December 6, 2011 by Leah
Here’s something that will surprise most people who know me: I think back on my five-year employment with an arts organization in Anchorage with only love and affection these days. I know that rosy glow smacks of misrememberance (not totally, of course, but no job is consistently wonderful). Yet, after 20 months of searching for employment and being self-employed, my last real job is now firmly lodged in my mind as a haven of order and stability. Since I left, of my own volition, I’ve been dealing with a crappy economy and surprisingly unprofessional behavior from people who should know better. And despite it all, the job search has become a way of life.
Don’t get me wrong, things have gone reasonably well. I’ve had several interviews. I started my own business and met my goal of having the revenue from that business exceed the start-up costs in the first year. I’ve even been hired; however, as things stand, I have no requirements to actually show up to an office. Also, my next project is due on March 1st and will take me a week. Tops.
So the job search continues. Like I said, it’s now a way of life. I recently signed up with a website called elance.com, which is great in theory but stressful and competitive in practice. Plus, since I work in the same place I eat breakfast, I have a hard time remembering to check, say, work email accounts or random freelancing websites I just signed up for on a daily basis. Once I have projects I’m a good worker, but the getting of them can be something of a problem.
So, I’ve kept my toe in the employment waters, applying for jobs that look particularly interesting. When we first moved here, this was fine. I wasn’t pregnant, and though we were planning on starting a family, I figured it would take us a few months to get going. Not so. I got pregnant, took a job, found out I was pregnant, and kind of kept looking. I figured it was a long time before the baby arrived, or even announced its presence in any kind of physical manner.
I still feel like it’s a long time before the baby arrives, but it’s nowhere near as long a time as it was back in September. My current crop of co-workers has no idea I’m pregnant unless they read this blog (hi!), which is doubtful, as I’m not Facebook friends with anyone in Walla Walla. Like I said, I don’t spend much time in an office, and I’m not showing except in a “wow, she’s gained kind of a lot of weight” way. (Ugh.) That said, May isn’t that far off in the employment scheme of things, and this is where it gets tricky.
I am planning to stay home with the baby. If I had a vocation, rather than a job, or made a ridiculous amount of money, I might seriously consider alternatives, but I just can’t see working my butt off in a job I’m only vaguely attached to while paying someone else to raise my child, whom, I’m told, will only be a child once. Aaron is on board with this for both financial and parental reasons. (He would actually be thrilled to stay home with the baby, but since he’s the one with the engineering degree and the super-stable government job that also offers kick-ass health insurance, that’s not going to happen.)
I have also been in management, been to business school, and hired people. I know that the hiring process is no fun for anyone involved, it costs the company time and money, and it takes time for a company to recoup the hiring and training costs for a new employee. When it was September and I was looking for jobs to take before the baby comes at the end of May, I felt vaguely guilty about this.
Now that it’s December, and we’re looking at a timeline of less than six months, I’m feeling really guilty about this. I am also feeling a surprising sense of urgency, like I need to put by every available dollar I can before the baby arrives. I plan to continue doing some freelancing from home once the baby is born, but for now, I could be doing a lot more.
I’m not sure whether I’m hoping that the company that is currently leading me in an employment dance offers me a job or not. I’m daydreaming of spending a few more months in an office with hours, and coworkers, and dress codes, and employment manuals, and expectations. But, if I get hired and don’t say anything about being pregnant (which I wouldn’t do, having once sat on a hiring committee that rejected a candidate due to the fact that she revealed a pregnancy in an interview – it may be illegal but it happens all the time), would I actually get to form any legitimate relationships with supervisors or coworkers or would they think me some kind of scam artist?
I’m reminding myself that there’s always a chance I’ll love this new job and decide to be a working mother after all, but deep down I don’t think it’s going to happen. Then again, they might love me and offer me some kind of modified schedule or work-from-home arrangement. Again, probably not going to happen. But, there’s nothing stopping me from at least going through the interview process and seeing what I think about all this at the end of it – if I’m even still in the running.