I began writing here a couple of years ago when we landed in the USA and I suddenly had no paid employment prospects on the near horizon. At the time I was searching for a new sense of worth…convincing myself that being at home/unemployable (for reasons of immigration policy, not a sudden lack of competence, though at times that is still how it felt) was a legitimate use of my resources.
Then, in true international-post-doc-wife fashion, I fell pregnant, and the ensuing couple of years became about the labour of love that caring for Kazuo certainly entails. There is a kind of strange interplay between the Stay At Home Mother and the SuperMother…a bit like the evil dichotomy of Virgin/Whore that women have been trying to shake off for decades. I feel very strongly that both positions are valuable, that we make the choices that best fit our circumstances and that women who are at home with their families AND women who return to some kind of paid employment outside the home are doing the work of community building and should be celebrated. Personally, it was suddenly much easier to create a kind of network and sense of legitimacy in being a SAHM, even though I knew that had to be a temporary state of affairs. This early in our life together (without owning a home or establishing ourselves) we cannot really afford to live on one income for too long.
But returning to the UK (and thus, the possibility of employment) has thrown up a raft of new Not Working kinda issues for me. In the intervening years there has been a global recession, a change of government and some massive (and ongoing) belt tightening in the UK economy. This is not a good time to be trying to find employment in a small community. I am also discovering the costs of moving countries twice within a decade and of leaving here mid-career in my mid-thirties.
Finally, there is some cost involved in some of the other decisions I made over the past decade with respect to my teaching career…moving into boarding and letting some of my teaching professional development fall by the wayside was perhaps a bit of an error. It was certainly foolhardy to keep thinking (in a very ostrichy way) that I would one day return to New Zealand, so jumping through hoops to register with the General Teaching Council when I had a secure position in an independent school was unnecessary. Sigh.
Realistically, I do not want to return to the classroom just yet. I know many mothers do so…I am just certain they have more personal resources than I do…I would find it difficult to sustain planning, marking, reporting and being a committed member of a school community whilst still maintaining a focus on the family life we are trying to build while Kazuo is still so young. Equally, I think that since he has not been cared for by anyone outside the family, the transition to daycare/nursery needs to be a little more gradual (we are settling right now, and it seems a heart-wrenching process for both of us…), I would find it hard to leave him in care for a full week just yet.
But it seems that right now, I am suddenly less employable than I have ever been, in the most fiercely competitive market I have ever entered. Part-time jobs that pay well and have regular schedules just don’t seem to exist. I am still looking…and persisting…but that feeling of being a little unworthy has descended again…even though I still have the safety net of our daily Kazuo and Mama routine to anchor me. I am not sure I will feel properly settled here until I have resolved this issue, and gotten our schedules a little more fixed, and figured out just what I am ‘about’ for the next little while. This keeps shifting every time I spy something I may be ‘qualified’ for…a stranger concept than I ever expected.
Anyway, there is a what’s-on-top about all that just now…I am sure I will bring some more clarity to this discussion in the next wee while. But it is Wednesday, and I feel the need to try and find something new to apply for this week. One job a week is the goal…getting there. Wish me luck!