New year, new profession…

It’s just the third day of the New Year, and I’m sitting inside my home, watching big feathery wet snowflakes wafting down from the sky. So much has changed in this past year; I can hardly wrap my head around it all. I gave up my weekly writing gig at our local paper…not enough time to devote to it.

I’ve been “too busy” to blog. I’ve been “too busy” to do many of the things I love. Without going into the boring specifics of the past couple of years, I found myself in need of a full-time job, basically for health insurance for my family. An opportunity presented itself at the perfect time, and I began a full-time remote position as a stylist at a subscription clothing service in 2017. Setting my own hours?

Working from home in my pjs?

Being able to log off, go pick up my kids from school daily?

The best health/dental/vision insurance of our lives? …All positives. The negatives?

Sitting in front of a computer, inside my house, for 40 hours a week.

Having practically no adult face-to-face contact or interactions.

Feeling isolated from coworkers & the branch office–there was no incentive to go to events, no pay for the 2 1/2 hour drive to get there.

No chance for advancement, no cost of living nor yearly increases at evaluation time.

But the worst part? Not being given the tools to be successful in my position.
Not hitting the metrics set by said company led to my being disciplined. Several times.

My superior was just following protocol. She was probably being called on the carpet due to my inconsistencies (directly related to not having necessary items to do my job well). I became so disheartened that I would begin saying, “I hate my job, I hate my job, I hate my job…” as I signed on for another 3 to 4 hour stressful session of styling.
AJ said, “Just quit Mom, we don’t like seeing you this way! You’re miserable.” Aah, but you see, young grasshopper, it’s not that simple.
When I was a married woman, it would’ve been a no-brainer. Mark would have told me to quit (he did that a couple of times during our 25 years together). I would have written a beautifully succinct resignation letter and given this place two weeks’ notice. Instead, it finally (after seven years, I know, I’m a bit slow on the uptake sometimes) hit me:

I am the breadwinner of our party of three. I am it.

Health insurance, home insurance, car insurance, bill paying, home improvement projects, and 150 other tasks all fall in my lap. I’m the one who checks to make sure all the doors are locked and the alarm system activated before bedtime. With these responsibilities, I was stuck until I could find a viable alternative to my current situation. I began looking in earnest around late May or early June 2018. I found it impossible to condense all my work experience on a single sheet resume, but made it as short as possible while extolling my skill set. As I was perusing the job possibilities, my 15 year old son, Ben, had a heart to heart with me. “Mom, why are you looking at clerical positions? You know what Dad would say if he were here?”

No, Benjamin Wallace, but I’m sure you’re going to enlighten me…”He’d say you have two college degrees. You should use them. Aim high, don’t settle!” In my life B.C. (before children), I was a medical technologist and a clinical laboratory database administrator. But that was close to 20 years ago!

I gave it up to be a full-time stay at home mom, thinking I would never have a reason to go back to the clinical setting. But as we all well know, many times life doesn’t turn out the way you plan it. Instead of moving to central Kansas in 2013, I became a widow in 2011. Plan A, then B were gone; heck, I think we’ve gone through at least 7 or 8 more in the years since 2011. My best estimation is we’re currently on Plan H, for “HOWELL.” Taking the advice of my very wise son, I reorganized the resume and put in applications at the local hospital and city. I was a bit surprised not to get at least an interview with the hospital, considering I worked there for almost 7 years, leaving on what I thought were good terms. (Heck, I doubled my salary by leaving…any one of the superiors there would’ve done the same).
Sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office, which is situated in a clinic here in town, I had a mini-revelation: the Clinic had a laboratory.

I pulled up the website while in the waiting area. They had an opening for a medical technologist.
After arriving back home, I filled out an application and finished all the on-line processes. The next morning, around 11 am, they called wanting to interview me. Sitting in my pajamas, working in my home office, I asked if we could possibly schedule something for the next day. Long story short(er), they didn’t offer me the medical technologist position. After my interview, they formulated a job description that would play to my administrative and computer skills.

Yes, I accepted a job I didn’t interview for, before I had the opportunity to look over said job description.
I didn’t even know what my official job title was until I went in for my pre-employment physical. I joyously sent a message to the hospital HR department, saying I was no longer in need of a position & to pull my applications.

I had to cancel another interview with the city as well. The new job began last month.
I’m slowly settling into a routine. I haven’t worked outside the home, full-time, since AJ was a baby.
That baby turned 17 the day after Christmas. I’m loving the adult interactions, having a reason to get up, get dressed, and get out among the living. I could not for the life of me find my ASCP certification certificates, nor my two diplomas from Murray State University (necessary documentation for my position).
My best bet is that Mark Howell put them away some place “safe”whenever we were reorganizing our home office about 10 years ago.
You know what? I found out replacements can be ordered 🙂 The best thing that’s happened in the past month is my happiness and contentment have returned.

I’m no longer stressed about meeting metrics or being held to impossible standards; I don’t have to choose between my integrity or my job. The boys noticed the difference as soon as I turned in my notice. “Mom, you’re like a different person. You’re so happy!” I don’t want my sons to look back on their high school days and remember my yelling at the computer, saying how much I hated a job. I want them to see their mother working a full-time position, using her degrees and certifications, in a job that even the 15 year old computer geek is impressed by. (Dude, a lot of your knowledge came from moi.) When they were younger, I worried they might never see me as “more” than a stay at home mom. I wanted them to know I had a career until age 40.

I walked away because I could, and it was what was best for our family. Now they’re adapting to my not being able to stop, drop everything, and be chauffeur.

Or lunch delivery person before the band leaves on a 4 hour trip for a football game (Whataburger travels quite well in a backpack).

I can no longer pick up the younger one at school. Instead we’re depending on the kindness of friends to fill in the gaps. I’m missing several of the older one’s varsity basketball games, after promising to be in the stands for every game possible.
His response, “Mom, it’s okay. You’re a working woman now.”
I’m truly excited for this new year, this new opportunity for a career.

A re-start, an annotation to the previous chapter, the beginning of a completely new one.
And I have time to do what I truly love…..write.

You may get tired of reading my sometimes-disconnected-almost always-funny musings. I’m back, baby.….

2 thoughts on “New year, new profession…

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