LTJ: What’s my Job?

Posted on February 4, 2011

If you are an Oprah fan, you may have seen her program some months ago concerning “first jobs.”  A few celebrities returned to their initial occupations so we might see their humble beginnings.  Kirste Alley began her career by cleaning houses.  She demonstrated her skill on national TV by cleaning a bathroom with Comet while wearing rubber gloves.  She also claimed that cheap Vodka was the best bathroom cleanser. “Don’t drink it, just clean with it,” she stated.  I decided to skip that tip.  Oprah started as a TV news anchor.

It caused me to wonder about my first job.  Problem is, I can’t figure out what it was.  Is there truly only one beginning job?  As a 15-year-old, I took over my mother’s Avon route while she worked another job.  No one cared if you had a license while driving our dusty, old county roads. At 16 years old, I accepted a summer job in town as a waitress and at 17, I worked those hot summer months as a nanny before heading off to college. But if a first job is the one you spend all those years at the university studying and training for, then mine would be teaching English, Spanish and French to junior high and high school students.

But then came motherhood!  Nothing like a newborn baby to put your priorities in order and cut a career short.   A couple of years after my first child was born, I quit teaching and worked at a variety of part-time jobs in order to stay home with my children.  Through the years, I worked as a tutor, substitute teacher and real estate agent.  I also sold Tupperware, Mary Kay Cosmetics and toys on a party plan.  I even worked at a hardware store. 

So now I am wondering which was my first real job according to Oprah.  Was it selling Avon to the women in the little farming community where I grew up?  Might it have been my first teaching assignment?  Or maybe it was waiting tables in that steamy little café.  After all, I did continue that profession during the summers of my
college years.

So what is my true calling?  What do I consider my real job?  Well, I would have to say it is motherhood.  Life changed forever when I held my seven-pound, eight-ounce baby boy in my arms for the first time.  I had never felt such overwhelming love.  It was like my heart was beating outside my body in this tiny soul.  Those feelings repeated themselves with the birth of each child.  Motherhood has plenty of love to spread around, and you never outgrow it nor do you ever retire from it.

So what was the purpose of all those other jobs?  What did they do for me?  Every one of them added a new depth to my character and gave me an outlet for helping others.  Through those jobs I learned responsibility, integrity and leadership skills that could never be taught in a classroom.  And as a bonus, those varied jobs provided great fodder for writing fiction and non-fiction stories that I never dreamed would one day become a reality for me. 

So yes, I’m a teacher, writer, speaker, advocate and a slew of other things.  But best of all, I’m a mom, and it will always be my real job!

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