Grandmothers who work
My daughter asked at dinner last night, “Mom, do you keep working because you have to or because you want to?” She is 45 and in a hellish job with no support from her boss, and colleagues who second guess her every decision. I can see how she would look at her 65 year old mother and think, why would I keep working if my work were as frustrating as hers. My work has been that frustrating at various points in my career. However, my work is different and better now than it has ever been.
Why? First, I work where I want to. I now do the kind of work I did in corporations full-time for a long time, part-time and with public agencies. Second, I work when I want to. I teach online and can do that at 4 AM if I want to spend the day shopping or taking my grandson to the zoo as I will next week. I’ve structured my “live” work to fit into one day a week so that I have days when I work at my computer (teach) for a few hours and then I’m free to read, see another daughter, go swimming with my husband, or vegetate with a good book.
I’m working now toward certification as a coach with the International Coach Federation. I’ve been coaching since about 1990 but have never pursued certification. I can’t seem to stop going to school and probably won’t until my brain gives out. But this is a desire, not a need. I am learning many more effective ways to coach than I had been practicing. I’m loving my coaching work in ways I didn’t love it before.
So what is the answer to the question, “Do I keep working because I have to or because I want to?” I keep working because I feel most alive when I’m working. I keep working because I love the interaction with students, consulting and coaching clients, and professional colleagues. I keep working because I’m married to a depression era guy who still wants to save $.02 on every dozen eggs we buy, and I don’t want to live that way. So, the answer is complicated. I love my work and don’t want to give it up. I love my husband and don’t want to fight with him over whether I shop at Trader Joe’s or the warehouse supermarket. I work because I have to, but having to is as much about my psychological make-up as it is about money.