Saturday, October 02, 2010

So here's the thing...

Sorry for the unintentional hiatus there, folks. September got really busy, really fast. Jackson wasn't the only one who had a first day of school around here as yours truly officially re-entered the adult world via the path to graduate school.

So, here's the thing (I'll explain about graduate school shortly). When I quit my job nearly five years ago to stay home with the kids (kid in the singular form then), I was asked all the time "so, are you just taking a break?" and "you're planning to go back, right?" and I never knew how to answer those questions. Here were my two opposing thoughts on the topic:

1.) Um, do I have to go back? Why isn't it okay for me to "just" stay home with my kids and give them the best damn family life that I can possibly create without the stress of an outside job if our personal preferences and financial situation would allow for it?

2.) Hmm...can I plead the fifth? It is totally possible that I may *hate* staying home with the kids and may want to run screaming back into an office setting--any office setting--just to get away, but I don't want to admit that now or commit myself to anything that I may not live up to. (Again, why do I *have* to want to go back?)

But I didn't say either of those things to the polite but nosey inquisitive types. I just said things like "oh, I don't know" and "I'll wait to see what happens when elementary school rolls around" to brush them off. (While I silently stewed about options #1 and #2 above. Seriously, why does a mother/woman have to report her intentions to "the feminism council of her neighborhood" just to still be in their good graces, depending on the answer?)

Now, as my oldest is nearing five (yes, dear and faithful readers who have been with me since that first post back in 2006 [hi mom], he's almost FIVE), I'm starting to see how this could get old. This stay at home mom gig, I mean. Not mothering in general. (Though I certainly have my days...)

I'm starting to see that--while I love making all of our bread from scratch and cloth diapering our wee babe (who is SO not a wee babe anymore, is potty-training herself before my eyes now and thinks SHE'S the one turning five soon...) and growing/canning our own vegetables and cooking 90% of our meals from scratch and handknitting anything wool that my family wears in a year and playing and connecting with other SAHMoms and going on long hikes in the middle of the week with my kids because I can--I might want to do something else too.

Not to say that I want to stop doing these things at all--I love trying to live a sustainable homegrown life--but maybe I just needed a five year break from the crazy train that is "a regular out of the home job" so I could figure out at which stop I'd like to board the train again, or what line I need to be on, or maybe if I should be on a train at all.

All this is to say that I'm going back to work, soonish, eventually, and after much hard work, preparation and study. I always said that I would NOT apply for graduate school unless it would give me specific job training for something and I had no frakking idea what that something would be so that was a moot point. I have two Bachelor of Arts degrees that didn't train me for anything (Anthropology and American Indian Studies) and while I am proud of them and the work I did to earn them, I do not wish to repeat a fun yet useless educational experience to the tune of thousands of dollars.

But somewhere over the summer, somewhere in between reading lots of books about autism, attending parent/child autism workshops and living with my Aspie son, it hit me: I think I'd like to be an occupational therapist. And I think I'd like to work with autistic kids (though I'm leaving the door open for working with old people too...I love old people).

I did the research and it confirmed what I thought about occupational therapy: it's a super cool, holistic therapy that is in high-demand and can benefit many populations. A little bit of science, a little bit of physical therapy, a little bit of psychology and a lot of intuition. Sociology comes into play and ANTHROPOLOGY is even listed as a good undergraduate major to have if pursuing occupational therapy (which is a really, really nice relief after all of these years of not being able to actually use my degree, though the connection between the two is merely theoretical, not practical).

Sold.

There are a couple of awesome occupational therapy graduate programs in my area (and I have my sights set on ONE, for sure...) but I won't be ready to apply for a few years. Seems there are a few prerequisite hoops that I have to jump through first (see? Anthropology didn't offer a practical connection coursework-wise...). So I am now enrolled in college again and am taking General Psychology for starters this fall. Abnormal Psychology and Lifespan Development Psychology are in the line-up too as are Human Anatomy and Physiology (which doesn't bother me in the slightest because I actually do find science interesting when coupled with a career goal like this...however, the organic chemistry and biochemistry prerequisites-to-my-prerequisites do make my stomach turn a little...). Apparently, I'll have to take Statistics again since my "A" from 15 years ago is considered too old, so I'll have to cross the bridge back into the math world at some point too (deep breath...).

All of this is totally do-able though. I loved school the first time (except for a very stupid and unprepared freshman year and a checked-out-way-too-early senior year) and spent several consecutive quarters on the Dean's List to prove it. So I know I can put on my super nerd hat and plow through these courses in order to apply for graduate school. But that's only one piece of the puzzle for application. Work or volunteer experience is required to get into graduate school, so I'm doing that too. I just landed a Therapy Assistant Volunteer position with a prominent children's hospital (thanks to my aunt and her awesome connections!) and I begin next week.

Whoa. Next week? Does that mean I'll be out of the house? Does that mean that this stay-at-home-mom will not be AT HOME (for at least a little bit)?

Yep.

So now I realize that my answer to those questions that bugged me so much was intentionally vague because I didn't want to commit and didn't know what my career goals would be. I didn't even know about occupational therapy then because it was my son who created an entry into that world for me and we didn't even learn of his diagnosis until so much later after his birth. I am thankful for the time I've had at home with my kids both for what I've been able to give them and what I've been able to give myself: a break. Don't get me wrong (DON'T GET ME WRONG), being a stay-at-home-mom is NOT a break from work by any stretch (quite the opposite), but it did allow me to jump off the crazy train of my previous work path to sit and think about redefinition for a while.

And I think I like this new path.

So, that's the thing. Sorry for the break. Don't worry, I'll still have lots of stories of homemade bread to share and lots of photos of the kids to show off and even a funny story or two to tell. But if you're wondering, "where did yogurt & granola go? wasn't she around just a little bit ago?," I'm still here. Just in a cocoon for a bit. My wing pattern will be revealed in due time.

6 comments:

Ruth's Place said...

I hope that you really enjoy going back to school.

sellgen said...

Sounds GREAT!

tangeibook said...

Good Luck on your new path. The path I started out after high school is not the same one I take right now. It's amazing what points us a different direction.

Lisa said...

I love reading this especially since I really missed the opportunity to catch up with you at Erin's wedding over the weekend.

Two things,
Why does being a feminist have to be synonymous with going to work?
This is mostly rhetorical but I get the nosy, "when are you going back to work" from that lot. Like raising independent, engaged, socially open children, full time, can't be a feminist endeavor? Sorry, just my own bug there.

Second, YEAH! It is SO fun to go back to school when you have clear vision and intention (I am experiencing this now as well) of what you want to do for the world!

Congrats, you will continue to be an amazing mom, and an amazing student. I know this because you grow such great vegetables. :)

Lisa

Erin said...

Katie,
I LOVE reading your blog! It truly inspires me. Im so happy for you and your decsion that you feel so good about. It will be so fun going back to school, using a different part of your brain and always being one step up with Jackson.
CONGRATS on your extended journey

Cassie said...

Hi Catherine,

Just checking in to see what you are up to. I can't believe how big your kids are, but they are close in age to my own so why is that such a suprise? I hope your new directions are going well, you have a lot of changes going on.