I was running around last week on the day that turned into absolute chaos, it was my first stop.  I left my application and hoped to hear something eventually maybe, but I wasn't very optimistic.

This morning I had an interview scheduled with a recruiter, but shortly before I left the house, I got a call.  The Craigslist company wanted me to come in for an interview.  I told them I already had one scheduled but that I'd be happy to come by at some point afterward, thinking that they'd set an exact time, but instead I was told, "Well, when you're done, just give us a call and come on up."

Well, all righty then.

So I did just that.  I talked to the bossman/owner.  I talked to the other woman I'd be working with.  I talked to the bossman/owner again.  And I start Thursday.

This job doesn't kill my soul.  I'll be making and tracking and checking in orders.  I'll be filing and answering phones.  I'll be doing inventory and helping customers and replying to e-mails.

Is it a perfect job?  Well, no, probably not.  But for someone who's been out of the job business for about 3.5 years… it's a very nice start.  I just hope I can hack it.

Did I mention I get to wear jeans?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Aaaaand no

So I didn't wind up taking the job.  When I went to talk to the recruiter this morning to confirm my employment eligibility, I mentioned that I had still spent yesterday evening filling out application after application for various jobs that I found online.  And really… that means I'm not comfortable accepting the position.  She was okay with it.  She understood.  I don't want to start a job that I intend to quit as soon as I can find something else.  It's not fair to the employer, and it's not fair to the recruiter, and it's not fair to me.

I'm okay with it.  I'm sure if I don't find something else in the next week or so I'll regret that decision and wish I'd taken it just to get job history on record, but for now… I'm still unemployed.

And so I don't have to scramble for childcare.

Which makes me happy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

On Finding a Job

So I had the interview with the school.  It went as interviews went, and I got the call later in the day that I didn't make the cut and they had gone with someone else.  That was fine.  So I got on the computer and started hunting down options.  I knew that at some point I was probably going to have to look at temp agencies, but I had been hoping to find something independently before that point.

Yeah, that clearly hasn't happened.

I climbed in the car this morning with the following agenda:  Apply in person at one office, then hit up a couple of different temp agencies, drop Doodlebug's library books at the library, maybe get myself some lunch, and come home.  Oz took Boo to optometry appointments for them both, and then he was coming back to the house to keep an eye on things.

Things did not go as planned.

I started at the first office after getting stuck in traffic because someone with a trailer hadn't secured his load properly.  I filled out the application, talked briefly to the owner, and left.  All well and good.  I drove to the first temp agency only to be told that they only accept resumes online and to fill one out and someone would be in touch.  I called the second temp agency before driving across town to learn the same thing.  Frustrated, I turned to a third temp agency that wasn't even on my original list and called to make sure they accepted resumes in person.  They did.  I got there and started talking to the recruiter, and at some point I mentioned that I typed quickly.  She said she had a 'data entry' position available and thought I would be a good fit.  Fine by me.  I filled out some online forms on a computer at their office, and then she had me take a data entry test, which I passed so well and so quickly she thought I'd actually messed up and would have to redo the test because nobody had ever finished that fast before.  Go me.  I left and went to lunch, and the recruiter called me while I was eating to say that I had an interview at 1:30 if I was interested.  Well, why not?  So I went to an interview.

The job itself is not particularly thrilling.  It's a mailroom job, printing and sorting and mailing various forms and letters, and the other folks working in the department are very young 20-somethings with whom I will have absolutely nothing in common… but it's a job.  Like everyone keeps reminding me, I have to start somewhere.  And I'm not going to stop looking for something better.  Even the woman who interviewed me acknowledged that I won't stay there forever, that I need to be put into bigger and better things, but that my resume simply doesn't accommodate that right now.  It's frustrating but it's the truth.

Anyway, I start the job in a couple of days.  I'm scrambling to find childcare right now, because I won't leave Doodlebug and Boo home by themselves all day every day until school starts… and I'll need to work out before- and aftercare for them when school does start… and I feel completely overwhelmed by everything that has happened today… but I have a job.

I didn't expect that when I left the house this morning.  It's been a long day.