I’m Going Back to Work

If you follow me on twitter (@FireMom) or are friends with me on Facebook, you already know: I got the job. I was a nervous wreck on my drive to the interview but, in the end, that was all for naught. It went well. I remembered how to shake hands firmly while maintaining eye contact, present myself appropriately, have intelligent conversation with adults and generally function in a work place. I don’t remember anyone’s name except for the man who will be my direct boss but I’m horrible at names so this is not a surprise.

For those still not in the know, I’ll be a part-time photographer for our local newspaper. Due to my freelance writing career that I’ve built over the past three years, I may also be presented with an opportunity to write from time to time. It all feels very surreal. How did I get here? Where did this come from?

Now that it’s kind of finalized (awaiting the big okay from the people who sign the checks), I can go ahead and talk about everything that went through my mind this past weekend. It’s a big shift to go from being your own boss (somewhat as I do have contract bosses) to re-entering an office type setting. In fact, the night before my Big Interview, I had a nightmare (because it wasn’t a dream) that I had gone back to work for my previous employer at the news station. It was horrible and I woke in a cold sweat. Do you think my subconscious was working on overdrive regarding my fears and misgivings about this particular opportunity?

The truth is that I was scared. I left the news station (not the same as the newspaper) in 2006 because it wasn’t working for my family. The drama that they gave me in the months after my miscarriage only further sealed the deal. I left with a teeny-tiny writing lead and hoped that I could turn it into a freelancing career. I did. I didn’t miss Small City Politics or Office/Newsroom Drama. I didn’t miss being overworked because my boss knew that I would do the job right, the first time. I didn’t miss much of anything. Except the process of creating news itself. One could argue that I do that in a way here and in my freelancing career but if you’ve ever worked in a newsroom, in any form or fashion, you know what I mean. There’s a beautiful edge to the air. I said it to FireDad over the years that I sometimes missed that feeling. But I wasn’t ready to go back (and never to that news station).

It was always my intention to approach the newspaper once the boys were in school. This opportunity presented itself and, after much discussion with my husband, we decided that it would be a step backward to ignore it now. In fact, one of the editors agreed with me yesterday. I had stipulations going into yesterday’s interview. I don’t work on Sundays or, at the very least, before 12:15 on a Sunday. I simply cannot work the main holidays (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving). I can’t work more than (extremely) part-time at this phase in our family life. And our long-standing all-family vacation in August needed to be accepted, paid or not. It’s the only week my whole family is available to traipse down to the beach. I’m not sending my sons and my husband and staying at home. While I realized that I would be starting at the bottom of the totem pole with this particular company, I knew that these things had to come together in order for this to be a plausible situation for my family.

And they did.


Furthermore, even with my training which starts next week, my boss wants to work with FireDad’s schedule. (For those unfamiliar with the fire life, he works 24 hours at the fire department and then is home for 48.) Which leads me to my final point: Mommy Guilt.

I was having inner conflict all weekend about whether this was the right move, not only for me, but for my family at this point in our lives. This opportunity came before I expected, before I had planned on heading back to doing what it is that I love to do professionally. But I also love to be with my children, to be their Mommy. With this latest incarnation of the Mommy War Drama hitting television and blogs last week, I was being exceptionally hard on myself. Now I can laugh off the general nastiness of the whole ordeal. If leaving my children at home with their father or letting them spend a Saturday afternoon with any one of their many grandparents (who fight over them, by the way) is neglectful, well, I guess I’ll just have to pay for their therapy when they’re older. Those poor, neglected children of mine with too many people to love them; how will they ever survive?

I’m nervous, of course. I do realize that this is a gigantic, seismic shift in how the core of this family operates. TheBrothers are used to Daddy going to work and Mommy “working on her com-pay-ter.” While they will be with their Daddy or the aforementioned long line of grandparents, I still have to be the one to give the kisses and walk out the door. I still have to be the one to properly manage my time working outside the home, working at home (because I’m not dropping any of my writing gigs nor do I plan to), managing the home (though FireDad is a great help) and making sure I get enough face time with those kids of mine. I have to re-learn how to eat a healthy meal outside the home, deal with the previously mentioned Small City Politics and Office/Newsroom Drama and generally present myself as a professional even when I desperately just want to get home and snuggle my children. I’m not mentally sugar-coating this change in our lives. I expect it to be hard. I expect to come home in tears at times. I expect to look at FireDad and say, “Why did you let me do this?” (What? You’ve never blamed your husband for anything that you did? Uh, me either.)

But I’m hoping to love it. Not ever second of it. Just the whole of it. And I’m hoping that my children understand, if not now, someday. Because while I’ve been a happy camper for the past three years, living out my dreams and chasing them through the leaves, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve looked this happy.

Love the Camera
(Shirt via Threadless.)

I’m excited to embark on this new journey. I’m scared, of course. But that kind of adrenaline pumping, see-what’s-around-this-bend kind of fear. The leaves of change have definitely fallen in our yard. I suppose it’s time to rake them up and jump into the pile of change we have created. What else is there to do?

Except to photograph every last blessed moment of it all.


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I was taking a quick shower while the boys were playing the other morning. FireDad was off teaching yet another fire course, leaving me to dash quickly in and out of the shower if I wanted to be clean at all. In the five whole minutes that I was enjoying hot water, something horrible happened in my house.

No one was injured. Well, maybe my ears were injured in the fact that they felt like they were bleeding. No one broke anything. Except my heart. And, later, my pride. They didn’t even really argue with each other. And what did happen was only known by me because BigBrother told on himself. It went something like this:

BigBrother: *traipses into the bathroom* I told [LittleBrother] to shut up.
Me: *pausing the rinsing of my hair* You what?
BigBrother: *mumbling a bit more* I told [LittleBrother] to shut up.
Me: *praying and hoping that he told his brother to sit up or anything else* You what?

At this point, I peek my head from behind the shower curtain so that I may watch the lips on my oldest son’s mouth. I am certain, of course, that the running water, his mumbling and years of listening to my own loud volume have damaged my ears and I am simply mishearing what he is saying to me. Perhaps he’s not saying anything with the word “up” at the end of his sentence, which, depending on the content of the sentence is or is not an acceptable usage. Maybe he’s letting me know that he “loves his [LittleBrother] so much.” Right? Or maybe, grammar rules aside, he’s telling me that he “helped [LittleBrother] up” off the floor. That one is said in the hopes that he didn’t push his brother down to the floor in the first place. Still, helping is nice. All the same, I concentrate intently on my son’s lips and ask, one more time, “You what?”

And he responds, “I told [LittleBrother] to shut up.”

I pulled my head back behind the curtain, shut it, closed my eyes and, very calmly, told my oldest son to go to his room. I then went back to rinsing my hair, cursing preschool, the movie Finding Nemo and life in general. Oh, and myself. I have not told the children to shut up. I have asked them to be quiet, zip it, please stop talking and, oh my gosh! please be quiet! (Exclamation and italics points included.) I do not like the word, or rather, phrase, shut up. I think it is ugly. There are a million and one ways to get someone to stop talking and saying shut up, while one of them, is one of the least respectful. (Adding in colorful words between shut and up probably rank higher in the Least Respectful category of Word Awards.) All the same, he has heard me say it. We have a neighbor who doesn’t care much for her dog. (Or her children but that’s another story.) The dog is one of those yipping, nasty little dogs that barks at its own shadow. All day long. I have, on occasion, said, rather loudly, “OH SHUT UP!” And so, while Nemo’s Daddy says it to Dory on that movie that ranks as one of our favorites, the truth is that he likely picked it up from me.


All of this went through my head as I finished my shower; a shower that was no longer relaxing but at least served the purpose of cleaning me off for the day. I toweled off, dressed and went into BigBrother’s room. He was paging through his books, the pile on his bed growing to a size that lets me know it is, in fact, time to clean his room again. I sat down to have a conversation I really didn’t care to have.

Why did you say shut up?” He didn’t make eye contact. “I don’t know,” he said quietly as he continued to leaf through his book. “Where did you hear that word?” I knew the answer but I prayed that he was going to call on a Disney movie or even The Bad Kid in Preschool. Not so. “You.


I went on to explain that I shouldn’t use that word, even if I’m angry with the noise level or with someone else. In our house, words that we don’t/shouldn’t use are called “Ugly Words” and he then asked if it was an Ugly Word. It was. He finally looked at me, confused as to why his Mommy, of all people, would use an Ugly Word. Surely his Mommy was always perfect and only used the best of language. I fail, what can I say? I assured him that I wouldn’t use the word anymore and neither should he, especially not to his younger brother. And, oh please oh please oh please, never at school. I think he just felt overly relieved that he wasn’t in huge trouble so he gave me a big hug and ran off, with a smile, to play with his brother. How could he be in trouble? This one was my own fault. I accept responsibility.

No Ugly Words, Just Weird Smiles

Now if only someone would accept responsibility for and take care of that #%$^# dog! (What? That’s an ugly word, too? @#$% it.)

[I know I said I was going to write about my Big Interview scheduled for later today but I thought that might lead me to use Ugly Words. I promise a full update on the situation tomorrow. For now, I’m too nervous to form coherent sentences on the subject. Think of me at 10:15am today.]