Monday, November 19, 2012


One of the ways that I make decisions is by percolation. I research an issue, mentally list the pros and cons, and then when time allows I let it sit in the back of my head and percolate or simmer for a while. Back when I was in my "helping profession" career, I would often suggest this tactic to students who were trying to make a big decision as well.

But sometimes I don’t even have to consciously let things percolate – a decision that I wasn’t even necessarily thinking consciously about just seems to appear to me. This happened recently.

This decision that appeared to me is that I will likely never stop working outside the home and I will never stop volunteering.

For background, you should know that it typically takes me a while to adjust to new situations. After Beezus was born, it took about 11 months until Mr. Q and I felt that we had a good handle on both of us working and having a small child. Although we had a handle on it, we didn’t like the sort of life that we were living, so I quit my career job, started trying to get pregnant, and worked a couple temporary jobs until Ramona was born.

 Then it took several months again to get used to being a stay at home mom. Once I did, I really enjoyed it. Then opportunity knocked and a part-time job appeared that I didn’t want to turn down. Most days I really like it and it’s only occasionally stressful. It’s all the sort of work that I’ve done in some form or another in the past, so while it’s always easy, for the most part I know what I’m doing. But the indispensable part of it is that occasionally someone says thank you or tells me that I’ve done a good job. In my former career job, it happened ALL THE TIME – but that was a helping profession and I had a lot of opportunities to help people figure stuff out, provide direction for solving a problem, or even sometimes I told them what they didn’t want to hear but they sometimes thanked me later.

While I only get the occasional thank you or good job at work, it feels so good to get those. In addition, I feel a sense of completion when I draft a particularly difficult letter or figure out the nuances of a draft regulation that could affect our industry. And don’t forget photocopies – sometimes if the copier is acting finicky and I fix it, that might be the biggest accomplishment of the day.  I get a lot of thank yous from the volunteer and social justice work I do.  Those are especially welcome because they are sincere most of the time !

As wonderful as my husband and kids are, I just don’t get enough thank yous at home. I just don’t. And I don’t want to put that burden on Mr. Q.

I’ve thought a lot about whether this is unhealthy, this desire of mine to be appreciated. Perhaps it used to be. When I was younger in my professional career it was the only way I knew if I had done a good job or not – if someone else told me.

These days, I know when I'm doing a good job so I don't need the gratitude.  But it sure feels great to hear them anyway.


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Elaine said...

I'm ulling this over and how it interacts with the "good job" culture that we've talked about. Hmmm...

Dr. Blondie said...

Hello, there! It's so encouraging to hear that you've found what sounds like a great part-time job. I recently left my career as a university administrator, too! I love being home full-time with my son, and I'm starting to dabble in a little part-time work here and there. It's a tough balance though. Glad you seem to have found it!

Aimee @ Smiling Mama said...

I love this idea of percolating...that's my process as well. In fact my husband sometimes gets frustrated that I can't answer something immediately!

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