Job Change After Baby
“When you feel so mad that you want to rawr, take a deep breath and count to four…”
This Danielle Tiger jingle is on loop in my brain as I’m driving across town for a job interview. I’m not mad; and I’m not wanting to rawr. But I was up a good chunk of the night with a teething child who could only be soothed by that singing toddler-tiger, and I’m in need of some coffee. Always coffee these days.
I’m wearing a head wrap because I subconsciously think I’m trying to remind myself to be myself and somehow this does that. Interviews make me so freaking nervous when I’ve had sleep. I feel the need to start these conversation with a disclaimer that says “Pardon me, I’m a new(ish) mom,” but also, “My ability to only access half of my brain and even less of my energy some days will in no way affect my work ethic.” I feel compelled to show them this picture of me carrying all the things, in an effort to say “I’m capable” and “you may want to know what season of life I’m in…”
I’m sure it never gets easier to change jobs. The agonizing discernment. The risk-saturated decision. The sheepish announcement. The waiting. The hunting. Having to muster up all fibers of confidence in your being to either create a resume far more cocky than your personality or to sell yourself, your wit, and your problem-solving capabilities at every interview. The acceptance. The fresh beginnings. The set-backs in vacation time, job description know-how, and schedule norms. The trust that things will level out again, as they have before.
No, surely it never gets easier to change jobs.
I can currently be found right in the middle of this process, lost as a goose and cleaving to my old John Wayne poster that says courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway. Yeehaw (*closes eyes while saying “tell me when it’s over”). On many levels this feels familiar, and on many, it is new—different than the two other times I have taken part in this post-college song and dance (which, by the way, is close to the grand total of times my retired family members also took part in the same throughout their entire career…oh times, they are a’changin).
Maybe it’s because 28 feels a good bit different than 21. Maybe it’s because I am a mom now. Maybe it’s because I’m in that millennial generation that everyone is trying to dissect and understand. Whatever the case or combination, I have compiled a list of what feels unlike other years this time around, and what doesn’t.
Hello Old Friend: familiarities about changing jobs…
1. There’s this sense of starting over and/or re-creating yourself that comes with new employment, coworkers, and atmosphere that cannot be denied. Like that time you went away for summer camp or moved into your freshman dorm and quickly realized that you could totally start wearing skater shoes and go by the name “Mickey” and no one would know that this has never been you before. Similar to New Years, resolutions come with job changes—what boundaries you will stick to from the beginning and what areas of your life you would like to make better.
2. All that identity work that gets put on the back burner when you throw yourself into a certain job gets brought all the way up front and center when you are slaving over your resume. Like the lady in the office who is continually needing your help to understand her iphone, you start expecting your existential crisis to pop its head around the corner every three days or so…knocking on your door, smiling ever so confusedly. Who am I, even? What do I…do? I expected this, and here it is.
3. You begin to see some of the value in the discomfort that this hullabaloo brings, getting you out of your comfort zones in ways from which you swore age would exempt you. And just when you think that you are done with the days of escaping to the bathroom of a church to give your 15yr old sweaty self a mirror-pep talk before the gross youth group ice-breaker games commence…here you are, heading off to a panel interview, getting to the parking lot 7 minutes early just so you can center your thoughts. It’s good to grow, you remember. And at least it’s not licking peanut butter out of someone’s armpit.
Oh, this is new: what feels different about changing jobs now…
1. All of a sudden, as if OUT OF NO WHERE, I am faced with this newfound, self-appointed pressure to know what my career is. I’m not sure from where this stems. Is it because I’m no longer twenty-one and so easily convinced by my own invincibility complex that I could get any job I wanted with the right networking? More than ever before, I am aware of the processes required to grow into the fields where I have interest…the paid dues of experience, the masters programs, the entry levels and certifications etc. It is as if, for the first time in my life, I am realizing the importance of job fairs….a mere decade later than when they were first offered. As if I needed the extra level of jarring identity uncertainty, now I also must be skeptical about my own maturity. Is this what getting closer to thirty feels like? Or is this a whole new level of pressure ushered in by life-insurance policies and daycare fees? I do feel like the last ten years have offered incredible identity capital, adding invaluable experiences that you couldn’t pay me to trade…but the question of asking what now does this capital point toward is one I have not faced before.
2. The way I search for jobs has changed, and it has surprised me how much compromise I’m willing to make in the “is this exactly what I want?” department if there is a balanced and worthwhile trade of benefits for my family and energy left at the end of the day to love well and live well. I’m not saying this will last forever, or that I’m considering going into education (since I’m fairly certain no one would make a worse sixth grade teacher than I would). But within the realms of my gifts and my interests, I think my idealism has shifted from perfect job description to which I can give my entire life to meaningful work that can add to a good life. I didn’t expect this.
3. There’s nothing quite like giving birth that exposes what else in your life you consider “your baby.” The re-evaluation is something I never would have welcomed if I had seen it coming, and yet it is natural and feels ok. I have been faced with questions that I needed answering…like what is important, and what can I actually do, and what am I to offer the world, and what doesn’t sit well with me, and what am I holding onto that needs letting go, and what is the thing that I can’t see myself not doing, and what am I scared about. These were lurking around in the subconscious anyway…changing jobs has just opened their gate and welcomed the flood…the flood that counseling and prayer and friends and melatonin are helping me work through and sleep off.
What a hard thing to be in this world—a human—not to mention, a millennial human in search of meaningful work with a fresh baby on the hip.
If you’re in this spot, hey! Me too:) I can offer not much more than camaraderie and somewhat of a pep talk which will mostly consist of how you shouldn’t watch Daniel Tiger within 24 hours of your interview.
We can do this.