Sunday, November 18, 2007

Where Did the Time Go?

One of the more ironic aspects of writing this blog is that sometimes, I don't have time to write it, particularly if I want to spend time with my family. So, if you see long gaps, that's why - that, plus my innate tendency to like TV and surfing the Internet.

My hope is that I'll be more disciplined and a more faithful blogger once my Tidbit starts school - but that's still nearly a year away.

The realization that she's headed to school - and won't need me at home full time - is sending me into an identity tail spin. I simply can't decide what happens next. Among the ideas bouncing through my head:
  • Have another baby. I've always planned for two, but for a lot of reasons, that didn't happen and it's a really hard choice for me. Pregnancy just about kills me. And yet...
  • Go back to school or work full- or part-time.
  • Take a year off and get in better shape.
  • Really dig in and work hard at my freelance career. (Complicated, since she won't be in school year round and clients aren't likely to understand I need summers off!)
  • Try to start a new and different business that the whole family could participate in.
  • Try to launch a mega successful blog and/or write the next Harry Potter.
  • Keep going like I'm going now, same part-time freelance work, and just accept there are some things in life we'll never afford - such as retirement.
Right now, I spend a lot of time debating the merits of becoming a teacher versus continuing as a freelance writer. I'm even exploring getting a masters in teaching.

I've been reading "101 Secrets of Happy Families" off and on - it's one of those books you can read that way, since it's really more a series of short essays than a book. Anyway, one of the items is that Happy Families determine what they should do - not what they want to do. In other words, you stop focusing on your wants and on what needs to be done, what should be done, to further the family. This has been somewhat helpful. After all, I should do something that brings in money, adds to our future financial security and lets me still be home with my child as much as possible. So, when you look at it that way, I should be a teacher, since then my schedule and my daughter's schedule would be the same and I'd have a regular paycheck and retirement and even my own health insurance. Plus, I think I might actually like it.

(Go ahead - post about how teaching is a calling. But I know people who teach and didn't feel called. And they're good teachers. Great teachers, even. So, you may feel it's a calling, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to. Yes, yes: I realize it's not just days with kids and summers off - I know there's a lot of work involved, including long nights of homework and prep, so just back off people! I've got an eraser and I'm not afraid to use it!)

But then again, the book says happy families support each other in achieving their full potential. And for me, I've always dreamed of being a writer. Not the kind of writer I'm being now, I'll grant you. But nonetheless, a writer. While I could be a teacher - and really enjoy it and work hard to do it well - it's not my dream.

If only my dream job came with full retirement, full salary, the ability to write what I really want and summers off: Then we'd be talking. Instead, I'm pretty much a freelance writer just to be called that. I don't really write about anything I care about. Sad, huh? I just write to pay the bills - the writer's equivalent of taking in laundry.

And then there's this question: Which is a better role model for my daughter? Should I pursue my dream or be a responsible adult and get a real job that helps my family. After all, her father has to work at a 8-5, 40-hour a week job that's less than his dream. True, he wanted to do what he does, but I'm sure he'd love to be working from home in his pajamas, spending summers with her, too. Where do I get off thinking I'm entitled to such liberty? And do I really want to raise her with these kinds of expectations?

I am working. And I'm pretty happy with my salary - though full-time work would be better and allow us to buy lots of opportunities. Not stuff - I don't want just stuff, like huge TVs or expensive cars.

But, for instance, we want to camp as a family. I feel camping is a fantastic way to teach our environmental values to our child and bond as a family. It's also something my extended family does together. But this year, I aged out of tent camping. I just can't do it anymore. I ache too much - and we've tried everything. Plus, my daughter hated it.

So, to camp, we're going to need some form of camper and a different vehicle for toying. Right now, that means we're just not going camping because we don't have the funds for all that. And I'm not sure when we will, as long as I'm freelancing.

Freelance writing worked while my daughter was young. But long-term, I'm not sure what I do now is the best bet for me or my family.

Wow. Talk about a tangent. Not my usual type of post. But there you have it: Do you follow a career that's your calling or choose a career that most helps you further your family's goals and lifestyle?

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