Walking the Tightrope

I am officially looking for a part-time job. It has been almost a year since I made the decision to leave my old employer, and 8 months since I actually stopped working full time.

As with all things, it seems to be about balance. I had a brief bout of unemployment after we brought my youngest home from the hospital. I thought I would be a better mom if I were home. What I learned is that I am a better mom when I have meaningful work and a break from home on a regular basis.

I had several part-time jobs that led up to me being full time again about 6 years ago. My kids were in school, and the opportunity was there so I jumped on it. That job led to another, which led to another, which led to me traveling at least three days a week across the state.

As much as I loved the work I was doing, it was next to impossible to manage. My husband also has a demanding job that requires fairly frequent travel. It became increasingly obvious through a series of missed homework assignments, forgotten backpacks, and complicated child-care schedules that something had to give.

So I left my full time contract and added some consulting, and a dream of home decorating. And I learned again: that it takes more time and energy to start something from the ground up than to work full time. And you don’t get paid.

And here I am again, trying to figure out how to swing the pendulum somewhat closer to center.

It is the constant struggle that we all face when trying to be good parents, good employees, and good to ourselves. I am blessed in that my husband can support our family. He has kept the roof over our heads and dinner on the table while I try to figure out what is next. It is a luxury that I am grateful for (almost) every day.

The last 8 months have not been wasted. I have figured out that I need a fair amount of independence in my work, that I love the arts, and that I am very capable of moving my focus between projects with little disruption.

I have also figured out that given too much time, I can very easily get lost in my own head. Reflection can spiral into melancholy, obsession, and depression. If my mind and hands aren’t busy, my thoughts take over and it isn’t always pretty.

This week, I begin my job search. I am not in a hurry, and I still would like the freedom to consult and work on home decor. I just need a little more distraction, a little more regularity, and a little less travel.

I’d love to hear your stories about walking the tightrope between work and family. And if you know of a great job out there…

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