Working Life

I really don’t know what to post about tonight. I really don’t. I’ve been working on a project for work for much of the weekend, and so I haven’t been tuned into the world around me much.

I had forgotten how that could happen. I used to work full time, before I became a mom full time, and there were times when work life would just dominate everything. Deadlines would loom, clients would need this or that, and you had to get it done barring everything else. Work could suck all the air out of a room.

It was a lot more stressful, too. There were periods when I could not sleep for all the work I had to do, all the worrying and preparation that was required. There were long periods of time when I dreamed about work, doing phone calls in my sleep or working on items of a project over and over and over again, all night long.

There were long periods when I was miserable. Long periods when I was exhausted. Long periods when I hated my job and my life.

Note that corporate life for some people is very rewarding, and satisfying, and meaningful. And that’s fantastic. I’m just not, and have never been, that person, is all.

The project I am working on, for the job I do now, is not the intense, stressful monster that work projects used to be in my former working life. But still, old habits die hard. I will be fretting about it all night. But the good thing is, I’ll forget it by mid-week.

I don’t miss my full time working life. I remember the feeling, back in high school, when we had to decide what we wanted to do with our lives, where we were going to go to university, what our plans were. I remember distinctly knowing, KNOWING, that working in an office would absolutely kill me. That the corporate environment was NOT for me, and that i would just suffocate and die if I had to go that route.

I remember discussing it with my father, an office man all his life, who got very angry and very insulted. So I said I would become a teacher.

That appeased him. But not me. I didn’t want to be a teacher; I just said it to call truce. So, I didn’t. And when I finished school with absolutely useless qualifications, I eventually ended up working in the corporate world. Software, to be precise. And while the gadgetry and toys of that environment really appealed to me, the office atmosphere most definitely did not. If there was anyone anywhere more ill-suited to working in an office, it was me.

And after 15 years, I was never so glad to leave anything in my life.

Being a stay at home mom who works part time, mostly from home, has its fair share of stress. Your clients are very demanding and are with you all the time. Your office generally looks like a tip. You get about as much sleep as you did when you were burning the midnight oil in a cubicle somewhere. And your paying work has to get done when your main clients go to bed.

But you know what? Corporate life could learn a lot from this.

I can wear comfy clothes and slippers to work. Comfortable workers are happy workers.

I have flexible hours. As long as I get the work done, when I say I will, then that’s what matters. And I plan for deadlines that absolutely can’t be changed, like school start times and dentist appointments and the like. Core hours are irrelevant to a four year old, who lives in the now.

My commute is a couple of steps, maybe up or down some stairs, depending. The only crazy people I deal with on the commute is a kid who has to ask me a question RIGHT NOW MOM or Lucy the cat roaring up and down the stairs and trying to trip me up. Except one day a week and then it’s all YAY WE ARE GOING OUT. (Not Lucy.)

When I do a good job, there’s always a big kiss and a hug and heartfelt thank yous. Not that this would be a good thing in an office, but really, some thanks and appreciation for a job well done is wholly lacking in corporate life, mostly because others are too busy taking credit for your hard efforts and good ideas.

My workplace is pleasant. I have music to listen to and art to look at and snacks. And some of it is created by my client, who is also, by the way, good at sharing.

Yeah, we don’t have as much money and we can’t just buy what we want when we want like we used to. But we have what we need, and we’re happier with it, I think. I don’t get out of the workplace much, or talk to many adults, or have many friends. (Wait, that’s not much different to the way life was when I WAS in a big office, actually.) And I don’t have a big fancy title.

Except “Mom”, which is the best and most satisfying one I’ve had to date. The least empty title I can honestly say I ever had. And the one I worked the hardest to get and to live up to.

Now, I just need to hang it on my office door. And probably, I’ll need an office door, as well.

2 thoughts on “Working Life

  1. I suspect that this is the reason why I’m having so much trouble finding a job (I’ve been looking for nearly a year now since I was downsized out of my last job). I just can’t drink the corporate kool-aid.

    It isn’t the work that bothers me. I thrive when I’ve got a project and a deadline. In my last job, I worked from home. I had a daily deadline that I missed only once the whole time I did that job, and that was when the power went off and I literally couldn’t do my job because it depended on having access to the internet.

    What bothers me is all the crap that surrounds but has nothing to do with the job. The wardrobe expectations. The social expectations. The expectation that one act like the job isn’t just the most important thing, but that’s the only thing in the world.

    So, since I can’t find a job, and since I live in one of the most difficult areas in the country to get a job, I’m trying to make my own job again. I’m working on two book-length writing projects. I’m looking for freelance writing jobs (and have one agreed in principle but the client isn’t ready to start yet, and don’t know when or if that will happen in reality). I’m starting the process of developing an online magazine. And I’m having fun with all of that, but something has got to start paying soon.

    Apologies for the long comment, but your post struck a chord with me this morning.


    • I totally agree. I never fit in. I loved the work, but it was the “culture” I couldn’t stand. So I am glad to be done with it. I do miss the money — it made things easier and more comfortable, that’s for sure — but it eventually felt like the price of my well-being was too high to pay.

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