What Was Missing

“For we who earnest seek shall sometimes find, And all unto a nobler semblance cast, As unexpected stars gleam forth at night.” -Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Seeking, 1891

 Today I went back to work full-time as a reporter for two local weekly newspapers after spending seven years as a stay-at-home mother of three. The change felt abrupt, but right nonetheless. For me, the most appealing aspect of this job is that when asked what I do for a living I am finally able to say: “I’m a writer.”

Up until now writing has been my hobby. So, as one might imagine, I would have been happy if my office was located in a cave or even an igloo. I would have been satisfied with a cardboard box for a desk, papayrus paper and a quill for office supplies, so long as I could write for a living.

This change in lifestyle happened so quickly it left me standing in my closet looking at rows of sweatshirts and cotton pants wondering where I was going to come up with a full business casual wardrobe in 24 hours with a personal savings of less than $20 hidden in my makeup case.

Then my phone rang. It was my fairy godmother, my friend Sandy.

“I’m half-way to your house. I have a bag of clothes I don’t wear. Can you use them?” She had no idea I just got a job.

My fairy godmother has the best taste: Ann Taylor Loft, Gap, and Old Navy. Some dresses still had tags.

God is very good. Not only did He send me a new wardrobe just when I needed it, but He knows that I’m a fan of everything vintage. My office is a quaint century-old building with white federal-style columns. The front picture window overlooks a sleepy side street off the main strip of a historic Long Island town. The tenant in the back is an antiques dealer so the hall leading to the restroom is lined with interesting estate paintings, old photographs and prints. The building owner has been known to allow office cats. This is my kind of workplace!  

Throughout my first day I found it difficult to conceal my joy over the smallest things: changing the email recipient on my work  station computer, resetting the message on my phone, getting a business card, making a contact, starting my first story.

 The office manager gave me gifts: a box of paper clips, crisp beige folders, and a stapler.  I cleaned my desk with antibacterial wipes and arranged my office supplies working hard to tone down my enthusiasm so as not to appear odd.

After work I was speaking to my mother, telling her how happy I felt over each small accomplishment at my new job.

“I can’t really explain why these ordinary details thrilled me so much,” I told her over the phone.

“Your sense of self-worth is restored. You needed this job; it was meant for you.”

Motherhood is very fulfilling, but this opportunity fills another need I have. It’s the desire to utilize my talents to their full potential, to keep a piece of myself separate from my family.

All this time I’ve been missing the loss of this piece of myself. I hung up wondering: How come mom is always right?

 Loren Christie is a columnist and Illustrations Editor for MaMaZina. She is also a reporter for The Suffolk County News and Islip Bulletin in NY. Visit her personal blog: Dude, Where Am I?

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