Friday, February 27, 2009


I left a job that I was deeply committed to for 10 years in the fall of 2007. I am mostly unemployed although I have a very part-time job and an almost nonexistent side business. I still qualify for unemployment so that shows you how much I'm making right now.

I walked, which was painful. I had grown into the school walls, attached to my desk and computer. I had generated many arms that surrounded hundreds of teenagers in crisis - past and present. I cut my ties and walked out without notice. I felt that I had no choice.

I looked curiously at my life outside of work. What was I going to do? How was I supposed to function when my life wasn't organized around what I had to do for my job . . . and there was A LOT of had to do.

I cried. I felt sick. I was hysterically relieved. I was giddy with my lack of work responsibility. I shredded paper, chucked recently important documents, returned no phone calls related to the old job. I made sure to pass on all information needed for student support, but I was not willing to respond to every demand from my ex-employer. I was your sucker for long enough - it's over.

My most immediate concern was my younger child who struggled with asthma. At this time, we saw the doctor two to three times per month on average - occasionally rushing, panicked to the hospital.

Violet (all names have been changed to protect the innocent) had first gotten very sick at six weeks old. I had never felt so overwhelmed and scared. My knees were jello. I took her to the doctor and hospital on my own. I had another child who needed the other parent or grandparent when my husband was working.

By the time I left my job, Violet was 16 months old. We had already survived a hospital stay, a close call when her oxygen levels became so low that the hospital staff ran. Every succeeding illness set off alarm bells. I was constantly confined to our home.

I decided to try an eBay business. I could just picture how it would work. I would stay home, be a good mom, and ship things to people who I didn't need to deal with face-to-face. I would work hard, like I always had, and it would work. But no.

My older child, Daisy - the one that wasn't sick - was in her last year of preschool when I left my job. Not only did she have a new baby sister to contend with and a mother who had been on bed rest for three months before her sister arrived, now there was the constant hurricane of medical attention around the little fussy thing. Daisy became desperate for her own doctor's appointments. She developed sudden coughs. At Violet's appointments, she displayed every bruise and scrape with a solemnness suitable for only the worst prognosis.

My husband gave me six months to get the eBay business off the ground. The time came and went. There was no paycheck in sight. But there was unemployment. A friend told me that I might qualify and I did. I had another six months to find a job or make the business work.

I found a tutoring job. I worked a few hours a week. My unemployment was extended as the economy fell apart. Then it was extended again and then again. Now I tutor about 10 hours a week. I have three months left to find a more substantial job.


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