If Unemployment Were Like Vacation


Once, for about three months, I was unemployed. Every day during those months I woke up early, found jobs to apply to, fired off resumes, made phone calls. In social situations, strangers asked me “what I did” and I felt awkward. Friends told me to enjoy the time off, but I couldn’t because I was too stressed about finding a job.

Being home caring for twin babies (while job hunting) feels similar to my experience of being unemployed, except that at the same time as I’m “unemployed” I’m working full time, with no time to write resumes or make phone calls. Also, this “unemployed” job I have is exhausting, involves strenuous heavy lifting, intense mental energy, and no breaks. I’ve never been a procrastinator, and I think the stress of not being able to get things done is building over time.

Amazingly, though, no one else seems worried that I’m wasting my life, or that I’ll never work again. Life changes quickly, and I know these babies are going to be all grown up in about a second. Most of my problems, luckily, are in my head. This morning I had a moment where I really felt at peace, so I thought I’d capture it here:

I set up the babies’ water table in the back yard, under the redbud, taking along a chair and book for myself. It’s summer, and the humidity is thick, though not bad if you aren’t moving. When we all got down and settled, I sat in the chair with the book for a minute and watched the babies investigate the toys in the water. The neighbors have hung a bird feeder, and a few sparrows came to peck at the seeds.  The grass was freshly mowed, the plants in my newly-seeded garden looked healthy. It was quiet. And for a a moment I didn’t think about the things I wish I had done or was doing; life is good, I thought. I am lucky to be here, in this beautiful place.


31 thoughts on “If Unemployment Were Like Vacation

  1. I’m the same way when I’m unemployed. I feel like I would be a hypocrite if I told you to enjoy the time off. What I will say is that whenever I was unemployed, if I wanted to job badly enough, I would find one and it never took too long.

  2. I’m taking a moment from working around the clock to say that although it would seem we’re in opposite situations, I feel exactly the same way. There are always things to wish we were doing, and guilt that creeps up because of it. I feel it so much more now that I am a parent, but it was always there. The the only real comfort I find in that is to imagine the opposite.

    • Thank you so much for saying that, Sheena. I know these problems aren’t problems that go away when I get a job (unless it were some sort of magical job in which I got paid to do something I like to do anyway). And you are right, not wanting to do anything ever would be scary.

  3. I love the way you captured the moment here–beautiful. I know what you mean about being “unemployed” and yet working harder than you ever did before! I think one of my biggest fears is when I finally try to go back into the professional field and will have to state how many years I have been without a job! It is all worth it though. To spend my days with my kids is something I would not trade for all the world. 🙂

    • Yes, and they grow up quickly–if the last year is any way to judge. I do think, hope, that things have a way of working out if you are patient and determined.

  4. It is a beautiful place! How wonderful that you get to spend time with your babies like this! There will be plenty of time for job hunting and working. These early years go fast.

    • Yes, I know you’re right. I always have a feeling that there is something else I wish I could be doing, or that I should be doing. It isn’t always productive.

  5. How funny. I just watched About Time last night and it’s about just this very idea. That we should spend more time enjoying the little moments… That and time travel. Totally good movie! If you haven’t seen it I recommend it!

  6. If I had a dollar for every time you’ve written something I really identify with, I’d be a rich lady by now!
    I understand how you’re feeling as I worked for twelve years before I had my twins and also felt ‘unemployed’ for a while after they were born. Not earning takes a bit of getting used to. I threw myself back into study when the babies were only one to keep myself ‘busy’. I sort of regret it as I was under pressure to study during their nap-times etc. I think I was judging myself too harshly and worried what others might think. In the end no one judged except me. My twins start school in September and I’ll certainly need a few more writing gigs by then or a part-time job.
    I’ve come to realise that being at home has many perks. Today for instance my husband isn’t very busy at work, so he’s going to meet us at lunch-time and we’ll go on a nice walk to an old Abbey which I haven’t visited before.
    I think time will cure these feelings you’re having. 🙂 Sorry for long comment!

    • Thank you so much, Olivia. I really value hearing what you have to say since it seems like we have so much in common! I know I shouldn’t be so hard on myself or worry so much what other people think–those are definitely two problems I have. Sometimes it’s hard to separate what I want from what I think the expectations are, if that makes sense. Anyway I agree there are definitely advantages to being home.

  7. You just made me cry…i am in seattle airport getting ready to board a plane home leaving my kids and grandchildren…its all so ridiculously bittersweet this motherhood thing

  8. You know, you’re getting alot of feedback here generally relating to you and your situation. I just wanted to say, if you ever have doubts about what you’re doing as opposed to what you think you SHOULD be doing…why not ask your kids what they’d prefer? I know they’re only little and they can’t really give you that answer, but I only use that to point out the obvious thing….in 15 years when they are teens, you won’t have to ask them – they WILL tell you what they think and why and how and when and anything else that is in their head. And when you get that perspective with them and really see who they are and can be, you’ll know then that what you are doing right now really really made a difference in the people they will be by then. When they’re older with kids of their own, then you get the chance to see what they would change…and chances are they’re going to be home with their kids too or bringing them to you to care for.

    • Thank you for saying that. That’s one thing I love about this blog, I get a long-term perspective from people like you who have gone through the stage I’m in now. I can’t say I know what they will think when they’re 15, but I hope you’re right, and somehow my being home with them now does make some sort of difference.

  9. I know how you feel – I do feel the same every so often but the feeling disappears when I observe my son and I see how well he’s developing. You’re doing a great job with your twins and you’re a very talented lady. The job will come to you eventually, you’ll see.

    • Thank you so much for saying that–it’s good just to hear! For some reason WordPress stopped notifying me of new comments, so I only saw this now; apologies for the delayed response!

  10. What a lovely post – an another in which I can completely relate. It feels like lately, with my almost 1 year olds, those peaceful reflective moments are hard to come by, and I’m feeling overworked and underpaid. BUT…will they remember how I stayed home with them for the first year of their life? Will I have made an impact on them by doing so? Do I wish I was at work instead? No, no I don’t.

    • I know, and really it’s such a short time in the scheme of things! Just hard to have perspective in the moment. Blogging helps, and hearing from other parents in similar situations.

  11. Good luck with the hunt. To be honest I found it nearly impossible to get my stuff together for job hunting when I only had one to look after. One day I hired a cleaner just so I could make a solid push during nap time and that’s what finally landed me my next position.

    Time off can be great, but not when you’re feeling under pressure.

  12. Looking after babies is a full time job, and job hunting is a full time job too! You can’t fit everything in as there just isn’t the time. It is lovely to take a moment to step back and enjoy them, as the time really does fly. I can’t believe my boys will be five this year. I’m currently taking some ‘time off’ while we emigrate and I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed or exhausted. Getting back into work again will be like a holiday after this! xx

    • Ha, well nothing like changing things around to make you appreciate what you had before. If only there were more hours in the day. Or more baby napping hours? 🙂 Anyway, thank you for commenting!

    • A water table is just what it sounds like–a baby height table that you can put water in. The babies stand at it and can splash around in the water with their hands; they really love it! We inherited ours from my sister, but I’m sure you can get them from Target or wherever. I recommend it 🙂

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