the gregarious homebody

Monday, November 10, 2008

Is this what a midlife crisis looks like?

I'm a year and change from my 40th birthday and have been really questioning the direction my life is going lately. Not my personal life, but my work life. When I was planning my life (and I've always been a planner) I don't think I thought past the "get married, have kids" plan and I'm lucky enough to have a supportive, loving husband and two great (so far--please God, please god) kids. I don't think I thought past the time when my kids wouldn't need me so constantly. I don't think I thought I'd have a life of my own again. I know I didn't think it would go by so fucking fast.

So here I am with the "perfect" full-timish job that allows me to be creative and cook practically anything I want (fun!), that allows me to be home with the kids in the summer (FUN!) and to have occasional breaks when college is not in session (essential). That has hours that are flexible enough that I can even be there when the kids get home from school, with the only caveat that I have to go back to work to finish dinner. It doesn't pay a whole lot and doesn't have any monetary benefits but I've always thought of those breaks and the flexibility as the perks of the job. I've always described it as the perfect "mom job" and it is.

But lately I've been thinking that I don't want a Mom Job. I want a Jen Job. Something that will of course be benefitial to my family, yes, but also something that will enhance my own life, will challenge me in ways I'm not feeling challenged now. Something that might have grownup things like a 401K or a dental plan.

And something that does not involve a hot kitchen or wearing pants that occasionally smell like meat.

What is this job? I wish I knew. I haven't done anything (with the exception of some major volunteering) other than cooking in my entire career so I'm really going outside the ole comfort zone. Thankfully, my parents were wise enough to tell me to keep going to college even though I wanted to change gears and go to culinary school. They were generous enough to allow me (and to pay for me) to do both. So for 16 years I've been a chef with a Sociology degree. I never thought I'd "use" my degree, but now I'm so glad I have it. Maybe it'll actually come in to play and my dad can stop wondering exactly why he paid for it if I was going to bake cakes for a living.

Here are my ideas, so far, of what I think I might be interested in and perhaps good at:
  • Guidance counselor; I would shoot myself if I worked in an elementary or middle school, but I think I would enjoy being part of a teenager's life (all the planning, all the angst..)

  • Greek Affairs/Residence Life coordinator; I feel like I've been taking a sort of Greek 101/How to be a Coed course for 3 years. I like working with the girls so much and would love to take on a more advisory position.

  • Some kind of counselor in a women's clinic or center on a college campus; Have I mentioned that my Sociology concentration was in Women's Studies? It seemed a good idea at the time...

  • Something involving writing; I'm not so confident to announce My Intentions to Be a Writer because...well, because I'm chicken. But I would love to do something that could incorporate writing even if it wasn't the main ingredient.

    • So what am I doing about finding a JJ? I must finally be sick of hearing myself whine
      about this because I've made an appointment for a Career Counseling session at the local community college. I have no idea what they'll do for me. I'm hoping it's not going to be a What Color is Your Parachute session. I want someone to take a look at my list up there and tell me practical steps to get there-- or at least to find if I want go get there. The thought of going back to school is TERRIFYING to me (mostly because I'm in my pajamas by 7 every night and quite happy to NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE), but I've come to the conclusion that it might be the thing I have to do.

      Why does it seem like it would be so much easier to buy a sports car and have an affair?


      Fairy Godmother said...

      You remind me of George Costanza, who thought he could be a sportscaster cause he liked baseball. That didn't work out.

      There's more to being a guidance counselor than liking teens. You'll need a Masters Degree, but I don't see that happening.

      Greek advisor? Perhaps. Do you feel like Mrs. Garrett? "Girls! Girls!" "Blair and Tooty, stop that right now!"

      You seem to like writing and cooking, so why don't you combine both? Maybe write a novel about a chef (a roman a clef?). You could do that in your PJs at 7pm. Teach a cooking class.

      Or work in a cooking supply store.

      There are lots o'possibilities. Focus on your "id" not your "superego"

      jen said...

      WOW. Can't tell if you're hostile or helpful.

      Patricia said...

      I think the career counselor move is a good one. Inertia is a bad thing, so I think as soon as you start asking questions of people who help people find jobs you'll feel more confident and you'll see things a bit clearer. Knowing you as I do, I think there's lots of potential for you as a women's counselor on a campus, at a clinic, etc. You seem a natural for that because of your honesty, compassion and humor. That's my two cents.
      And be careful what you wish for! Lots of grown ups who have jobs with 401k's are depressed right now at the prospect of working longer than they thought they'd have to jsut so they aren't eating cat food when they retire! I didn't open my last statement at all, why bother?
      You're young (you are damnit!, because I'm older than you!) you are smart, and most of all, you WANT to find a new challenge, so you will. In the meantime, I know you'll continue to thank your lucky stars for the great life you have, the steady job you have, and the blessings of your family and friends who support you in every endeavor. It will happen. One step at a time...

      The Handsome Husband said...

      I agree with Patti. The career counseling is a good idea.

      But, what's this crap about a sports car and an affair??

      jen said...

      Well that's a lot more helpful than this "fairy godmother" person. Who I'm just guessing doesn't know me at all. George Costanza?! WHy not just SAY I'm an asshole.

      I feel better.

      I'll report to you on THanksgiving Eve about the career counseling session (appointment tomorrow). I think it will put some perspective on things too.

      Anonymous said...

      All cornball, pop-psychology aside (ie, just follow your heart, Jen!)there is no better opportunity to do real mid-life career exploration that through volunteerism. We are in the midst of the worst economic situation of our life time and at least 6 months away from seeing any relief. There are so many individuals and families in need that could benefit from someone that has the skills, passion, humor and optomism that you have. Donate an hour or two per week in various fields (runaway teens, big bro/big sis, hotlines, dare I say soup kitchens). Your natural talents will shine and you will hear your calling!

      If that doesn't work, try the sportscar.

      jen said...

      HA! Can you see ME in a sportscar??

      I've got a plan of action now, after seeing the career counselor, but I definitely am thinking about calling someplace like Turning Point (thanks, Vix!)to volunteer.

      adozeneggs said...

      I found your blog through Bake at 350 and I noticed that you listen to Howard Stern when you're not blogging. Well, me too. In fact I just posted a confession of my addiction to HS and my partnership with Lisa G.
      Anyway, what about working for a cooking magazine. I used to work for Cooks Illustrated and lots of extremely talented chefs left restaurant jobs for the M-F, cooking and writing gig. You could freelance some writing too.
      And I don't think you want to work in a cooking supply store, that's just a really bad idea. I couldn't tell if that was hostile or helpful either.

      jen said...

      I know! I think I'm definitely going to go with "hostile."

      I love the idea of working for a cooking magazine and I wish I'd done that right out of school. But I think I'm ready to "work" in the kitchen for my family and friends. I think it would go back to being fun.

      I had a really really good experience with the career counselor and am currently studying for the GRE's. Scary!

      BTW, I read YOUR blog daily!! LOVE your work! Thanks for stopping by mine...

      adozeneggs said...

      Sorry to leave a comment unrelated to your post, but, I emailed you on Thursday regarding the icing. Then i checked again and realized that your email is a verizon account which we've been having problems with. So do you have another email that I could send the icing info to?? I don't want to give away all our secrets on my blog!!

      adozeneggs said...

      The meringue powder is Henry and Henry "qwik fluff".
      But you can get a glossy finish from any kind. It's not the product, you have to have dry air. Humidity makes the icing take forever to dry, leaving you with a crappy finish. It has to set up and dry faster in order to be shiny. I can't tell you how we do it, but I'm sure you can figure something out!!! (spent too many months figuring it out to just give that away!!)
      Hope that helps!!

      jen said...

      Thanks, Laura!


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