Years ago, when I was a recent master’s graduate searching for my first “real” job, my husband (then boyfriend) provided this helpful theory: the only thing you need to get a job is another job. Translation: when you’re jobless, there are no jobs. When you’re working, poof! Suddenly there’s a world of opportunities.
My partner, as he often does, proved correct. My yet-to-be-paid-for journalism degrees and I accepted a job entering time sheets in the bowels of an engineering firm’s accounts payable. (Or accounts receivable? I’m still not sure…) The company needed someone who could type and file, and I needed a job to get a job. It worked. Shortly after, I applied and was hired for a dream job, programming study abroad for the local community college, while freelancing for a local magazine on the side.
Fast forward a few years, a few moves, and a few kids, and I find myself in a familiar position. In freelance life, it seems that the only thing you need to get a writing assignment is another writing assignment. I’ve only been freelancing (moonlighting) again for a year, and my busiest times are clumped together in one big bunch, when I’m happily under the gun to file several stories at a time. Sometimes I take on too much, partly because I work best under pressure, partly because I can’t say no, but mostly because it feels good. (Is that why I have three kids so close in age?)
During the slow times, when I’m tinkering rather than toiling, I have the unfortunate luxury to consider my life choices—the personal, the professional, the pixie cut of 2011 (disaster). Parenting is still my favourite full-time assignment, but my duties are shifting—not lessening, but evolving—which leaves more room for the other parts of my identity to emerge from hibernation. As the kids become more independant, it’s easier and arguably essential to revive and embrace those dormant parts. (The personal and the professional parts, not the pixie cut.) Perhaps Mother’s Day is the wrong time to think about my identity other than “mom.” Or maybe it’s the perfect time. Besides, maybe all you need for an identity… is another identity?