The Final Countdown


What do you do when you are the breadwinner/benefits provider and you have 6 months to find a new job, but no idea what you want to do with your life?

No, really–I’m asking.

It’s been 18 months since I left my 18-year job in the dust. When I’m feeling scared about the future, I often try to take myself back to that day when I was leaving the parking structure for the last time. I felt free. I felt like the world was mine. Opportunity was there for the taking. Goodbye safety net, but hello happiness.

I went back to school, and spent a year (so far) totally immersed in studying and enjoying the classes. I volunteered to be room parent for my daughter’s class. For a year, we haven’t had to worry about who will take Charlotte to an appointment, or who will stay home when she’s sick. We’ve only had one schedule to consider about when we plan trips.

I love this life more than I ever imagined I would, and the thought of heading back into the patriarchal world of corporate America makes me physically ill. I can’t do it. I won’t do it.

Except that’s total bull because of course I’ll do it if I have to. I would never sacrifice the security of my family for my own benefit. It would negate the perceived benefit. We need my income. There is no way around that short of winning the lottery or inheriting a lot of money from a relative I never knew I had. What do you mean I had a great aunt Matilda who passed away and left me her sprawling farm and 19th century country home in Vermont?

So here I sit. There are a lot of things I love doing–and not a single one of those things will pay enough to cover our mortgage and preschool. There are a few things that I hate doing, but I’m pretty decent at. Those things require my butt in a chair in some concrete business complex where I work to help men in suits earn their bonuses and sacrifice every bit of flexibility I have now for the sake of a paycheck.

Doesn’t it seem like there should be some middle ground? There has to be, right? I mean, I could take a modest pay cut. Nothing dramatic, but we could manage with a bit less. Would the expectation of less money offer me more flexibility in my work schedule? Why should I have to expect to make less money simply because I’m the parent of a small child?

I don’t have all of the answers right now. Hell, I don’t know if I have any of the answers right now. I just know I need to pick a path, start walking, and hope I read the map correctly.


3 thoughts on “The Final Countdown

  1. Do not wish to invade your privacy. Assume you went back to school for some degree in something you like. I suggest you talk to professors AND career department about how and what your degree will allow you to do that pays real money/benefits. Ask how to get internship now, job leads for 6 months from now.
    Another shorter term option would be becoming home day care provider for infants. Depending on your area that can provide income but no benefits; it would not allow for much flexibility either. NOTE: YOU DO HAVE BE TOTALLY HONEST with parents up front about how long you would be doing this from your home!!! No fakery involved, but faking doesn’t sound like you. I only mention so no one misunderstands this idea! Most parents of infants needing care will want stability for their child just as you did.
    Good wishes!!!

  2. Lecturing in what you have industry experience in? Exam marking/assessments (small income, not regular though).
    Otherwise sales in whatever you have experience in (be it an IT system, a product, a service etc). They normally have flexibility built in, although it cuts both ways- you can take your kid to the Drs on Wednesday, but you’ll be at a conference on the Saturday…
    Good luck with your quest – if you find a job that pays well and offers flexibility, let me know…

  3. after walking away from my job in a similar fashion to you, I swore I’d leave my professional industry. But, when push came to shove I’m still doing the same thing.
    But I’m doing it on my terms, and that’s what makes the difference to me. Starting my own consulting firm was scary, but it has been the best thing I’ve ever done in terms of giving me the flexibility I want with a child and making a professional salary which allows me and my family to have the lifestyle we want.
    I’m not sure if it’s possible to do contract work in your past or future industry, but it may be worth considering?

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