Day 7: My Job
I was so tired by the end of the day today, more so than usual. I think it was a combination of the weather and the general disappointment that summer has come to an end.
Whatever the reason, when I finally put my feet up, I sank into the couch with a bigger sigh than usual, grateful for a chance to zone out in front of the television.
As “The Office” played in the background, I let the voices provide the white noise I craved, as I began to think about what else still had to get done before finally crawling into bed. Then it dawned on me: this. I still had to muster up the energy to be grateful and eloquent and then type it up nicely to share with all of you.
Well, I don’t have the energy to dazzle, but I did manage to think of something I am grateful for (aside from tomorrow’s cup of coffee which I am already dreaming about): my job. Grateful that I have one (obviously) but most grateful for the kind of one I have.
Before having my son, I worked for years in a legal environment, the majority as foreclosure paralegal. Deadlines were short and always looming, problems constantly arising to derail court applications and delay or complicate orders approving the home sales. Things rarely ran smoothly and multitasking was not just beneficial, it was crucial for survival. I found myself standing on the skytrain during the commute home, dreaming about the bottle of wine I would crack open the minute i walked through the door.
When I got pregnant, my patience and eagerness to work my ass off decreased but the workload, of course, did not. Suffering with a high-risk pregnancy to begin with, my stress level was already at an all-time high.
I started working shorter days (on doctor’s orders) but the work was not lessening; instead of having the luxury of squeezing the maximum amount of work out of me over the course of 8 hours, they now only had 6. At 32 weeks, I went in for a routine doctors appointment and my Dr took one look at my blood pressure numbers and said ‘that’s it; you’re not allowed to go back to work’. I spent the following 5 and half weeks off on medical leave, on bed rest, until I was finally induced and my maternity leave began.
When my son was only a few mere weeks old, I already knew that I did not want to return to work at a big, busy law firm. Having been able to have those five and a half weeks to do nothing but relax (or try to) and think, I was able to finally see how stressful, exhausting and all-encompassing my job had really been. Foreclosure wasn’t for the weak of heart, and I knew I couldn’t give it my all and still have enough of me left over to be the mom I knew I wanted to be for my son.
So I didn’t go back to a firm, in fact I didn’t go back to legal at all. It turned out to be near impossible to find a part-time paralegal position. So, when the time came for my mat leave to end, I took a part-time administrative assistant position with a local school district instead.
It was decent enough; The pay good, hours ideal and people there were pleasant enough. Most importantly, it was more or less, stress-free. Great, right? Not so much.
No or low stress was great but I missed using my brain. I missed feeling like the work I did mattered and that I was good for more than just answering phones and filing paper. I missed legal.
It took a year of admin-only work to finally find the best of both worlds: low stress, high interest. I stuck it out at the school district until the perfect compromise came along. I found a job as a paralegal for in-house counsel at a non-profit, public education advocacy organization.
I have been here a year now and I couldn’t be happier. No looming, ridiculously tight deadlines, demanding clients or unappreciative partners barking demands. I get to use my brain assisting my legal counsel (who is the nicest, sweetest, most unlawyerish lawyer I have ever met) conduct research and monitor new and changing legislation.
The work we do is generally for the school trustees (who are looking out for the best interest of the students) and ultimately benefits the kids, who we are, in our own small way, helping, which I love.
I spent what felt like forever searching for the kind of job that wasn’t too demanding, that I thoroughly enjoyed, and that allowed me to use my education (and brain!). At times, it often seemed like it was a lost cause, but it wasn’t and I’m grateful I stuck it out because I ended up exactly where I needed to be. ❤