Sunday, March 4, 2012

When I Grow Up...

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a mom. And a stay-at-home one at that.

I started babysitting when I was about 10. My dear aunt actually trusted me with my baby cousin! From there I went on to watching the kids of neighbors and family friends. By the time high school hit, I was funding all activities, clothing purchases, and gas money with weekend babysitting gigs. During college, I nannied over Summers. And even before I got married, I started thinking about the day we would be ready for a family.

What I never really thought about, was what I would do with myself in the meantime.

I majored in History in college. It was a subject I really enjoyed. Plus, it came easy to me and I knew I could ace the classes. It never dawned on me that I would have limited job options with "only" a B.A. in History. So I decided to pursue teaching. What else do you do with a history degree? Then, 2 months before graduation - my acceptance to a teaching program in hand - I decided I didn't want to be a teacher.

Now what?

My parents have never said anything, but I'm pretty sure they were worried about me. Four years at a private university, thousands of dollars of debt, and no plan!?

Luckily, they didn't have to worry long.

My dad was actually the one that got me connected with my first job interview. His boss's friend's boss (got that?) was looking for an entry level analyst at her environmental consulting firm. No experience necessary. Perfect.

And so, two months after graduation, I began my first real job as an Environmental Analyst. I was making $14.00 an hour and I was ecstatic! I had no idea what I was doing, but still!

It turns out that I was pretty good at being an Environmental Analyst. My major actually prepared me pretty well for this line of work - I knew how to critically analyze documents, I knew how to write in a way that the general public could understand, and I was great at doing research. All very useful skills in evironmental consulting work. I caught on quickly and got to be involved in a lot of really neat development projects during the boom of the 2000s.

After getting married, my husband and I decided to move to be near his new job, which meant I had to quit mine. It was the right thing to do, but it was also really hard. I liked my job. I liked my co-workers. I felt guilty for leaving a company that had taken a chance on me, even though I had no experience.

Plus, I had no idea what I was going to do next.

I tried to find work at another environmental company, but nothing panned out. Months went by and I was really getting discouraged. I finally started putting in applications at local cities hoping for a position in a Planning Department. I also enrolled in an extended education class on Urban Planning - anything to boost my chances of landing a job.

Finally, after being out of work for 8 months, I got the call! Entry-level, Planner I at the City of Oceanside. When can I start?

I worked at the city for 3 1/2 years before I had Monkey and I loved (almost) every minute of it.

The work was interesting and challenging. I felt like I was also doing something important for my community. Once I got the hang of it, I actually enjoyed the public speaking involved with Planning Commission and City Council meetings. It was rewarding to know that I was helping citizens with their housing projects and businesses. I learned how to manage a project team, how to manage my time, and how to conduct meetings. I found ways to balance the best interest of the public and the goals of developers. I discovered city politics. I met many, many interesting people and I made a lot of friends.

I believe working at the City of Oceanside had a lot to do with my "miss to ma'am" transformation.

As a result, one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make was whether or not to return to work after my maternity leave was up. I had always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but I had found a job, a career, that I loved. I had NEVER thought about being in that position.

In the end, I knew that I could always return to the work force one day, but my children would only be children for a short time. It was with a truly heavy heart that I told my bosses that I had decided not to return to work.

I think about going back to work sometimes, but hopefully not anytime soon. I'm enjoying my time at home with my children. So for now, I just think of what I may want to do in the future. What will I be when I grow up some more? Will I go back into planning? Back to environmental analysis? Back to school to try something different?

Only time will tell.


  1. Time will tell... maybe you'll stay at home a few more years and have more children (you need a girl, right?) or maybe you'll go back to work. Whatever is right for you and your family. The world, though is your oyster! :)

    1. One of the best things about taking time to stay home with the boys (and maybe eventually a girl ;)) has been the ability to reevaluate what I may want to do in the future. The possibilities are endless!

  2. Well, you are rocking your current role! You are an awesome mommy.