Thursday, November 20, 2008

Homeschooling No More: Moving on...

Today I am officially no longer, after 12 and a half years, a homeschooling mother. My youngest son was enrolled in Kindergarten today and, to my surprise, said he would like to start school tomorrow rather than December 1st as we'd been planning.

This huge lifestyle change has been brought about by a fantastic job that has fallen in my lap. I will be supervising staff doing medical research study phone interviewing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. I'm being hired for a 90,000 cohort cancer epidemiology study but the department I'll be in will be growing and, as it expands, I'll be learning each study that we do so I can train and supervise staff for each one. It's a really exciting job for me with great potential for growth and opportunity to learn new things. And it pays well and Vandy benefits are the best (free MTA bus rides! Discount tickets to lots and lots of cultural events! Paid tuition for my children after five years of employment!!!).

How it all went down was this: The project I was doing for the other university ended and there was no work coming up in the foreseeable future. I'd started letting people know that I was kind of beginning to look for a new gig but I hadn't even really decided whether I wanted to work part-time or try to enroll in school (with what money, exactly?). A friend from Friends Meeting works at Vandy and sent me the job description for this job. I filled out the application. Two business days later I got a call from the woman who will be my boss, S___, asking when I can come in to interview. I met with her and the head of the department the next day at which time I was shown where my desk will be and introduced to some of my staff. S___ called a couple of days later to say that what I'm bring to the staff will be experience that they are lacking and so I will round them out. She said they want me, but it was up to human resources to do the background check and then make an offer. Apparently that felony for the palanquin hijacking didn't show up because HR made me an offer of MORE than was in the range of the original job posting. I go in tomorrow to sign my contract and then go through orientation on December 1 and 2. I'll start in my real job the following day.

I keep feeling like I should pinch myself to see if I'm awake. S___ homeschools her teenager and totally understood my spotty work history. My job-before-last was working with families of prisoners--Sara's husband is a probation officer. She's been aware of my former university's reputation for in research interviewing for a long time and so was really excited to have my experience join her team! I feel so validated! I'm quite sure that if I had a college degree I wouldn't have much trouble finding a job. Having no college, though, makes finding meaningful and decently paying work something of a miracle. And I feel a miracle has occurred. My office is on the eighth floor of the building that overlooks Centennial Park, for heaven's sake! A good friend, who homeschooled her children for years and who also now works at Vandy, called to check on me and said: "It's like you're a real adult now!" and I totally know what she means.

Bittersweet are beginnings as they signify, also, an ending. The ending of an era, a very powerful identity, a bond with my children. The beginning of seeing myself as an (dare I say) academic wage-earner. The beginning of having three children in public schools. The beginning of a new autonomy but a much tighter schedule and greater chaos. I am ready for these changes and I welcome them. I think it will be a little hard leaving my little one at school tomorrow (mitigated by the fact that next week is Thanksgiving break and all the kids will be home) but he's excited and so am I. Change is good.


Liz Opp said...

Your news and energy are exciting, Mary Linda! It gives me courage to continue exploring the possibility that I might return to a more traditional job (though part time).

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Jennifer Marchman said...

Your story is amazing!