Just tricking, I do not have a brilliant career. I am a 43 year old single mother with not a single career in sight. And how, you might ask, does a woman get to the middle of life in this day and age without a proper job? Gather round children, and I will tell you.
When I was in Year 11 at school our career advisor took us to the offices of the local newspaper to scope out careers in journalism. It was night time, the offices were bright and bustling, and everyone everywhere was peddling words. I thought I had found my spiritual home.
But somehow, after school I vaguely drifted off to university and studied English Literature for four years. I enjoyed this immensely. I learned how to think critically, a skill which has stood me in great stead all my life. I learned how to write without frilly adjectives (ha, that didn't stick, did it?). It was all very entertaining, and broadening for the mind for someone who had grown up as a missionary kid. I met The Man, and we got married, because as Good Baptists, that's what you have to do if you are going to take a relationship to the next level. About four minutes after I graduated, I got pregnant.
The Man got a job in Broken Hill, so we moved to the desert and bought a tiny miner's cottage. I volunteered as an adult literacy tutor and reluctantly learned how to cook. The Man took a job in Adelaide and we had baby Number Two. It was very hot in Adelaide that summer so we decided on a whim to move to Tasmania. We wanted to live in a mud brick house in the forest. So we did. Did you know that Tasmanian forests are full of leeches and snakes?
We moved to the suburbs which are mercifully free of nasty bugs and reptiles, and I went back to university to do a Masters of Teaching. A year into this, oops! Baby Number Three. By this time I was home schooling children and rather glad not to be studying. Endless domesticity was doing my head in a bit, so I started an independent on-line children's bookshop for homeschooling parents. This was a joy in that I got to read and review lots of wonderful books and talk to lovely people about the books they needed, but I was absolutely pants at the business side, which was a problem, as it was actually a business, a fact that frequently escaped me. Eventually I moved that 'business' on, but am so pleased that it is still run all these years later by lovely homeschool parents.
In the end, most of the children wanted to go to school, and I decided that being home alone at the merciless whims of Posy would be bad for her character and mine, so they all went to school. Being unable to leave well alone, I volunteered at Posy's school extensively. In fact, by the second year I had volunteered so much that I was offered some Teacher Assistant work. I now do Teacher Assistant relief work with the Kinder kids whenever I am needed. Which means I get to play with four year olds and get paid for it. Which I think is pretty fun. In a couple of years when Posy is old enough to be home alone for half an hour or so after school, I could do the same thing at other schools. I find relief work suits me wonderfully, because I get to work with lots of different amazing teachers and kids, and do new things all the time. I have a very short attention span, so new is good. This week the office manager rang me to see if I could do relief work in the school office. I just laughed, and asked her how brave she was feeling. But today I did it, and hardly cut anyone off at all on the terrifying phone system, and no doubt caused absolute mayhem with all the school admin systems, but had a ball pretending to be one of the lovely office ladies and dealing with scraped knees and blood noses and lost bus money. I mean seriously, school admin is gloriously messy and unpredictable, and again, so much fun.
To be honest, I don't really consider any of this to be a real job, because it feels a bit like play acting. I put on my boots and a dress and pretend to be a grown up. I don't do it often enough for it to get boring, and when I am there I have a ball. All care taken, but no responsibility! That is the wondrous nature of relief work:) And really, it is ten times easier than all those years I was home alone with small children. But though what I am doing is fun, it is not all that I want to do.
So now, I am contemplating a future which will involve more paid work of some description. I still have children, and I want to be home with them when they are home, and The Man wants that too, and is happy to support me to do that. But I want to work too, and use my brain and try new things. But what? I have about twelve ideas a week, none of which I have acted on so far, because I generally haven't thought them through at all well. I don't think I actually really want a brilliant career. I want to patchwork together a good and satisfying life from a collection of fun little jobs that make me happy. I have thought of going back to uni again so I can be a 'proper' teacher, but I think that what I am doing now is all the fun bits of teaching without the painful bits. And if I was a teacher I couldn't be doing all the other things I want to do. I think about gardening and writing and making things and helping people and I want to do them all, so that is my plan as of this moment. Ok, you are right, that isn't a plan at all, more of an idea. I am all about ideas. Sometimes I even implement one or two.
Here is my question for today - if you could do anything you want to do, completely disregarding ideas of remuneration and social status and what you actually trained for, if any quirky little interest in your life could be expanded into a part time hobby job, what would you do? Or have you taken this to the next level and actually done it? Please tell us all about it. I want some inspiration!
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