Amanda - posted on 04/22/2010 ( 1 mom has responded )
Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I had a career. I know that to be totally PC, I should add the phrase “outside the home” but I don't look at my family as an alternative career choice. My kids are a higher calling.
But I used to work full-time, all day, every day, outside the home. I was a magazine editor for years and a journalist and a screenwriter. I once interviewed Rick Springfield -- admittedly, it was on the set of a truly poor Sci-Fi Channel film, but I was so excited I was shaking. (FYI, he's not all that keen on answering questions about "Jessie's Girl" or "General Hospital.") I once did the can-can with Sulu and Chekov from the original Star Trek. I even interviewed the guy who wore the R2D2 suit in Star Wars.
I don't write this to name-drop – because come on, this would be the lamest attempt at name-dropping in the history of journalism. But I loved my job.
When we moved back to Florida, I was thrilled to get a job as editor of Emerald Coast Magazine and eventually, Bay Life. My job was to get to know people and go to events in Northwest Florida. I wrote about everything: real estate, jewelry, crime, health, entertainment – you name it.
If you had asked me back then – as baffling as this thought is to me now – I would probably have told you that I didn't care if I had kids or not. Motherhood wasn't something I thought about that much.
Billy changed everything. When he came along, I had had every intention of going back to work at the end of maternity leave. But then that three months whizzed by and I couldn't let go of him. I couldn't let go of his tiny feet or shake his firm little grasp. I couldn't imagine missing a single smile or not being there to pick him up when he cried.
At first, I tried working from home with him. People had told me, "It's easy at this age. They just sleep all the time." Maybe they were talking about cats, because neither of my children could ever have been described this way.
I freelanced for a while, but as Billy's developmental delays became more apparent and the demands of treating them increased, I let go of the final shreds of my career. A couple of little jobs came up here and there but it was hard for me to commit to even the simplest assignment, because I never knew when our life was going into a minor tailspin, and to be honest, I was super-stressed and finding it difficult to think about anything except Billy's autism.
I'm a control freak. I'm a planner. I like to organize things and make to-do lists and feel like I've accomplished something at the end of the day. I think that made me a good magazine editor. But parenting an autistic child is not something you can do from a Day Planner -- believe me, I tried.
That doesn't mean there wasn't plenty to fill up my Day Planner. Quite the contrary. We had doctor visits, tests, therapy appointments almost every day. From a practical standpoint, it just made sense for one of us to commit to chaffeur duty.
Slowly things started to change. Billy started preschool, Willow arrived and turned out to be world's easiest baby, and opportunities for me to write started to pop up.
This blog, started earlier this year, was my first attempt to dip my toe back into those waters. I was worried, at first, that I would have nothing to say. But when the floodgates opened, I found it difficult to shut up – which is probably one of the reasons I write some of the longest and most rambling blog posts on the Internet.
Then I got hired to be “Tallahassee Motherhood Examiner” for Examiner.com. That makes it sound like I go around examining people's motherhood credentials, but it actually just means that I write about parenting stuff at www.examiner.com/x-43368-Tallahassee-Motherhood-Examiner. I love doing that: I can now turn any afternoon with my kids into a tax write-off. Also, I get paid based on traffic, so if you check out my page, you're actually helping pay for Billy's expensive summer camp. Thanks! That kind of support entitles you to one macaroni craft or finger painting of your choice ... while supplies last.
My kids will never be impressed by my career. I can only imagine the baffling stares I'll get when I one day try to explain who Rick Springfield is. Or that there used to be a different Spock than the one played by the bad guy on “Heroes.” Maybe if had ever interviewed Lightning McQueen or Abby Cadabby it would be different.
But I make a mean batch of Rice Krispie treats, and if my life can serve as any kind of example to my children, I hope it shows them that sometimes the greatest miracles in your life are the biggest surprises; that you're capable of more than you think you are, so keep evolving; and the most exciting conversations you'll ever have will take place, not on movie sets, but in some of the quietest corners of your life with the people you love most.
Please keep in touch at www.AmandaBroadfoot.com.
All the best,