That is the question. After six years out of the "work force," I feel like I'm a good, solid sailboat that is adrift...bobbing around in the vast ocean with no wind in her sails. But I've hoisted the jib anyway, certain that the wind will come.
I used to own a 30' Catalina sailboat in the San Francisco Bay. It was a beautiful boat that I named Sweet Dreams. It wasn't new but was well kept, except for the engine. It had a cracked head that had to be replaced. I've had a few repairs myself in the last six years...none of them voluntary unfortunately. My sailboat also had a tiller instead of a wheel and I loved that about her because I could really "feel" the nuances of steering her in every kind of wind and current combination. With a wheel, you have to anticipate and compensate more. Maybe that's why I've always preferred a car with a manual transmission as well. I want to respond directly to the engine based on what I sense...and I want the engine to respond immediately. I think I'm like my boat and my car...I drive better on instinct, based on current conditions.
Now I'm sure there's some very deep meaning in there somewhere about how I'm approaching my present situation...but, if you're reading this blog, do you really care? It's all relative anyway.
Mainly, I'm betting that a lot of other moms are just as frustrated about bobbing around and, like me, are having a hard time figuring out where to start now that her kids are in school. Many of us feel compelled to find paying work just to help with the outrageous cost of health care or college tuition or just so our kids can take dance/music/karate lessons. But we're torn because we're even more compelled to be _with_ our children when school gets out. Being available to manage semi-regular sit-down dinners with our families and keep the laundry at bay are valid concerns for us. We want to work, but it has to be part time, and it has to be _worth_ our time. Our time is just as valuable as any other professional tax-payer, isn't it?
So where do I start if I'm not getting back on the same track I left six years ago? In the years preceding motherhood, I worked very hard in my chosen profession. I saw my public teaching work as a mission and was able to give myself to it fully. But now? I can't afford to spend a large part of my day with groups of children who need me (in so many different ways) then continue that calling when I come home too. The way it drains you...I can't afford it emotionally or physically. Not yet. (It pretty much stinks financially too but that's another story.)
But I have experience and "mad skills" built up over more than a decade...not to mention all that higher education. There must be something I can do, that is PAID, where I could have impact. Where I could use my "gifts." Which has led me to consider filling out one of the many spiritual gift inventories out there. No, I've never done one. But I'm sensing that might be a fine place to steer my boat today in search of a little breeze...and see if that takes me somewhere. There might not be any wind there either, in which case I'll keep waiting and bobbing...and keeping my eyes firmly on the horizon (see Psalm 121) because when I forget to do that and look down, even for a moment, I get seriously seasick.