I’ve had quite the wide variety of jobs throughout my short life, all of which have taught me a lot about who I am and who I want to become.
In college I studied broadcast journalism with a dream of becoming a news anchor or sports anchor. After graduating, I quickly realized just how important being close to my family was and put my dream of reporting the news on the back-burner. Many, many times, if you want to break into broadcasting you will have to move to the middle of nowhere to get your start with a small news station. Now, this isn’t always the case, after all, it’s all about who you know. I’ve always been willing to start at the bottom like everyone else, for the opportunity to climb the totem pole, but the thought of leaving my family behind for an indefinite amount of time killed me. Then there’s also the likelihood of still being far away once I potentially did settle into a larger news station in a bigger city. Yep, I made the right choice for myself, but I do have days where I wonder – “what could have been?”
My first job out of college was with a local police department, as a Community Services Officer. Sounds official and I even looked pretty official, having to wear a civilianized police uniform to work everyday. I really enjoyed that job, as I got to work with the people in the community almost everyday. To sum it up, one of my main responsibilities was running the Neighborhood Watch for the entire city. This meant holding educational meetings at homes of community members where the neighbors would come and ask questions about general crime prevention. Surprisingly to some, it was a lot of fun!
After working that job for about six months or so, I knew I wanted something more – more hours and more money. The job at the police department was only part time, so I took to the internet and started to see what else was out there, even though I didn’t really know what I was looking to do. (I’m one of those people who loves so many different things that I could see myself having many different jobs or career paths.)
I remember randomly applying for a brand new little airline named Virgin America. I truly did apply on a whim believing that I would never hear back from them. Not only that, but did I really want to fly all the time? Within a few days of applying as an “In-Flight Team Member,” a.k.a. flight attendant, I was starting the interview process and eventually went on to a stressful four week training before getting my wings. People have no idea what kind of training flight attendants go through, but I have to say after having been through it, it is tough and it is very serious. At the end of the day a flight attendant is there to keep passengers safe, not just to bring you a coke with no ice.
During the three years I worked for Virgin America I traveled, I met wonderful people and was part of something so unique that I don’t think it will ever be replicated. I know my former colleagues can certainly agree with that.
I stopped working for Virgin because I didn’t feel like I was growing anymore. I did what I could within the company to grow – became an In-Flight Team Leader, was part of the Promotions Team and worked at Virgin HQ in Burlingame, CA. Eventually the commute to HQ got to me enough and I decided it was time to close that chapter.
Enter police work once again. Even before my first police job, I had always been curious about police dispatchers. Many who know me know that I come from a law enforcement family, so as they say, “it runs in the blood.” I tested for police dispatcher positions and eventually was hired with a local police department. I’ve never been through such a mentally challenging experience with a job until this one. It’s hard to explain to people exactly what the job is like if they don’t know police work or have never sat alongside a police dispatcher for a partial shift. Just like with anything, I can’t expect the general public to know just how taxing a job like that can be. You talk to people who might be facing the absolute worst moment of their life, or you might be talking to someone wanting to end their life.
I stopped working as a dispatcher about 7 months after starting. I realized that I didn’t want to feel the way I felt going into work everyday – I felt so much stress and always wondered about the “what if.” Shortly after making the decision to part ways with dispatching was when Craig was trying to get into the police academy. I knew then that if we were going to have a life together that I didn’t want to be in the same field that he was, working the same long and hard shifts, and probably not seeing much of each other because of that.
After leaving my job as a dispatcher I felt desperate to find a new job. This was the first time in my life where I had quit a job without knowing where I would go next. I was of the mindset that I could just work some odd job and look for the “real” job during my time away from work. This was when I was hired by Tiffany & Co. I thought I would work there through the holiday season and move on, but that wasn’t the case. I quickly saw that there was opportunity for me to grow within the company. Over the course of working for this famed jewelry store, I fell in love with so many aspects of the job. There were also things I didn’t care for, but that’s the case with any job. I started studying more about gemstones and diamonds and discovered that there was a plethora of information for me to learn.
Since I so enjoyed selling engagement rings, I knew that my next move was to continue my education by studying with the Gemological Institute of America. I took online classes learning more about metals, diamonds and colored stones. Eventually these classes took me to the GIA campus in Carlsbad, CA for additional education and testing. I wanted to ultimately become a Gemologist, which I still would love to do.
I’ve left behind so many different jobs and potential career paths that on some days I can’t help but feel like I’ve sacrificed a career to be a stay-at-home mom. I do not regret staying at home with Gialina one bit, but there are times where I see others and think, well they do it – “Why shouldn’t I? Why can’t I?” I think thoughts like these are totally normal. Working moms long for more time with their kids, stay-at-home moms long for something of their own and moms who do it all can still have these same feelings.
Ask people what they think about stay-at-home moms and you’ll get a variety of answers, this I’m sure of. “They sit around all day. They’re making the best decision ever. They don’t contribute to society. They’re making a great sacrifice to stay home and nurture their kids day in and day out.” There’s no shortage of opinions about women who stay home and raise their kids. Hell, there’s no shortage of opinions about anything anymore!
Personally, I felt it impossible for me to be a great parent and a great employee at the same time. I’m in awe of the women who do both because it’s hard! It’s all hard! Sometimes something has got to give.
For me, Ashley, being a great parent means nurturing my daughter as much as I can during these first years. I’ll have my chance again to have my career soon enough. Don’t get me wrong here, this is not a post about how to be a great parent, because unlike work, parenting is extremely subjective. There are no titles, no end of the year bonuses, only endless care that you must provide in hopes that your child learns new things and grows up to be a good person.
I don’t have much credibility with regards to teaching others how to be good parents, so I won’t try – I mean, hello, I’ve had less than two years of experience. All I know is that I am becoming a better parent everyday because of all the time I spend with my child. I am keen to her unique wants and needs. Obviously, you don’t have to stay at home like me to be a good parent or know everything about your child. I have single-parent friends that work multiple jobs just to make sure their kids have what they need. I have friends who work part-time and do one hell of a job making sure that they are a provider and a caregiver. I also have friends who bust their butts at work for 12 hours a day so they can keep their house running smoothly and their kids happy. The bottom line is, we all do what we need to do for our individual family needs and that’s perfect, but it’s still tough.
To a degree, we all long for something we don’t have and when it comes to work-life balance and parenting. I’m not the only mom out there who feels like I don’t do enough at home – there’s always laundry, always dishes and always something! I beat myself up when I can’t do it all. “You’re just a stay-at home mom, why can’t you just get it all done like everyone else?!”
Enough negative self talk. Enough. If you work full-time, part-time, have a side hustle, stay at home with your kids, etc., you are amazing and doing your very best. There’s always time in this life for the it career, the vacation, the whatever. Remind yourself that what you’re doing is right for you at this moment in time.
My daughter and her sister who is growing in my belly will only be little for so long. I will have my career in a few years. For now, it can wait because I’m doing what’s best for my family and so should you, even if it means that my life and yours look very different.