Just when I think I've settled some part of myself I'm tested again. I'm learning to say no. I'm learning to cherish what is important. All summer long I've looked forward to having mornings at home to myself so I can really dive in to working on my book again. Monday morning after dropping the girls off at school I rushed home and within five minutes of popping open my laptop the old rush of passion and excitement came back. This is my project! This is what I've thought about doing for a decade or more and I am really going to do it! I am so happy to be working on this book.
I made some pretty good progress in just a few hours, had lunch and headed off to work a few hours at the job where I actually get paid. This year I decided since both girls would be in school all day, it might be nice to have a low-key job where I could make a little money, get back into the workforce and have some superficial, pleasant social contact with other adults. Lo and behold, I was offered a job at the front desk of the school my girls attend. Three hours a day, five days a week, filing, giving families tours, maintaining the website, writing the monthly newsletter. All things I am perfectly capable of doing. The job came with a paycheck and a tuition discount (yahoo!) and I love it. It is fun and laid back and I never bring any work home with me. Who could ask for more? Man, I'm lucky!
Monday evening the phone rang. Right in the middle of Prison Break. I don't like talking on the phone as a general rule and, since some genius invented caller-id, it's rare that I actually answer the phone unless I'm expecting a call. But during the season premiere of Prison Break? Dream on, caller! Except that my husband got up and answered it. And it happened to be for me. And I should have known right then that there was something strange afoot because he hates the phone, too, and he didn't recognize the name on the caller-id but he answered the phone anyway.
Tailspin! It was the CFO of a company I used to have dealings with before I had my children and he was referred to me by a very close friend of mine with whom I used to work. He is in need of someone with medical and technical knowledge who will create and maintain a database for his company. Because I know the business and I have done this kind of work before, he thinks I would be perfect. He's willing to bend over backwards for me and let me work from home because it's a part-time job. I'm instantly sucked in. How flattering! He's right; I would be perfect for this position. What the hell am I thinking? I have a part time job already. He's a few months too late. He's wondering whether he can send me the job description via email and maybe we can get together this weekend when he will be up in my area. Of course he can! There's no harm looking at it, right?
Hanging up the phone, I turn to my husband and fill him in on the details. He's proud of me. Wow - after all these years of being a stay-at-home mom, out of the workforce, my reputation is still good enough to get me job offers. Pretty cool! Crap! You're like a dog with a peanut butter treat. Flattery and praise is all you need to compromise your own free time, isn't it? Yup.
Tuesday morning I forward the job description to S., hoping he'll help me craft some insightful questions about the position so I can get an accurate idea of just how much work I'm getting myself into. He comes through with flying colors. I email the questions to the CFO and start to figure out when I'll fit the work in during the week. The kids are in school from 9-3 - that's a ton of time, right? There ought to be plenty of time for me to do this job. And it will bring in even more money and maintain those contacts in the biz. No matter that this 'biz' is something I voluntarily left ten years ago and it's not exactly my life's passion.
Wednesday morning I can barely drive the girls to school my stomach hurts so much. I'm exhausted despite logging eight hours between the sheets and suck down a cup of coffee to get going. As soon as the girls are out of the car and in their classrooms, I hightail it home and crawl onto the couch. Ugh! What did I eat? You mean, what are you thinking? Don't tell me you don't recognize this particular brand of stomach ache - you've had it before when you tried to cram too many other things into your life in order to feed your need to be needed. Oh. Yeah.
I spent the next hour on the phone with my mother and a good friend who gave me just the ice-cold bucket of water over my head that I needed. It's nice to be wanted and sometimes, even nicer to be needed, but my plate is too full. Filling my time with 'productive' and 'paying' work is honorable, but filling it with things I'm passionate about that replenish my energy and focus are far more important. How many more tests until I've learned to recognize this on my own? I don't know. But until then, thank goodness for friends who are willing to put it in perspective for me.