I’m blocked. Anyone else?

There is so very very much going on in my head and my life and at work that I am blocked. I could use good thoughts or prayers, if you have any to spare.

I know this isn't strictly a parenting topic, but a frequent commenter who maybe doesn't want to be named asked me (just in conversation), "How do I figure out what I want to be when I grow up?"

It's a really good question, isn't it? I think sometimes parents spend so much time being grown up–wiping butts, making meals for people who may or may not eat them, taking people places, putting aside our own needs to make sure others' needs are met–that it's hard to figure out what's next.

If you've figured it out, how did you do it? If you haven't figured it out, how are you coping with not having figured it out?

Free pass for anyone with a kid still in diapers.

84 thoughts on “I’m blocked. Anyone else?”

  1. Such a great topic for me. I have just found out that I am being laid off from my job of 6.5 years. We’re in a new city now, where I have few contacts. And we’re just starting to think about trying for a second baby (our first is 3.5). Amidst all this, I am really struggling to figure out what I want professionally. We can’t afford for me to take time off from working to explore/re-educate, so I think I have to take whatever job I can find it this crappy economy, likely with a pay cut and downgrade in my responsibilities. I feel stuck. I want to become a midwife or lactation consultant, but I don’t see a way to get there from here….Wait 5 or 6 years until the baby we hope to have is a little more self-sufficient and then go for my goals? I’ll be almost 40. Is that too late?

  2. I’ve decided that I don’t have to be just one thing when I grow up (of course, I have the luxury of a spouse with a stable career). I own my own business, which is a reasonable side income (pays for preschool and one big home improvement project/year) but isn’t exactly breadwinner material. So I’ve gone back to school. The goal is to combine two part-time “careers” – both of which I’ll enjoy but maybe don’t want to dedicate my life to – into full-time work as the kids start school. Effectively, I’ll be both a ballerina AND an astronaut. So THERE.

  3. The answer to what I want to be when I grow up: A grown up. I am the person responsible (for it all). I am the decider. My job is to wipe the butts, wipe the noses, make the (uneaten, nutritionally balanced) meals, make the tough calls (about everything). The buck stops here. It is my job to be a constant for the little people. They should think I have all the ansers.So I suppose the real question is how do I know what I want to do to earn the money to take care of myself (and my family, if applicable)? I think most of us just fall into a line of work and we either like it, or don’t. So we stay or we go try something else.
    For example, I’ve been reading Moxie for 6 years, so I know she’s had more than her fair share of different careers and jobs (ESL teacher in a foreign country, professional recipe tester, SAHM, worked in an office where she wore impractical shoes, freelancer of some sort, whatever it is she does now). Each little iteration on the path moved her closer to what she’s doing today. And today’s job might not even be her life’s passion. It might be the combination of passion and money that makes life possible.
    But if you want to cut to the chase and not do trial and error for 10 years, maybe just go take the ASVAB (or go to a career counselor). The ASVAB told me I should do something repetitive with numbers, and it was right.
    And @Iris – It’s never too late, I think the class to become an LC is only about 40 hours long, so you might not need to wait all that long to do it. Once you get the certification though, I imagine building up a career from that is a lot of work.

  4. Moxie,Good thoughts from across the big pond.
    On the other I dunno and that’s all right with me really. In fact I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up by a very advanced nearly three year old on Monday. Not mine own. Ahem. So I said I wanted to be a fireman.
    I have a spouse with a stable career. Well I say that there have been many upheavals and he works with the same people but the company name has changed three times in two years. But presently we have something dangerously like normality there. Knock on wood.
    To keep spouse employed I’ve been essentially the sole caretaker of DD since she was born. She’s not a good sleeper and he’d still not be able to cope with work if he spent nights with her. So we’re doing the separate rooms. And he travels. A lot.
    She’s very allergic so I cook all her food. In other words I’ve not really had a life outside her life for the three years. She’s spirited or active alert whatever the books call it, and she hasn’t napped since 18 months so I get the free pass methinks.
    Until I slipped two disks in my back this January swinging DD around because she missed her daddy which meant I had to hire a sitter to do the medical bit which is still ongoing.
    DD loves the sitter so I’ve had more time off in the last few weeks than ever before. Makes me feel guilty and a truant on the one hand, on the other it’s like being myself again for a bit. Very strange.
    We’re still doing the toilet learning and not making great progress but the idea was that DD would go to Montessori in the afternoons to a nice little pre-school. Need to get the toilet thing down for that to happen.
    My friends have asked about going back to work, or back to school in those three hours. Now there’s the bringing and fetching that will take time away and really I don’t feel like either translating from home again and I really have no idea about what else.That did not get a sympathetic reaction. I don’t think I’m lazy but I am definitely lucky of course.
    But ’tis true. For now I am in the fortunate position to stay home and I’m going to. We need to find a larger place, I need to exercise to get my strength back. Go back to book group. I can grow up later I trust. I hope.

  5. Have you read The Ten-Year Nap? By Meg something? Can’t remember the last name. It’s fiction, but really addresses this question. It made me feel better–I identified a lot with the visual artist who ended up doing charitable administration. I think. I read it a few years ago.Anyway. Good thoughts! I wonder sometimes if I’m sub-conciously prolonging the butt-wiping (metaphor, sort of) because I can’t imagine re-joining the workforce, or in what capacity I’d rejoin it. It’s a reason I sometimes come up with when I wonder why my kids seem more clingy/baby-crying than other kids their age.

  6. I feel like a lot of people are talking about this issue lately, and it’s been on my mind as well.@Iris; that is how I feel too. I would LOVE to work with mothers and babies, but I’m not a nurse and we can’t afford for me to take time off work to get a nursing degree, and from what I see online it looks like (at least in my area) you need a nursing degree to do lactation consulting. Unless you want to open your own business, I guess. I’ve also thought about becoming a doula, but again; I can’t afford to quit my job, and I don’t know where to begin and I need something that brings in at least as much as I make now. Which, granted is only about 15 clients per year at the rates I’ve seen for doulas, but still…it’s all so overwhelming.

  7. Anyone struggling with this question really needs to read Barbara Sher’s Wishcraft (helpfully available in its entirety online – http://wishcraft.com/ ) – it’s very inspiring in its down-to-earth practicality. It really shows you how to make radical (and not-so-radical) changes doable. She has a number of other related books (e.g. I Could Do Anything If Only I Knew What It Was) but this was the one I found by far most helpful.

  8. Sending prayers.I have two kids still in diapers and my problem is that I know what I want to be when I grow up but I am mentally blocked by 1.) not thinking I’m good enough, 2.) the expectations for this self-employment are that I am the category of person who would suck at it, 3.) I actually for real think I suck at the business part of business. So I feel like I have already self-sabotaged my 5 year plan. So that’s a nice little mess I’ve mentally made for myself.

  9. Moxie, good wishes your way.I do and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I find it hard to find time chasing the one dream (novelist). Right now I get a pass ’cause I have a 5 week old (plus a 5 yr old). ๐Ÿ™‚
    And I worry because I’m 40 in a youth-oriented industry (magazine editing) and my husband is in IT, ditto, and so I think I need a more lucrative plan – but I don’t really have one yet. I’d like to own a business but I don’t know what kind, or whether I really have the nerve/temperment for it.
    However, due to my job I do have to say that there definitely is a lot of room after 40 – loads of women make major changes and do amazing things. I’ve spent three years talking to them and it’s not a glossy women’s magazine scam – they really do.
    I do worry about whether I’ll be one of them exactly ’cause of reproducing so late, but it’s sooooo worth it. Or so say the breastfeeding hormones.
    I feel like I kind of wasted my late 20s and early 30s…not wasted per se maybe but a lot of treading water, partly due to dealing with childhood abuse but also due to being complacent about some things. Some days that gets to me.

  10. Today, I told a neighbour’s newly-graduated from college daughter that I wouldn’t go back to being in my early twenties for any price. (Late twenties, sign me up!) The in-between stage is painful with searching and dealing with the pressure of having to start one’s life already, whatever that means.Making your own path in the world isn’t easy and I can’t say that I’ve found mine–there have been many days when I’ve been frustratingly bored with the tasks at work, when I’ve had to cope with long hours with no hope of a bonus or promotion (in-house design at a non-profit). Luckily, I have a job that seems to most people, “creative” and most importantly, somewhat ill-defined, so I occasionally have the chance to do things like 3-dimensional displays as well as the usual brochures and posters.
    I have a degree in English Lit and I used to tell people (maybe too defensively) that what I do now is just communication from a visual standpoint and less of a verbal one. I like what I do now, but I haven’t always and I suspect this will go in cycles.
    I was lost even after I chose to go back to school (although it was the second wisest thing I did in my mid-twenties–the first wisest was deciding not to go to graduate school because it would just be an expensive way to hide from the realities of my life for a few years).
    Luckily, I decided on this path before I met my husband and had kids, so I could just continue on it (even though I’m not famous, or particularly ambitious, or even paid all that well). These days, I barely have the mental space and energy to do my job, much less think about alternatives (with 2 kids, one who is 4 and the other 19mo–yes in diapers, and no, not sleeping a lot), but perhaps I’ll become restless when the youngest turns 5.

  11. And Moxie, good luck with your block. I just finished a big project which sapped a lot of my energy–I like being in the midst of such a project, but only after the initial parameters have been drawn and production is in full swing. Then it’s a letdown once it’s almost/totally finished and onto other things. There’s a lot of internal/external pressure to always be “on” mentally, but sadly, I (and most other people, I suspect) think this is not possible–I need some mental downtime.(I even feel overwhelmed with problems at home now and am playing catch up with that, too.)

  12. I worked out what I wanted to do – I got a job working for a housing association who paid for me to go and do a postgrad course studying housing. I really loved the studying, so wanted to do the dissertation to get my masters and then hopefully go on to do a PhD and go into research.Then I found out I was pregnant. My daughter is 14 months and we’re expecting our second in June. I can’t imagine us having the time or money for me to finish my masters for a few years and I’ve only got another 3 years in which I can top up my PGdip, so I think I will probably have to wave bye-bye to my research career.
    Now I need to come up with a new plan. But I might leave that a year or two.

  13. Here’s my question – is The Ten Year Nap going to make me feel bad about SAHMing if I read it? I am tired the whole “why would you subjugate yourself for your children” thing I’m getting from all quarters lately. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Hi Leah, I’m at home too! And I too occasionally feel like people think I’m an alien from outer space because of it. So I don’t think it will make you feel bad–the author tries to portray her characters without bias, or aligning herself with any of them, and they are across the board in terms of mom-decisions. Go for it!

  15. I was just emailing with a friend about how my life has SO MUCH up in the air right now – how is it that my husband and I are 40 and things are in flux like this?? Crazy. And in my case, kinda liberating.

  16. I loved The 10 Year Nap b/c it hit the range of SAHM feelings and events. It didn’t make me feel bad about my choice.@Iris–Penelope Trunk (blogger) makes a pretty interesting case for “if you’re laid off and want another child, go for it, it explains an employment gap better than anything else anyway.” It sounds a little outrageous but as she points out–there are far less productive ways to spend your time.
    Moxie, I’m blocked too. Thanks for putting a word to it. It’s like a low-level hum in my brain that won’t let me think straight (not literally, but the block is really acting like a distracting hum. Thanks for the reminder I’m not alone, and good luck getting unblocked.

  17. @sueinithaca You and me both. :)I know what I want, getting DH to be supportive is a complicated mess of a mess (I think he is willing but WOW this is out of his skill set).
    I want to do something I can’t find anybody else doing. I want to mentor the lay public in the first 30 days of a life exploding diagonsis (cancer or cilliac or whatever). That crazy frantic time when you don’t understand the system or the language and your are scared out of your mind. Why? Because I am FANTASTIC at doing it and some of my most important moments have been spent doing it.
    BUT, it is hard work, so not all the time. SO I also want to create the physical things that live in my mind. This is kind of my 3rd side job bit.
    STILL, I am really interested in the way we teach clinicans to integrate technology – because we do a lousy job of it. So that is the degree I’m working on.
    I am a revolution … just as soon as short stack gets out of diapers…

  18. Thoughts and prayers to you, Moxie. You have really helped me in so many ways. Thanks for the blog you’ve created and the forum for commenting/conversation.I recently realized that I don’t have to be something just because I am good at it. Which, I think, is a great realization.
    And so I am embarking on a writing career instead of making art – something all my near and dear have always encouraged. I am fortunate enough to have a supportive group of friends and family, so they’re encouraging even without having read my work.

  19. @MemeGRL, Leah, etc: I would LOVE to stay home and have a baby. It’s just not an option since my husband doesn’t make enough money to support our family and I am the one with the health insurance. I have to work, and one of the hardest things about getting laid off is seeing the 10 weeks of sick time I have saved up for maternity leave disappear…. Staying home with kids sounds great. That’s totally something I would do when I grow up, if I could.@Becky: Becoming a doula isn’t very hard–about 16 hours of training to get started. It’s something you can do to feel connected with birth without making a career out of it. I do it on the side on occasion, and it’s wonderful!

  20. You can have all of my spare good thoughts, Moxie! I hope you feel better soon.I’m starting a new job on Monday, and think I’ll really like it, so I’m in a pretty happy place workwise. We’ll see how long that lasts.
    For the “what do I want to be when I grow up” question, the best advice I ever read on that is to think about what you did when you played as a kid that was most work-like. That is probably what would make you most happy. I read this in a book called 168 hours, by Laura Vanderkam. It is more about time management and getting the most from your time, but it had a chapter on career, and that advice really resonated with me. For me, my childhood work-play was organizing information (I used to have files and timelines and what not on whatever topic I was interested in). So that’s a good fit for my career in scientific data management.
    If I had it to do all over again, though, I might aim for “wildly successful non-fiction writer” because I think I’d really enjoy that. I love diving into a new subject and really learning it. I know- it is not too late. But I do have bills and responsibilities now, and the “wildly successful” part would not be instant or guaranteed… so I’m working on a long term plan that will maybe give me more time to experiment in the writing direction. In the meantime, the new job is with a company working in an area of bioscience that I don’t know that much about, so I’ll get to dive in and learn. That should keep me going for a few years at least!

  21. Turning 37 tomorrow and I’m closer to knowing what I want to be when I grow up than ever before. Having lived different places overseas for prolonged periods, I have realized that one thing I really love about being educated in, and a citizen of, the U.S. is that we get to change our minds about our careers a lot more often than most folks around the globe.My doctor-friend always tells me that as long as we use the degrees we earn for twice the number of years it took to earn them, then we’re doing okay. I got an MA in Education Policy (took 1.5 years) that I no longer use (worked in that field for 3.5 years) and a JD (took 3 years) that I’m just starting to use.
    With other lawyers in my family who rued the day they entered the field, I shied away from the profession until my late 20’s. Now, I love being a lawyer but I’m struggling to get my feet back in the game after a 2-year (overseas) hiatus to start a family and a relocation to a new state.
    Luckily, my DH has a stable career so I can use this under-employed period to really steer my own ship. I’m working on a business plan to open up a solo practice and, in the meantime, doing independent contract work for other firms and attorneys in the area. The instability has been psychologically challenging but the freedom and autonomy have been wonderful.
    For those of you contemplating starting a business, check out http://www.score.org. Retired business people volunteer time to provide free and confidential business advice and mentorship. They have local chapters all over the country. I also recommend Nolo Press books available at most libraries, which give easy, step-by-step instructions on creating a business plan, setting up a business entity, and handling self-employment and/or small business tax issues.
    Good luck to you all and @Iris, it’s never too late! Perhaps you can start by connecting with other women who do what you want to do and ask to shadow them a few hours per month. People love to give advice!

  22. Re: Ten Year NapI was so excited to read this book but it was a HUGE letdown. Doesn’t really address any of the issues. Becomes just a summer paperback type of romance story after the first third. Just shows you what marketing can do.
    @Iris –I’m turning 40 and just starting my masters to make a career change. It will take 3 years. It’s never too late, although it is harder when your brain is older ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Oh, ish! I really hope 40 isn’t too late, ’cause that’s right where I’m sitting! Been a SAHM/largely unpublished writer (unless you count my blog – which I guess I don’t, which is another issue to ponder!!) for the last 8 years. My youngest is in 1/2 day K which somehow seems to give me even less time to myself than when she was in pre-k. I can’t really make the math work on that, but it’s true.With a frequently traveling spouse, some weeks are nothing but a blur of meeting everybody else’s needs and forgetting what mine even are. I hope that next year when the youngest is in school full-time I’ll be in a place where I can create more balance. I love being available to my kids, but like some clever writer said recently, “being a good parent doesn’t necessarily mean always loving the act of parenting.” It’s damned hard work no matter what your work life balance or lack thereof. It can tap all your reserves and leave you running on fumes.
    I took a baby step recently and have challenged myself to try to post something every week day. I’m up to 6 days in a row and counting and I think it’s getting easier. Maybe I’m being less precious about it. I’m worrying less every piece and more about the act of writing daily. I’m hoping it will help me build some discipline to use for some more serious writing next fall. Maybe that novel I’ve been brooding over for two years now.
    But I think it’s also important to give yourself permission to be blocked sometimes. Rest up, give the winter blues their due and set your sights on spring.

  24. I said something along those lines within earshot of my 4 year old. She piped up with “You grew up to be my mommy!” sounding all happy and proud of me ๐Ÿ™‚ One of my best parenting moments so far.

  25. I really like your perspective @Tina: “I think having a baby has taught me to loosen up on the “what’s next”. I always had plans – for work, for vacation, for the next house. Now, everything’s so unpredictable… No matter what I do, that doesn’t change. I have to go with it.” AMEN!Pre-kids I was all about maximizing my career options; I harbored a lot of middle class angst and thought if only I could attain economic security, that would make me happy and feeling like I made it. Only later did I realize that money is not the end all, be all. (Duh.) Maybe having a little money helps insulate you from some degree of misery but then again “not being completely miserable” obviously does not equal “being happy and well-adjusted.” There’s so much more to it than that, like finally getting good therapy, and learning how to be in healthy relationships. Now that I’m older I tend to prioritize those items a lot more.
    I’m doing ok. I still have a kid in diapers so I will gladly take that pass, thank you. We have the basics covered for the time being. That’s something. Would I be the envy of former classmates? Hell no. ๐Ÿ™‚ We moved to the middle of nowhere for DH’s job, and mine has taken a backseat – that was my choice, and I own it and am good with it most days. I still work but it is a lot more low key now – not the path I ever could have predicted for myself at age 23, but I have the feeling I am exactly where I need to be right now. I get to see my kids as much I as I need to, and yet I also get enough of a break from them. Can’t ask for much more than that.
    @Shandra – Congrats on the new little one!!
    @Cloud – Good luck on Monday!

  26. I like this topic. At the beginning of the year, I said, I want to pay more attention to my work life – this year and next. I have a newborn and an almost four year old. I teach so it’s kids kids kids all the time and sometimes/often the energy balance isn’t there. I also am realizing that b/c of the nature of my job and my focus on motherhood for the last few years, I feel like I’m less aware of what my skills actually ARE.I feel like I used to know what they are. So, I guess I just want to pay more attention and have started to do that in small steps (again – newborn and preschooler) – reading some, talking with friends, noticing where I feel high energy and where I feel low.
    Best wishes to you, Moxie!

  27. Oh, and I think this is a great parenting topic because parents face such unique challenges when it comes to understanding and acting on what you want. The haze of meeting everyone else’s needs ain’t no joke as far as its impact on one’s self awareness. At least for me.

  28. @TodayWendy, that is awesome.@Cloud – congrats on the new job!
    @Queen of Anon – I loved the 10 year nap as a work of fiction, but not as any kind of help in figuring out what to do with my life. but I LOVE that author’s writing style. Amazing.
    I’ve been in IT for my whole career since grad school, about 12 years now. (yikes!) I was on a pretty good career path, but somewhere along the way discovered I like to *make* things with my hands, and that working 70 hour weeks wasn’t really conducive to that. So now I’m lucky to work in IT part-time and have some time to focus on my creative business, as well as spend several days a week being a SAHM. Turns out I love being at home and am content and happy for maybe the first time ever.
    If I don’t ever go back to a serious career, that would be totally fine with me, but I need to be fair to my spouse too, so at some point I’ll work more and let him have some time to do stuff he likes.

  29. I think, in some cases, trying to decide what you’ll be when you grow up can cut off the experiences you need in order to be what you’re destined to become. Some people just know what they want to beโ€”they’re lucky. Most of us have to figure it out.When I look back at my various jobs “careers” I see that each job gave me a skill I’m calling forth now. However, there were some jobs, that at the time, I thought were crappy or too intense for my life in that moment. I did the job anyway and made the best of it. And now I’m eating humble pie cause I see why I was there.
    I don’t believe that you’re too old to begin any new career! As my friend says, “You’re not dead yet!” I believe in live, love, learn, and keep asking for your passion and destiny to emerge and most of all be patient.
    I know that probably doesn’t help, but today-it’s all I got!

  30. My kid’s still in diapers! :)Actually, for the first time in my life I’m not thinking about what’s next. I love my work, but I’m not going back–not now, and I don’t know when. I’m going to freelance nights and weekends, whenever the work comes my way. But that’s it.
    I think having a baby has taught me to loosen up on the “what’s next”. I always had plans – for work, for vacation, for the next house. Now, everything’s so unpredictable. Baby doesn’t grow like the books say: she’s small for 16 months, she’s got a huge vocabulary, she won’t sleep nights. No matter what I do, that doesn’t change. I have to go with it.
    And so I try to go with it. I’m still breastfeeding, and don’t know when I’ll stop. I’m still cosleeping, and don’t know when that’ll end. The same with work: I’ll freelance until I feel OK with going back to work.
    I’m actually stopping to smell the roses, for the first time in a long time. I just hope I don’t keel over into them from exhaustion…

  31. Such a timely topic for me. I’m exactly in the middle (hopefully nearer to the end) of figuring out what’s next, career-wise. I’ve been on this path for, um, the last 5 years (oh my!). DS is 2.5, so needless to say this began before he was born. But within that time I’ve made a career shift, taken 1 year mat leave, and honestly, just learned a lot along the way.ITA with @Sharon’s comment that ‘When I look back at my various jobs “careers” I see that each job gave me a skill I’m calling forth now.’ Seeing this pattern in my past gives me great confidence in the future, even if I can’t exactly define it at the moment. I actually find it kind of exciting not knowing where I’ll end up career-wise in 10 years (or even next year). Before I took my first job in the company I work for now, I never would have imagined I would be working here. The stuff of dreams and fantasy. And yet. Here I am.
    While I can’t say exactly ‘I want to be X when I grow up’, (though if I could it would probably look more like what @sueinithaca said ‘I’ll be both a ballerina AND an astronaut’โ€ฆI’m not so good at fitting into pre-defined boxes) I can however say that I know what kind of work I need to be doing, with what kind of company, with what kind of people, and using what kind of skills. The hard part is finding it. Eventually I know I will have my own company again, but now is not the time. I just don’t have the energy, I want to give more of my free time to my kid, and we need the financial stability of permanent employment.
    The most interesting thing I’ve realized lately is that motherhood has definitely sharpened my ability to listen to my gut feelings and to act on them. I’ve always had strong intuition and pre-DS I was fairly conflicted about my work situation as I knew I was receiving signals about some things that weren’t right, but I had great difficulty acting on thatโ€ฆpartly because the gut feelings don’t work their way into my head (i.e. move beyond feelings to concrete ideas) as quickly as I would like. Sitting with this (the feeling that something was not right), but not exactly being able to define that something was excruciating for me. I felt too scared to act on it.
    But, enter motherhood. I think I’m just plain too tired and too busy now, that NOT listening to my gut feelings and acting on them is not an option. I’m much more likely now to make a calculated guess about what to do, and then act on it than I was before when I would over-obsess about understanding every angle before making a decision.
    What’s helped me get closer to knowing what my next step is, is having a bunch of information lunches/meetings with people I think I might like to work with or people working in an area of the business I think I might like to work in. I kind of expected the meetings just to be networking for potential positions, but I’ve had some very candid conversations with a few people and it’s helped remind me about what I love to do vs. being tired with my current job, with my current boss, in my current department and/or company. Two totally different things. Overall I just feel more confident in saying ‘No, that job/boss/company/working culture/schedule’ is not the right fit for me. Of course, this narrows options a lot. But all I need is one fit.
    And finally, I realise that I get the ‘free pass’ considering DS is still in diapers (though hopefully not for long!), but I find it so hard to adhere to the free pass concept for myself. I admit it was easier before the layoffs & restructuring in our dept as my job was more laid back then, than it is now, and I had a boss who was very flexible. It was easy to coast from the career-development POV. But now that we’re insanely busy (and well, doing the work that used to be done by a lot more people) it’s SO hard to carve out time to advance my career (which is what I need to do now).
    @Cloud, Congrats on the job! Hope it’s everything you’re looking for, and more.
    @Wilhelmina, Oh, we feel your pain. DS is potty training now, and he’s been accepted into a Montessori pre-school in Sept. But if he’s not potty trained, it’s a no go. Ugh. The pressure. Oh, and we have a similar situation in that it would be a 30 min drive to and from the daycare…in the opposite direction of my work! I hate commuting.

  32. I forgot to say- @sueinithica, I loved your line about being an astronaut AND a ballerina! I think my long term plan has me combining things, too. But then, I may love my new job so much that I stay there 10 years- who knows? (In my field, it is fairly normal to have to change companies ever 2 years. 5 years is considered a long run.)@Wilhelmina, @the milliner- OMG, did we have a long road on potty training. But we’re pretty much there now- nights and all. The turning point came when we stopped reminding/asking/etc, required her to change out of her own wet clothes, and gave her a small treat (a gummy bear) every time she went potty (accident or no). About a week of that and our problems pretty much went away. I have no idea if this will work in general, or if our long road before that was a necessary part of the process…. but I offer it mostly as an example of “yes, you WILL get there”!

  33. i’ve just started back to work with my little girl at almost four months. i love what i do, but realize that part of what it gives me is a sense of competency that I have been grasping for ever since she’s been born. somehow, being back at work i can succeed in helps me to weather the uncertainty of child-rearing. now that I am a mother, my “what i want to do when i grow up” seems to be more about finding a creative outlet. with so much going to work-child-marriage-house i’m craving the chance to create things on my own terms whether it’s gardening or textiles.

  34. Timely question for me too. I have a PhD, but I’m not really using it right now – working part time doing project management with a 2.5 and 4.5yo. In the past few years I’ve realized that what I would really love to do is be a reproductive endocrinologist – but that is such a long road I don’t know if I can start it at this point (just turned 37 and don’t see myself starting med school until my youngest is in school, at least – and we’re trying for another kid at the same time). So I’m trying to think of other things I could do that might give me the same sense of fulfillment as helping people make babies. I often feel like I’m wasting my education and brain – love being home with my boys at the same time though. I want it all, but don’t feel like I can get there.And I *really* think that it stinks that we have to make so many choices that define our older selves when we’re too young to know any better! I know that people CAN change careers later on, but it’s so much harder than getting it right sooner. I really wish I’d done an MD instead of PhD – but I thought at the time I didn’t want to deal with patients. Changed my mind but I’m afraid its too late.

  35. A couple of book ideas . . .Po Bronson’s What Should I do with My Life? is a collection of his interviews with a lot of people describing many ways they went about trying to answer this question. Even if you only get a chance to look through the Table of Contents, the subtitles for each chapter are pretty useful.
    Mary Catherine Bateson’s Composing a Life, maybe. She and her friends are a very rarefied group (very successful, some academics, some with high-power-career husbands), but I think she does a good job describing ways in which these women took an active approach to figuring out their next steps, when their original plans got changed (e.g., relocation for spouse’s job, etc.)
    Yesterday my 4 year old told me I should go to work every day, even on the weekends (currently I work 3 days, and she’s in preschool those days) – so I could make more money. So we could buy more things. I asked where she would be if I were working every day – would she want to be at school all 5 days? She said she would just stay home with Dad. (As if . . . )
    I read somewhere about comparing changing to being suspended between 2 trapezes. Leaving something behind but not yet having arrived at the next. I like the sense of courage this conveys!
    Sending thoughts of strength to those who aren’t “there,” yet.

  36. I’ve dealt with this question several times, with varying degrees of introspection. After my last layoff I used the book “What Color is Your Parachute” which has a guided process for working out what things you like to do, can do, and want to do to help you find your way to a profession. For me it clarified that architecture was what I should be doing, but that I also need to be doing other related things as well. And those are things I’m trying to work into my company’s focus. That process also got me to start my own company since the local employment market sucks.And ditto for “What Should I Do With My Life”. Reading about how other people have struggled with the question opened some new angles on the process for me.
    But none of this would be happening if the kids weren’t at school and out of the house most of the day.

  37. How timely. It’s my 28th birthday today, and I have been struggling with this question/concept for a while now. The contract I work on will expire in September of this year (it was a 5 year contract). I may get picked up in the new contract, but it’s too early to know. I feel like I am competent in my job, but that I could do so much more, if I set my mind to it. The atmosphere is high stress, and the new contract will likely be more of the same. The pay is good, though and since DH is unemployed, I have to keep that in mind. I’d like to continue my education, but taking that step (and adding that to a full-time job, 2 kids, and a DH) seems daunting.Since I no longer have a kid in diapers, I guess I better figure this out!

  38. Well I’m in the happy position of knowing what I want to be when I grow up and actually being it. The downside is that it means I can’t live in the same town or even state as my husband, and we have two in diapers. I’m almost 40, and I don’t have a stable address, own a home, have much in retirement, etc, because the commute and professional instability drain all those things away. The children are moved all the time and the older one has lived in more address than he is years old (and that includes different child care situations as well). We’re struggling to end the instability, but it’s very difficult, because it might mean one of us having to give up our dream jobs. So it’s stressful and sad lately. This month has really been the pits.@Wilhemina & the milliner – me three with the Montessori preschool/toilet training September deadline! Though we’ve been so overwhelmed and dragging our feet about this, I’m hoping the deadline will help us!

  39. Oh, I started to write this whole long thing about my career, where I am, etc, etc, blah blah. Deleted it, closed the browser. Came back to say: it’s never too late to enact change. Never, never, never. I’m not saying it’s easy, it’s sure not, but it’s never too late.And I’m saying that as much for myself as for anyone else here!

  40. My husband’s career has been a straight line – math geek gets PhD and becomes a professor. No diddling, second guessing, back stepping, or wondering.Mine has hopped around like a drunken frog. And now that I’m a SAHM my professional contacts are fading away and my business brain has been overtaken by parenting philosophies and preschool evaluations.
    While I don’t have a great solution, I have been making a concerted effort to expand my horizons through networking (both online and off). When my whole life is other SAHM types its hard to see the world as anything other than a big collection of sniffly kids.
    The solution? Well at least for NOW I’ve been going to a few local business events and actually some online (yes its a little strange but it seems to sort of be working). My only goal is to see what other people out there are doing. I have generic business cards (just name and email) and I explain that I’m primarily a SAHM who is curious to see what others are up to. Maybe some conversation will spark an idea? Maybe I’ll make a new friend? And maybe someday when my kids are older, one of those friends will turn into a boss, business partner, etc.?
    I’ve been forcing myself to do this about once every few months and I keep expectations low. So far its been a pleasant surprise in that I come back from every one feeling surprisingly refreshed. And if that is the only benefit to going, its a worthy one.

  41. @Alexis, that’s genius! I love the business card and the plan to just get out and talk.@sueinithica, I love the ballerina/astronaut path. For me as a kid, it was horse jockey and ballerina, which didn’t really pan out. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I changed careers at age 30 from a newspaper editor to a university career counselor, then after three years in that field I decided to be a SAHM. Then a year ago, when my daughter finally started sleeping a little more and I felt somewhat human, I started a career counseling biz, taking a few clients on weekends. Now I’m expecting baby #2 in a couple weeks (gah!) I’m a little nervous about handling two. Thank goodness for your site, Moxie.
    One of my favorite books that I go back to is Hand Me Down Dreams by Mary H. Jacobsen. It’s a little old (1999), but you can usually find used copies on Amazon. Anyway, it goes into detail on how our family histories influence career decisions without our even knowing. It’s always gotten me unstuck when I’ve been stuck. I like rereading it now that I have a daughter.
    I think the other way I’ve gotten out of a stuck place is realizing that I’m beating myself up over liking something that I “shouldn’t.” I realized pretty early in my maternity leave that I wanted to stay home full time with my daughter, but I found the decision agonizing. I had so many hangups about staying home, and so many people told me I had invested too much in my career change to leave the job.
    But I always seem to be doing things people tell me not to do. I majored in comparative religion in college and took a lot of heat for it, but then it ended up getting me my first job as a newspaper reporter, because they needed someone who knew religion for their religion section. Loved my major, and for a long time I loved newspapers.
    Now I’m loving being at home with my little girl, expecting my second kid in a little under two months now, and doing some work on the side, hopefully building the biz slowly. Sure, some weeks are a mess, but somehow it’s all working for now.
    I try not to think of what I want to be when I grow up, and just think about what I want to try next. Emphasis on the try, because I tend to freak myself out about failure. Once I sit down and give myself some privacy to read and reflect, I’m usually able to shut down the critics (many just in my own head), and move forward with another change in life. I also recite in my head the old saying, “feel the fear and do it anyway,” cheesy as that sounds as I write it.
    But I think for me personally it’s this fine balance of research, talking to people doing things I think are cool, and then finding some privacy in a world where everyone seems to want to tell you what to do (and what not to do). Not to mention trying to filter out all the career “advice” out there so I can hear myself think.
    And I think a mom in my mom’s group had it right when she said, sometimes you just have to mentally shout “f** em” and do it. We’ll see how it all turns out. Some weeks are a mess, but thanks to your site, Moxie, I’ve lived through two years of parenthood with a girl who hates sleep (hates it!!), so there may be hope for me yet. Plus, now I have a free pass!! (we still haven’t worked out this whole potty-training thing.

  42. Barbara Sher is AMAZING! She has many great books, but I recently picked up “it’s only too late if you don’t start now: creating a second life at any age” and LOVE it. It really speaks to the concept of there being a shift at around 40, and although I still have small children (3 year old) instead of a teen ager at this point, it MAKES. SO. MUCH. SENSE.Of course 2+ years of therapy have help to reconfigure my self esteem and deal with family issues that have me primed and ready for this book…

  43. great topic! first of all, good thoughts and all blessings of this time to you Moxie.I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, but I do know where I want to go next. I’m UX researcher (subspecialist creative/geek basically), and I’m lucky to have a good 3/4 time job at a small consulting firm. (Well, theoretically 3/4 time anyway.) I want to push my professional work in the direction of improving *public* experiences, and the citizen experience more than commercial ones and the user experience if that makes sense. I’m turning 40 this year and I want to use my powers for good, not just for sales. I’ve been reaching out to people and have been thrilled to discover that the reputation I’ve built over the past 4 years of consulting means many people will take my calls. Cool. I also *need* to answer my muse and be out in the world as a poet. But I’m not very interested in the poetry establishment right now, or the MFA path. I want to reach a broader audience, and write about things that are somewhat “off limits” for poetry – like technology itself. I just had a coaching session with a yoga teacher/friend who’s one of my big supporters, and we had a big talk about just putting it out there, not waiting to perfect things, publishing whatever I do via Twitter. Not perfecting is pretty deep work for me, but that’s part of not walling poetry off in literary journals, which is really important to me.
    Basically I want to become more myself, and publicly so.
    @heather, very interested in what you’re doing with clinicians and tech – right in my field. ping me at the email address you’ll find on my linked website if you’d like to talk about it ๐Ÿ™‚

  44. @Meredith (when she talks about family history defining your career path without you noticing it) reminds me of something I read. It was something like First-Generation college graduates (of which I am one) tend to get degrees in very tangible professional training type things: nurse, accountant, engineer, computer programming, teacher, etc. Not a lot of Poli Sci or Art Theory for the first generation college grads.So, if you were feeling compelled into a certain career path, it might be because there were certain cultural or familial expectations of using your degree.
    I want to point out that there are a lot of jobs out there that people don’t even think about.
    We all know about doctors and nurses, but what about the people who handle the insurance inquiries or the billing for the doctors or nurses?
    We know about ballerinas, but how about the theater manager who is responsible for light bulbs, costume racks, front office ticket selling, janitorial contracting, maybe even grant writing?
    We know about construction workers, but what about the person who estimates the quantity of and orders the asphalt?
    There are a lot of behind-the-scenes jobs that you might not know about. So if there is an industry that you like but aren’t sure your skills are applicable to get your foot in the door, think about the support services.
    For example, I get purchase orders from customers and determine whether my company can fulfill them, and if so, how to go about doing so (for a very technical product). I’m not in sales; I don’t actually performing the manufacturing. I’ve done almost this exact same thing at 4 companies, so I know it’s not a fluke. It’s a job you would pretty much never even know existed if you didn’t know. This job/careeer is perfect for me. It’s what I always wanted to do without even knowing.

  45. Iโ€™ve been a mostly full-time adjunct professor for almost ten years now. I have a ten-year-old, and a 14-month old, and I think a lot about reinventing myself. In fact, there are times when I wonder if I wanted to have the second one BECAUSE of my feelings about being blocked. Moxie didnโ€™t have to say it: one in diapers = a pass for me. (Itโ€™s a good thing that he turned out to be so much fun and that I have an amazing nanny to help out when Iโ€™m at work.) The problem is that it is hard to know where to start. I am over 40, so when I talk about wanting to embark on a new job, I worry about coming across as quixotic or a malcontent. My students get internships, network, apply for fellowships, but what is a 40+ year old with a tween and a toddler to do? For that matter, how do I decide what to do in the first place? How do I get over my feelings of self-consciousness and take that question seriously?Our culture tells us that our identity hinges on how we spend our working hours. We start asking our kids what they โ€œwant to be when they grow upโ€ before they are even out of kindergarten. In other words, we send them the message that work is incredibly important and that it is supposed to be fulfilling. Of course, a large percentage of jobs are just jobs. They arenโ€™t fun. They pay bills. So here is something else that I worry about: are we setting our kids up for disenchantment? I still remember my first year out of college โ€“ summer arrived, but of course, I still had to go to work. What a shock. No wonder I started planning my escape (graduate school). At any rate, thanks Moxie, for your blog post. Iโ€™m new here, and I can already see that your blog (and its readers) are a great resource.

  46. @Charisse – I’ve been following you on twitter for your haikus, but I hadn’t realized that was you until just now since it’s a different name. I’m so excited to make the connection.

  47. I’ve been reading the book 48 Days to the Work You Love and while it’s taking me a lot more than 48 days to get through the book, it IS prompting me to think about my goals for my life and re-evaluate my “traditional” thoughts about work/career/self-worth. It’s worth a read through, just for the thought-provoking sections on evaluating your strengths and turning them into a career.

  48. Thanks for the hall pass Moxie! I’ve had the “what am I gonna be, OMG…” anxieties since I was twelve. They got super crazy in my early twenties after college. English major working very blue collar jobs.Fast forward to white collar office job and felt out of my element, frantic, bored, glazed and chubby as a doughnut.
    Now I am back in a blue collar profession, one that does not make Asian parents proud, married to a man who is the character behind many a Springsteen song. My year old son will be the child of parents who get their hands pretty dirty. It’s not the life I expected, but I’m blessed.
    I really, really want to study to be a nurse. I took a course and it was just plain hard going to school and nursing, bouncing, and nursing my spirited, hard to sleep boy.
    So I’m gonna take the pass for now, trying to find peace with that. I think that 2012 is my year for school. Just hoping I’m still clutching my dream then.

  49. If anyone is still reading out there (hellloooo!)…I’m sort of blocked because there is pretty much one thing I’ve always wanted to do, have done it (writer/journalist) and now I see that field fading away. I talked with an old journalism prof of mine and he essentially equated journalism these days with going to New York to be an actor and waitressing….like THAT’S how you make a living as a journalist now, or work 60-70 hours a week for a site like Patch. Yikes. I had a good job blogging which I lost when they went all staff, and all local staff (I’m in Michigan, they’re in NYC). That good job made me realize two things: I actually like feeling like I am contributing financially in a significant way, and I really, really don’t like being primarily on mom duty all the time, but I don’t want to work so much I never see my kids. I don’t really want to do anything else, and the things I think I could do without wanting to shoot myself every day are all shrinking fields as well. I feel not so much blocked as stalled. Plus, the last couple times this happened something broke for me and I ended up doing something I liked more than my job before. This time….nothing. I think it’s time to call it a career and just get a job, whatever job, but I’m so used to really loving what I do that doing whatever job would be even more demoralizing than it normally would.Signed, Amy RayofFrickinSunshine in Motown

  50. @AmyinMotown – I wonder if you could do something similar but different. Maybe use your writing skills for PR work or in-house publishing or maybe one of the new media ventures. Perhaps those are things you don’t like. I’m not sure, but maybe there is something similar but different… related but not totally dying.Or just get a job that sounds somewhat good and see where it leads you. With the way life over here has sped up (really, my kid is almost 6), you could probably work somewhere for 2 years before you really even noticed it.

  51. @Cloud, out of curiosity, exactly how long was your potty-training road? I wonder if the reason it is taking a while with DS is because we’re not putting in the effort we need to. But as you said, it’s hard to know if it’s just the time it takes or if it’s something you can have an effect on.@Erin & @Wilhelmina, maybe we need a potty-training support group? ๐Ÿ™‚
    @Charisse, oh how I hear you on this: ‘we had a big talk about just putting it out there, not waiting to perfect things’. In the past year and a half I’ve really been focusing on this exact thing for my creative work (and even work in general).
    Amazingly, being back from maternity leave really helped in my case. I didn’t have time anymore to perfect and/or re-think things. In the end it ended up being a blessing in disguise as I figured out that I had been holding myself back pre-DS by working things too long (therefore increasing the chance that I would not put it out there) or by spending too much time worrying (albeit subconsciously) about reaction to what I put out there. That whole fear of failure thing (and the need to perfect as you pointed out). It has a strong grip on me. Needless to say it’s an on-going battle to find the balance between perfecting and holding back too much. But, I must admit, that every time I put something out there without hesitating too much, it gives me more confidence to do it the next time. Going to look for you on Twitter now. Everyone needs more haiku in their lives!

  52. We just moved from the town we believed we’d raise our children in, after only being there 2 short years. We’re unpacking into a great house, but are finding out gradually (from the neighbors, and personal experience) that our landlord is….unstable, to say the least. He had a shouting match with someone in front of the house the other day – one so extreme the moving truck driver nearly called 911.I’m trying to keep the faith and just BELIEVE that this house is going to be a blessing to us and that it’s where we’re supposed to be for the long haul here, but it’s hard to feel settled when you aren’t confident that your landlord isn’t going to pull the rug out from under you for whatever bizarre neurotic reason…
    This is our first “grown up house” – one that actually fits our family’s needs (ie: baby not sleeping in master closet). And everything would be dreamy if the landlord wasn’t kinda freaking me out.
    I’m a total homemaker at heart, and really settled about my identity there. And it makes me SO MAD that I am “blocked” and off kilter because I don’t really feel secure where I am; don’t really feel like it’s MY home.
    I really need it to feel like home, because I am desperately homesick for the place we left, even with the too-small house. ::sigh::

  53. Good topic, I’ve only JUST figured out what I want to do, after 11 years of trying to figure it. I left my last career (11 years ago) and tried so many, many different things to no avail. I have two kids 4 and 1 and finally realised I want to be a midwife!I have thought about this for a long time and kept just ignoring it as I thought ‘well everyone wants to be a midwife after they have a baby’. But they don’t I’ve discovered, lots of friends say ‘I couldn’t think of anything worse’. I’m a SAHM which I ‘should’ enjoy, but I am just getting more and more frustrated. Especially now I know what I want to do. (It’s haunted me for so long!)
    It was just a flash of inspiration, and then I started crying, and getting super excited (and scared) at the same time. For me, that’s how I know it’s ‘right’. Also thinking about everything I’ve done, my personality and strengths and I realised I was working towards this forever! (Also I love that in NZ the average age of a midwife is 45 I think, so I will be right there when I start!)
    I have done all the research about what it involves and it’s a hard course. What I don’t know is how I am going to do the course (that’s the had part, after that you can go part-time). The course work I know I will figure out a way to do, it’s childcare I’m worried about. They say the hard part is figuring out what you want to do. I think it’s actually going to be equally as hard to figure out how to get there (just may not take as long).
    Also I don’t want to start the course when my son is so young, so what I’m doing is reading text books between now and maybe when he’s 3 so at least I have some kind of clue.
    It’s just so hard when you FINALLY figure out what you want, and then know that you also are so responsible for your own kids and don’t want them to suffer while you go after it. My daughter says (in response to me saying ‘what do you think of me being a midwife?’) she says ‘No, you’re a mum, you can’t be a midwife. You have to be home with me!’ Great.

  54. @the milliner, I don’t know if this will comfort you or scare you, but I think it took us the better part of a year. At the beginning of last year, Pumpkin seemed to potty train in a week or two, both at home and at day care. But then… she started having accidents at home. Eventually, she started having accidents at day care, too. We were lucky in that once we figured out that she needed privacy to poop on the potty, all the accidents were pee… but still, at the worst it was 8 accidents a day. It was horrible. We’d tried all sorts of rewards systems, we’d tried not making a big deal out of it- nothing was really working. I googled, decided she was a potty refuser, and we decided to try the system I described above. One weekend, we went cold turkey. If she peed her pants, she had to change them. We had some amazing screaming tantrums that weekend, but then things just started going better. Finally, when my parents were staying with us over Christmas, she came out and asked if she could stop wearing pull ups to sleep in. I gulped and said yes. And she has never had an accident in bed. (Knock on wood.) Accidents during the day are now rare, too, and caused by the typical things, like having so much giggly fun getting pulled super fast in the wagon with her sister that she pees her pants.So, a long, messy story, but a happy ending!

  55. @Charisse, you should check out one or more of my cousin Dave Bonata’s blogs…he is a poet who has built? tapped in? to what seems like a large online poetry community. http://www.vianegativa.us is his main blog, and he “Twitters” (think he uses a different service) at http://www.morningporch.com. Some of your thoughts about the closed-off nature of the poetry establishment sound a lot like something he’d say. ๐Ÿ™‚

  56. Thanks for this topic – and good wishes to you, Moxie. It helps to see what others are thinking (and doing).I’m 40, with a 4 year old and a 16 month old. I have 2 MAs (Art History from 1995, Archives from 2005), nether of which I’ve used in any way that helps with jobs. I’d like to have work I think of as significant, but I’m feeling paralyzed about what to do next.
    My spouse is in a lucrative field that he loves, so I’m hoping I am lucky enough to be able to wait to sort it out when the smaller person goes to preschool.

  57. I found my dream job when I was 50! And everything I did up to that time was great preparation, but I just couldn’t see how it was all going to play out. So, have your kids, do what you have to to keep food on the table, and don’t be afraid to try something different from time to time. Especially, let your kids see you seeking, trying, changing – because they will need to know these skills, too. My 30-something daughters watched both of us parents through lots of changes and have become remarkably resilient women. Can’t take all the credit, but I regret nothing. As the hobbit said, “Not all who wander are lost.”

  58. I feel like I’m in the same boat, too. Here’s my story:I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up but decided in HS that being a music teacher was something I would be good at and required a lot less effort so I went with it. I completed my degree and taught for 1.5 years. I hated it. I woke up every day wondering what excuse I could use not to go to work. So I quit. I went back to school to work on the pre-reqs for med school. In the middle of being a full-time student and working three part-time jobs, I managed to get pregnant. This changed my perspective on everything. If I kept the baby, I would be a single mother. I didn’t have a career that I loved and knew that the one I wanted would take so much work to make happen. So I settled and worked in a daycare to make ends meet. I finished the pre_reqs for school and decided med school was out. The time commitments were too great if I wanted to raise my son. I decided to be a Physician Assistant. Half the school without a residency and still get the patient interaction and care.
    And then my son was born and my life changed again. I went back to work after 8 weeks and was miserable. I did the math after I started getting child support and realized that my entire paycheck was going to daycare. So I quit. Again. I am now a SAHM to a beautiful, smart and funny 21 month old. I am lucky to have part time jobs that pay a lot for the time I put in. PA school has been put on the back burner for the moment. I can’t afford to have to move away from my family, put my son back into full time daycare and pay for tuition and living expenses. But the biggest reason is that I love spending so much time with my son. I love to see how he learns new things everyday.
    I’ve set a timeline for myself. Once my son goes to Kindergarten, I will go back to school. I don’t think I want to be a SAHM mom forever, but I also NEVER imagined that my life would turn out how it has. I’m as happy as I ever dreamed I would be. I’m doing what I love at the moment and have a future to do something else that I love when I have the time and money. And that’s enough for me right now.

  59. I went back to work for a library degree/started my first professional career at 40something, once the kids were in high school. That’s worked really well for me, but before that my self-confidence was really low, being overeducated and having nothing to show for it. But you can re-create your life.

  60. I want to be my husband (who is currently a stay at home Dad to our 9 month old son)…and my husband wants to be me (the breadwinning career person).Just found your blog tonight. Great great conversation. And many answers found already.

  61. @ Cloud, thank you so very much for sharing your story on the potty drama. It makes me feel very much better. And also very encouraged. Thank you! Like Pumpkin our little girl seemed to make this flying start to the gaining of continence and then it turned just plain awful. I now see light at the end of the tunnel that’s no oncoming train.And a big Congratulations ! on the new job. I also hope that it will work out wonderfully and be what you want it to be.
    @ the milliner and Erin a support groups sounds good (-; Well perhaps not. I never realised just how inhibited and pained I was as the bodily functions part of child rearing until this rather sodden phase. Pet accident cleaner is the tops for carpets, clothing and hard floors. But oh, the emotion.
    Having been served a bowel movement moulded into a cake shape on the toy tea set plate with the hearts on it I felt more queasy than with the awful morning sickness of pregnancy. Ugh.
    Bet nobody wants me in the support group now.
    On the Hand Me Down issue I’ve worried that actually I am really enjoying being a ” wife and mother” at this point. Because my mother was a middle class SAHM, and my grandmother, and my great grandmother. Am I really falling in with expectations? Hmm. My guess is this won’t last and I’ll be back to finding my own way with work again soon. Sounds a book I should buy…….

  62. @Sharon@proactiveparenting– Exactly– I try to keep the “it’s the journey, not the destination” mentality in mind when I’m in a place that I’ve realized is not right. Nothing is a waste of time unless you allow yourself to fall asleep at the wheel; there’s something to be learned in every situation. Realizing what you *don’t* want to do is also incredibly valuable.I am 34 years old and in the 23rd grade ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve spent most of my life in school (alternating with a few bouts of miserable work experiences) trying to figure out what I want to do. Now I’m 1-2 years away from finishing my PhD and I finally feel I’m on the right path. I haven’t found my professional passion per se– but I know what I’m good at, what type of work I like to do, what skills I have and what type of work environment I want. I may never have a job that I feel is so wonderful it’s not like work at all, but I think I’ve finally figured out enough to find a job I like well enough that allows me to live the life I want when I’m not at work.
    A very wise man once said to me, “People always try to choose their careers based on the meta-characteristics like the industry or the desire to make a difference or the money. To be happy in a job, all that actually matters are the answers to the questions ‘what exactly are you doing every day?’ and ‘with whom exactly are you doing it?’.” He said this to me after I had some shockingly horrible work experiences in the non-profit sector (who know nominal altruists could be such schmucks?). I’ve realized he’s right– within reason, of course– I don’t think I’d be happy working for a weapons manufacturer no matter how nice the people or how interesting the day to day tasks. But my perspective has shifted toward finding the work environment where I click with the people and where the work I am personally doing is interesting to me. I’ve realized, for example, that I do best with structured tasks and goals– in essence, project work rather than the type of job where one is just responding and putting out fires on a day to day basis. I’ve realized I need an environment where rigor, quality and facts are emphasized over speed or political concerns. I’ve also realized it’s very important for me to have good mentorship and having a boss who is unwilling to spend any time giving me guidance and feedback is a deal breaker for me. But I never would’ve realized those things without all the bad work experiences I had.
    I know a few people who’ve always known what they wanted to do and just done it (my husband, for example– was always into computers, studied computer science and has always worked in the IT industry and been happy). However, the vast majority of people I know spend their 20’s and 30’s trying on a lot of different careers. One of the most successful, smart women I know didn’t hit her professional stride until she was 40 (she’s now 50 and a big wig in her field). Another Mom I know is beginning a writing career in her late 30’s (after having been a ballerina and a researcher). I also know women who spent their 20’s and 30’s building kick ass careers, but now they wish they’d started thinking about kids earlier. Life is full of trade-offs, but it’s never too late to change.
    Finally, in regards to whether someone should take a leap to train for a new career, I personally wouldn’t want to regret not following my true passion (assuming I had found it). If you’re really great at something and have a real passion for it, you can definitely find a way to make a living it at it. In my experience, people who are following their passion tend to be better at what they do than people who are just in their job for the money or because they didn’t know what else to do. So if you actually do know what you want to do (e.g. midwife or lac cons.), go for it! Life is too short not to!

  63. first time comment…I’m totally blocked but mine’s still in diapers. And I was blocked before he was born, so whatever… ๐Ÿ™‚
    Moxie, I’m surprised no one suggested this, but why don’t you write a parenting book? Take your advice from over the years and publish it. It would be great–I would always know what to get people for baby gifts!!

  64. Oh yes, the oh so familiar mommy is stuck feeling. I have three year old twins and a one year old and last spring when I felt really trapped I spoke with a life coach. It was a 6 month process but Oh Man did it make a difference. It was empowering and helped me gain tools to get me out of the stuckness of my current phase of mothering. I was challenged to learn more about myself (or deal with the things I was avoiding), which was essential for me to move forward. A LOT of people use life coaches for direction in career and I know three coaches personally that I would love to direct you to. Let me know.Alison

  65. I’ve made a lot of false starts with respect to my “career.” I started in the business world, stayed there for a few years. I left the business world for grad school with the intention of becoming clergy, finished grad school and fled from the clergy path right around the time of Kid #1’s birth. I continued teaching VERY part-time after Kid #1’s birth and found that I really enjoyed that, found it immensely rewarding for my spirit – until recently. So I fell into the first truly meaningful work, and I’m starting to fall out of sync with that now that I have 2 kids.Where will I go from here? I spent the past year fretting and figuring, going to therapy, meeting with a spiritual director, thinking about what I liked/didn’t like, what I am good at/horrible at. It was definitely not an organized process! My current plan is to prepare to apply for PhD programs in Hebrew Bible, which sounds random until you know me better. ๐Ÿ™‚
    How did/do I cope? I try to live in the moment and remember that I’ve learned from every job and school experience in some way. I’ve tried to realize that figuring it out maybe isn’t quite as urgent as I thought but actually doing it once I figure it out might be.
    I don’t know if this is helpful, but I wanted to share another journey in progress and some of my process.

  66. I’m one of the lucky people that always knew what they wanted to be. There can be downsides to that, practically speaking, though. I knew I wanted to be a novelist, and I have consistently prioritized that, despite the financial implications of that choice.The narrative of my life has been built around two things: I always knew I wanted to be a writer, and I always knew I wanted kids. I made both happen, and I’m proud of myself for that. Tired and financially anxious, but proud.
    Also, @cloud, now following you on twitter. Lovely haikus…

  67. @Cloud, I think your details on potty training both comfort AND scare me ;). I like a lot of details, so this helped a lot. Thanks.@BlueBirdMama, “To be happy in a job, all that actually matters are the answers to the questions ‘what exactly are you doing every day?’ and ‘with whom exactly are you doing it?’.” Oh yes. Completely.

  68. Moxie, it must be in the air….And I thought I was having some kind of mid life crisis and have been fearful to even tell anyone about it. I’m 44, soon to be divorced, mother of a 4 year old, and I’m bored with my work/career. In fact I’m bone tired of it and watching those around me that I work with being passionate and dedicated to something that I can not be is becoming demoralizing. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! Except that I am grown up and now I don’t have the luxury of the time, money and a spouse to support me in finding my passion. Why didn’t this happen when I was “happily” married? May be I was too busy helping him find his.It’s hopeful to read how others have got through this period and have found a job or career that they love – even at 50!

  69. @themilliner: I’m using one of those “3 day potty training” techniques – and yes, I paid for it. We waited way too long. I think the little firefighter could have been trained ages ago, but we’ve been too overwhelmed. Now he’s nice and willful. I’ll report back! And yes yes yes to the support group!

  70. @Erin, Well, as much as I’ve read, the wisdom seems to be that *both* the kid and the parents need to be ready. It totally sucks when you’re kid is ready and you are in the middle of overwhelming stuff. That’s exactly how potty training started for us. But the way I look at it, we have no choice. We can only do so much in a day. Feel free to email me for the support group ๐Ÿ™‚ suzanne[dot]sixdegrees[at]gmail[dot]comAnd @Wilhelmina, you’re always welcome to join us.

  71. as i approach the age of 35 this year, i have been beating myself up over the fact that i don’t have any direction. i’m glad to see here that i’m not the only one – and maybe to realize that we’re not even supposed to have it all figured out by this point???

  72. I just finished the audio vresion, and Marguerite Gavin does a splendid job, even with all of the difficult place names (as least as far as I can tell).The book is wonderful, but I regret to see the death of one of the characters I love.One correction Kate cannot have a 3/4 ton Ranger because there is no such thing. The Ranger is a mini-truck. A 3/4 ton is going to be an F250.Please bedevil St. Martin to hasten in releasing your older backlist in audio or kindle format. I know the Macmillan group has been playing games with Amazon.com, but there must be some adults still retaining sense in the place. Thank you for being a reliable favorite among my pet authors.Pat

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