Friday, September 17, 2010

Upside Down

Four weeks ago my life changed unexpectedly.

Okay. True. I did know that things at my office weren't fabulous. The staff had been on 80% pay for over a year and the office wasn't super busy. But a few things seemed to have come along and there weren't any negative rumblings. It wasn't great, but it didn't seem too bad.

Apparently appearances can be deceiving. Six of us were laid off that day. I had about 30 seconds notice about what was about to happen since I was the second one to be called in and the first victim let me know what had happened to her.

And just like that, after 11 years, I was unemployed.

I spent the day cleaning up my desk and my computer. And hugging coworkers. And being stunned...and not really knowing what was next.

And I still don't.

Well, in my immediate future was vacation. We were just about to embark on an 11 day period when Heather would be home. We had some vacation plans and some staycation plans. So for a week and a half I had very little time to *do* anything about my situation. I started to make some lists, I claimed unemployment and I did some thinking. But there wasn't time for resumes or portfolios or actually trying to find a job.

I have to tell you about the thinking. It was honestly a little like being pregnant again. All of the 'what do I want to do' all over again. What I mean is that the situation forces you to think all over again about why you work, what you like to do, do you want to keep doing the same thing, etc, etc, etc.

Where I have ended up is that I really do want to work. I want to be involved in the design of buildings. There are a variety of avenues where I might try to find a new place to do that. I'm hoping to find a job that is a good fit without being too picky. And I'm open to 'allied' jobs - something where I could use my architectural knowledge and experience without necessarily being in an architecture firm.

But if I can't find a job in the alloted time, then I would rather become a SAH Mom than open my own architecture firm. Maybe I'll change my mind down the road, but at the moment, hanging out my shingle isn't appealing.

No one has directly said to me that I should take the opportunity to stay home. It has been loosely implied by a couple of people and a few people have commented about the opportunity to spend more time with the kids. The conundrum of course is daycare. We can't just pull the kids out while I'm unemployed. Both because I need the time to work on my resume & portfolio, and hopefully have interviews, and also because we wouldn't be able to get them back *in* to daycare when (optimistically) I find a job.

Once I have my resume and portfolio prepared, I do plan to keep the kids home a day or two a week for extra activities or just to spend time together. And we may even be able to drop them down to 3 days a week to save a little money without losing their spots...but that is still to be determined. And I am spending more time with them, since I'm now the one doing drop-off and pick-up each day. That part is a nice change, to get to know their teachers and classmates a little better for the first time in three years. :-)

But in the end, it is the kids that put a lot more pressure on me in this situation than there would be if we didn't have kids. The daycare issue makes my job hunt feel a lot more like a ticking time bomb. Writing my resume and portfolio, and doing my best to network and interview well are the only things in my control at the moment. Down the line I may be lucky enough to get to choose between jobs or make some decision about what I want to do. But it is also a bit unsettling to know that we might come to a point where the situation makes the decision for me.

At the moment, I'm not really ready to go there. I am plugging along at documenting the last eleven years of my career (which is a lot of work) and keeping my ears and eyes open for opportunities.


DrDrama said...

This is a very well written post about the emotions and logistics of being laid off. I am hopeful that things will work out and in the meantime, enjoy this unexpected period as much as possible!

OHF said...

Stay positive, Amy--my thoughts are with you.