Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Trying to make sense of all of this

Yesterday, I went to a job fair and was hired on the spot for a mental health counseling position. The job is great and think I'd do it well and enjoy it besides. But there are a number of problems with it (of course). For one, the job is not considered permanent or full time - it is a fill in job for employees who call in sick, are on leave or vacation. I'd also have to be filling in for all three shifts because it is a hospital unit so that means overnight hours. The job is in Chicago and living in the suburbs I prefer suburban locations because I am more familiar with my neck of the woods. Plus there are no benefits including insurance, although the hourly pay is not bad. For me, the real difficulty with the job has to do with being on call and not knowing what my hours would be on a week-to-week basis. My employer cannot make me any kind of guarantee as to how much I'd actually be working. I think they anticipate I'd have hours but the thought of being called two hours before I'm supposed to go in is more than I can bear right now. Also, I do not feel comfortable leaving my boys on their own overnight.

Right now what I am craving and know that I need is structure and stability. I need to know what my work hours are so I can plan my life and effectively parent my boys. I'd have no problem taking a job like this if there was someone at home to help hold down the fort but I am on my own and I have to take this into consideration. A lot of this has to do with the tremendous amount of unpredictability I've faced in the past years. First there was my husband's illness and the constant, up and down not knowing if the treatments would work or if he was going to die. Then with my remarriage my new husband was always threatening me with divorce so there was that roller coaster and the eventual divorce. In between these events were many involving my parents' illnesses, my Mom's death and my son's diagnosis of Long QT Syndrome (potentially fatal heart arrhythmia).

After getting the job offer I went and talked with Human Resources and explained my situation ("widow card") and that I'd prefer a suburban location. The HR Head said she'd see about another position and we left my acceptance on hold. She is supposed to call back today. When I left the job fair I burst into tears after reaching the safety of my car and had a good, long cry. I asked the Universe what it wants me to do here. I want and need a job but I am not willing to keep adding to the instability of my life by working a job that will bring that to me. I talked with a couple of friends and got the typical responses - about how I need to try and make this work and somehow arrange my life so it can fit around this job. My two male friends glossed over my concern about leaving the boys on their own overnight.

I'm trying to remain strong here and do the right thing for all of us. It is more challenging for someone like me to work out the details of a new job. I can't just take whatever is offered because there are too many ramifications. It would actually be easier to just take the job because that is what everyone else seems to think is the best thing. But it is harder to stand up for what I believe is better (and not the popular opinion) and that would be not taking this job because I do not want the upheaval it would being to our lives on a daily basis. So the widow not only has a harder life but then she is not supported for making the decisions she feels are the right ones to make. I'd say this is a pretty good example of damned if you do, damned if you don't, or at least that is how it feels to me.

About my boys - I don't care what anyone thinks or says. As an only parent it is up to me to make the decisions regarding their health, well being and welfare. I only know too well what can happen (and plenty of bad things happen). So if I error on the side of caution so be it. Better safe than sorry and it is one of the few things I do have a small amount of control over. But how frustrating to always be criticized for being an overly protective parent. And what about my safety besides? No one seems to consider the risk I may have driving into Chicago on my own at night. I just think I'm expected to always be some superwoman and I've reached a point where I'm saying "no." I have limitations, I can only be stretched so far. My life was ripped out from under me, I'm trying to move on as best I can and now the least I deserve is respect for the careful decisions I make because I think they are what is best. And if others can't or won't give me that, then I'll have to be strong and give it to myself because I know it is right.

Yesterday, I felt so defeated and exhausted. I felt like giving up on life and living - just throwing my hands up and admitting defeat.

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