Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gone to the dogs

I held my last dog training class the other night. My very last one ever for the foreseeable future. My students all graduated but it was an advanced level class with a Canine Good Citizen test at the end.

No one passed the test.

I'm trying not to feel completely responsible for their less than stellar performances. I was their trainer after all, and their success and failure reflects on me as a teacher. Or something like that.

I'm over it now.

What I'm not over is the idea that I am no longer employed.

I decided awhile ago I was not going back to teaching classes once this one was done, at least not until this Chicklet is born and out of her lumpy phase. In one capacity or another, I've been teaching for the past five years and I need a break. You probably don't realize how much pressure there is in teaching, of all things, dog training, but it's a lot more stressful than you think. Stressful and wonderful. Recently I'd cut back my hours so much that I was literally only working about three to five hours a week so I feel like I've weaned myself off the job pretty well. But I still can't settle on the fact that I'm unemployed. That I'm simply a stay at home mom now.

This is the part where you really give it to me. Being a mom is a job, you'll insist, a full time job. A full time job with constant overtime and very few perks, like sick days and, if we're being really pesky, money, but a job nonetheless. The hardest job you'll ever love.

Cough cough wheeze cough choke choke cough

Believe me, I've bought into all that propaganda too. But the fact remains, I've been working since I was thirteen and with the exception of a few months after my first wedding when I quit my job and I had this silly little breakdown that drove me into a deep pit of depression, I've never been unemployed.

Oh, I never told you about my breakdown? It's not one of those things I like to bring up. It tends to put a damper on the conversation when I try to bring it up between the coffee and the cookies. Can you pass the sugar - yeah I had a slight nervous breakdown and didn't really leave my apartment for two months all because I quit my job after I married the wrong man and my life was in a dizzy spinning vortex of confusion - and the half and half too? Thanks.

So you can see why I'm a little freaked out about not having a job.

I am defined by my job. I like working. I like contributing to society and pulling in my own paycheck, even if it is pitifully small. I like going to dinner parties and having something else to talk about besides my kid. And believe me, tell people you're a dog trainer and you'll have a party buddy all night.

In the short term I'll be putting my business cards out there and taking a few private clients but I don't think that will really take off until after the baby is born. It's getting kind of hard to get down on the floor with a wriggly puppy to teach him to sit with this basketball in my abdomen getting in my way. In the long term I still see myself owning my own business.

In the meantime, I need my fix. I'd hate to accost some unsuspecting person on the street about their dog, so send me your dog questions and I'll be happy to answer them on this here blog. I let the other site lapse so let's move it here. I'll be the Dog Lady and we'll have an "Ask the Dog Lady" post every once and awhile. I'm just brainstorming off the top of my head here, but I like the sound of this. And how often do you get advice like that for free?

Send them to my email (see it up there? In the upper right corner? Up a little higher... Yeah, that's it.) and I'll hook you up. You'll be doing me a favor. No, really. You'll probably be doing my neighbors a favor too because if I have to only deal with their psychotic, out of control Chihuahuas that are never on leash, things could get ugly.


motherbumper said...

Damn girl, we have more in common than I thought (pass the sugar again, and did I ever mention I had a complete breakdown? Now that IS a conversation stopper). Anyhow, no dog questions just a big hand of support from another woman who hasn't been "unemployed" since she was 15. It gets easier, I swear.

Jess said...

I identify with this.

I've been working part-time (at times none at all) for three years now - and I'm almost afraid of losing myself.

I love my little wiggly people but good lord do I need adult conversation and...I feel more productive doing adult stuff.

I surprise a lot of people who ask me (everyone seems to think I chose to be a pseudo-stay-at-home-mom) by saying 'No, I'm not working enough.'

And then there's the whole bit about how I feel like I'm a better mom if I have a break and I'm focused on other things part of the day. (Ducks flames sure to be shot my way by someone)

I will be sending in the comments about my disobedient dog who may be dumb as toast. We're not sure.

Heather said...

I don't have a dog, but if I did, you'd be the first I'd call for training. How's that?

Blog Antagonist said...

Oh, I understand completely. I've been a Mom for 13 years, and I've not held a job in all that time. For a long time it was okay, but now that my boys are older, I feel a little lost. As you know. I think you're smart to protect that part of yourself and keep it just for you.

You're going to be okay. Just think of it as a little break.

OhTheJoys said...

Have I got a job for you!

Okay I'm kidding.


I totally get it.

I don't have any answers for you, but I get it.

Heather B. said...

I've been unemployed twice. I filled the time with golf, shopping, lunch and drinking. So yeah...I'm thinking only the shopping and the lunching will do for you at this point. I am so freaking helpful. I know.

Anonymous said...

So, your first question is, "Can you teach an old dog new tricks?"

He's only 4, but if I could manage to get a good nights sleep without his feet in my back (I don't mind him in the bed, he's warm!), I'd be pretty dog-gone (hee!) happy.

Julie Marsh said...

And that is exactly why I turned blogging into a job.

(If I somehow lose my mind and acquire a dog in the near future, you can bet I'll be full of questions for you.)

Lisa said...

After I quit my job to do this mom gig, I started having these wierd, scary dreams where I'd realize I had a child to support. THen I'd realize I had no job, no car and no money. And that I also had no computer to update my resume and obviously no way to get to an interview. Once I had the same sort of dream, only I was in college and had to also take care of my siblings as well as my son. It was wierd. I still have those dreams here and there. But es, can completely understand how that is... Especially when you've been earning your own money for such a long time and take great pride in doing so.

Am SO sending you questions. Abbeydog is 9. I get the feeling even tho Seth is almost 6, she's STILL waiting for me to take him back to where he came from so she can be the only baby again.

Creative-Type Dad said...

Gosh, I've been working since I was....well, born.
My parents thought I was a freeloader.

I've got a question - my beagle doesn't like to play at all. He just wants nothing to do with "people"?

Avalon said...

Mrs C~~~~ NO one passed??? Wow. Did they ever show up for class?

Seriously. I would so love to have a private instructor like you for my pooches. After taking the " family dog " class with the 3rd one, it gets a little old.

Now, on to that little issue with barking.......

Anonymous said...

I am going to be the suck ass friend and turn this into something all about me. Really? I can send you as many dog questions as I like? Really? Cause I suck at dog parenting worse than I suck at kid parenting and I need some help sister. I need so much help that you won't have time to go back to work. Ever.

But I do get this. When I took my maternity leave and was unemployed for the first time ever in the "paycheck sense of the word" ... it was a tough, tough transition.

Hugs to you.

Emails with too many questions for the Dog Lady coming now ....

The Spunky Mommy said...

Well, best of luck to you. I admit that I have some envy - I would give anything to give the corporate world a break for a bit and tend to my little munchkin, but life is cruel and it's not meant to be. In my next life I want to be either a dog trainer or own a doggie daycare though! Congrats on the decision - I'm sure it was a hard one and good luck with your next adventure in life!

mo-wo said...

Hey - you big post stealer!!!! Stay tuned..

Especially that continuous employment/breadwinner thing.

And confidence, oy!

Stop hacking my drafts SMARTYPANTS!

Anonymous said...

I went from earning the lion share of the paycheck and being the big bread winner to the chick who depended on her man's paycheck in the blink of an eye.

It wasn 't pretty. I won't lie to you. I love you too much. But I did slowly learn to readjust who I thought I was and slowly became accustomed to the life of leisure I now enjoy.

That and I work three months a year, full time at a green house. That helps too.

The good news is, you will be run ragged with two kiddies soon enough and that WILL help the transition. Not your mood, cuz you're sure to be a bit of a grouch if I know my Chicky, but nonetheless, it will help.

And I will send you a question about Nixon, the World's Greatest Dog, Ever. because I think I screwed him up. Shocking, I know.

Quit laughing at me.

Kara said...

Wow- I was reading this at first being all "I can't believe she doesn't have to work for pay and is complaining about it." I guess the grass is always greener- and this post shows why we women who were taught that we could have it all are always going to be conflicted when we decide to focus on one thing instead of all of it. There are many, many, many women who are envious of your position- fertile, happily married, financially stable, smokin' hottt-I hope you take some time to meditate on that as well. I wish I could have stayed home when Kiddo was born, we just couldn't swing it financially.

You have an incredibly rare opportunity to return to the work force on your own terms and in your own time. That, my friend, is power. You could even say that that's what having it all is all about.

kittenpie said...

I get this, I do. I would have issues with not having a job to call my own too, for all the same reasons. I've always had a job, since I was 14, and my job is part of me as much as being a mother is. I think they compliment each other well, actually, in many ways. But you know what? Taking a year off after Pumpkinpie was born was a great thing, and it was at about 10 months that I started to feel like I was ready to go back and she was ready to go out into the world. So cut yourself a break, take a stint to really mother, and call it a mat leave. Here, we have a year. Why shouldn't you, one way or another? Why not even more? When you need it, when it's right for you, you'll decide to go back. Meanwhile, you're right, you have a yourself a proper mat leave. Tell 'em that's how the canucks do it.

carrie said...

I'll be sending the Dog Lady a question post haste!

Stimey said...

I completely get this. I floundered for a long time trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life (did some dog work too). Then I had my first kid and I just kind of stayed home. And I had an incredibly hard time with that. I do part time work from home now. It's amazing the difference it made in my psyche.

I have the world's most annoying dog, so I'm sure I'll have questions for you. Oooh, ooooh! Like how do you stop the furry monster from running out of your door and going exploring? And once she's out, how do you get her back before she runs all the way to the freeway?

Velma said...

I get it, too. Unfortunately, the thing that freed me from that mindset is not what I want for other moms, because it was only when it became obvious that Peanut had some developmental delays that I suddenly stopped identifying as an ex-paralegal and on-line boutique owner.

But don't forget, you are still a dog expert, just on hiatus.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I totally understand----for a long time, I LOVED working out of the home, even after my first was born. Even now, I would love to find SOMETHING that would give me even an teeny weeny paycheck, but I don't think I have the time for much at all. At least you have a very, very marketable skill that can be turned into something part time, full time or whatever.

We are getting so itchy to get a dog, but it'll be a while before I have any questions to ask you.

Ruth Dynamite said...

I have opinions about all this, you know, being someone who "didn't work" outside the home for six years, with very mixed feelings about it all.

You'll figure it out, but it ain't easy. And you know, I'm just a phone call away. I will say this: if you can, keep a pinky toe in the mix. Just a pinky. I think it's a smart move for a number of reasons.

Here's a question: You know I have a fat, old, but lovable dog who suffers from allergies. I'm wondering if Household Cleaning Products might be contributing to my dog's itchiness???

I've used eco-friendly cleaners recently and she's been A-OK. What do you think, Dog Maven? Could commercial cleaners be harming my dog?

Daisy said...

No dog questions, sorry -- I have a rabbit. Three rabbits, actually. But I would like to send you virtual good thoughts and wishes for a peaceful easy feeling as you spend time at home with your new little one.