Hands in the Dirt

Dirt flew around my dining room as my hands pulled apart the roots of the plant. I knew instinctively that the mess I was making on our bamboo floor was worthy of a picture, but my blackened hands and my attention needed to stay put on my work—to divide my eight-foot houseplant and transplant it into multiple pots.

Determining my work at this season of my life is similarly messy.

Multiple circumstances have caused me—for the first time in fifteen years—to look beyond my work at home toward work outside my home. My children have all reached double digits, including a daughter who will be driving in less than two months.  I also need more opportunities to publish professionally for my writing to progress. And, a supplemental income has become an economic necessity that hasn’t gone away.

One answer has not become clear. I’ve written and submitted a manuscript. I’ve applied for jobs in my career field. I’ve applied for jobs that are unrelated to my educational skills but that I’m more than qualified to fulfill. One opportunity had not risen to the top.

And the messiest part of all is that I do not want to disrupt the family patterns I’ve spent years creating. Greeting my children when they come home from school. Reassuring them that whatever they’ve faced in their day, they belong somewhere and to someone.  Nourishing and nurturing them at our family dinner table. These are the times and places where and when we’ve developed essential communication lines.

Every mother faces a tangle of choices as she determines her priorities for work inside and outside of the home. Those decisions are as intertwined as the roots of the plant I needed to divide but that would just not pull apart.

While I root around this mess of options for a permanent solution that will satisfy our family’s circumstances and my talents and skills, I’ve taken a temporary job. Starting today, I’m going to work for the U.S. Census.

“What does that mean for you blog,” my son asked.

“I’ll still post, but less frequently. Maybe just once a week until I’m finished with the work.”

“So, every Tuesday . . .” he prodded.

“Don’t pin me down; I’m not sure what to expect.”

Whatever opportunity comes next, I know I can expect this—the work of growth will continue and my hands will still be in the dirt.


  1. Rebecca
    Mar 15, 2010

    I swear we’re living parallel lives. Your posts are always spot on with what I’m dealing with. I’m going through the same battle in my head and life-only my battle is a bit backwards from yours. I’m already making money and putting my talents to financial use, but I’m now trying to figure out how to balance the family life I want to have with the need to earn income. I sincerely hope your book lands in a happy editor’s lap soon. I’m sure it is publish-worthy.

  2. Laila
    Mar 16, 2010

    Good luck with the Census job. I’ve been doing customer service for the Census for about a month now. Interesting opportunity, but worth the temporary part time hours. Things will work out for the best for you.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *