School of Life
Hate the job, love the life: Divorce, kids, and paying the bills
There’s nothing like a divorce to make you take stock of your life. Especially if it’s not your first one.
Or your second one.
Or it’s a really nasty divorce.
Or it involves custody of a child.
Or, as in my case, all of the above.
Clearly I had some things to figure out.
Like what I was going to do for a living. And how to be not a perfect mom, but the best mom I could be. And how to constructively co-parent with That Man that I had just had an all-out legal battle with. And, of course, how to steer clear of relationship mistakes in the future.
The decision of what do to for a living was a tough one. The logical thing to do was to go back to practicing law. After all, that’s what I had done before I had my daughter Hannah; and now that my days of being a stay-at-home mom were coming to an end, that seemed to make the most sense. So, when a law job fell in my lap, I took it.
But it was a general counsel position rather than the real estate law I was accustomed to. After a couple of years, I finally admitted to myself that I just wasn’t crazy about my job. I realized the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach was not working since I wasn’t sure I would ever make it, and I just couldn’t fake it anymore.
...hopefully my stockpile of past experiences, an enthusiasm for the daily adventures that lie ahead, and a willingness to dedicate a little time trying to make a little sense of it all, will occasionally lead to some interesting insights and discoveries.
I didn’t want to spend a substantial chunk of my life doing something that I really didn’t like, so I gave some thought to what I did enjoy.
The answers came easily. I loved parenting. With my son Aaron in law school and Hannah in elementary school, my relationship with my kids was something that I dedicated a substantial amount of time and energy to over the last twenty-five years or so.
It wasn’t just that I loved being a mom—it was more than that. I found the whole business of parenting to be rewarding, engaging and challenging in a myriad of ways. From theories in child development, to how to keep the lines of communication open, to how to keep a strong connection with kids at each age level, these issues were fascinating to me. I guess my interest in the topic made sense. My Dad was a professor and Mom founded a Montessori school, I had been surrounded by discussions about children, learning and education ever since I could remember.
While the effort I put into parenting paid off in many ways, money wasn’t one of them. True, Aaron was going to be a lawyer soon enough and that hopefully meant he’d get a good job, but he was all grown up and didn’t have enough work to keep me busy anymore. Hannah still needed a lot of my time, but last time I checked, there wasn’t enough money in her piggy bank to cover her bike repair bill, let alone my car payment. Bottom line: Parenting was not going to pay the bills.
So, I kept thinking. I also liked real estate. On top of having practiced real estate law, I was a licensed agent. Over the years I bought houses, fixed them up and sold them, partly for fun, but also to make a little extra money. And I owned a few investment properties too, both commercial and residential. I had hired my brother’s company to manage these properties for me because I had a full-time job. If I quit my job I would have enough time to do that myself. But could I make enough money at that to support myself?
Rounding out my list of interests was this: I had a lot of opinions and I really liked to broadcast them. Initially, I considered going to work for Fox News. It wasn’t that anyone over there had offered me a job or anything, but I heard they paid plenty of people good money to rail on about their opinions. There was one tiny little problem, though—and no, it wasn’t that I didn’t have any journalism experience, because as far as I could tell that never held anybody else back at FOX. My problem was that my opinions were not to the extreme right, which apparently made them completely wrong.
Plus, even though I’m opinionated, I am self-aware enough to realize that I am wrong from time to time, and have made (arguably more than) my fair share of mistakes in my life. My limited exposure to FOX’s programming led me to believe my willingness to recognize and admit when I screw up might be another obstacle to getting a gig there.
So, what else could I do with an interest in real estate, a passion for parenting, plenty of war stories, a desire to learn from my mistakes as well as my successes, a bunch of strong opinions, and a drive to communicate?
Then I had a light bulb moment: I can manage my properties and write about topics ranging from parenting, education, marriage & relationships, and real estate! But just to be perfectly clear, I don’t purport to be an expert in any of these areas—in fact, I would instead characterize myself as more of a lifelong student. But hopefully my stockpile of past experiences (both good and not-so-good), an enthusiasm for the daily adventures that lie ahead, and a willingness to dedicate a little time trying to make a little sense of it all, will occasionally lead to some interesting insights and discoveries.
And if none of that works out, maybe we can just have a good laugh. Think of it as a peer-led correspondence course in the classroom of life.
Oh—and the tuition is free. So…who’s in?