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My Canniversary

Canniversary(colloquial) noun:a year from the date on which you were fired from a job[Source: www.urbandictionary.com]

We generally think of birthdays and anniversaries as milestones to be celebrated. At same time, these dates offer us opportunities to look back on the year that has passed and plan ahead for the coming year.

I recently celebrated my canniversary – it has been one year since I began my period of unemployment.This year marks the first time in my adult life– and if you count babysitting and summer jobs, the first time since my 12th birthday– that I have not worked.Of course, I did work odd jobs throughout the year, including substitute teaching and a five week summer camp gig, and since January I have been volunteering weekly at a local food pantry.Still, my canniversary proclaims that the process of “redirecting my career” has spilled over into a second year without steady income.

A friend of mine shared a wonderful insight about how this change in employment status affected her: We were raised with certain parental expectations, namely, that we would go college, get a masters degree or other professional training, and begin a career in our chosen professions.This period of transition is difficult because we are breaking boundaries, making new choices, defying expectations.

Fifteen years ago I wondered whether I was “mother” material. Now I am a stay-at-home mom, choosing not to work full time this year so that my teenager who is starting high school will not come home to an empty house. I often struggle with guilt about this choice, as I am not contributing financially to the family’s budget. But juggling the part time and volunteer commitments that I have made, along with the schedules of three children and a spouse, is a full time job. Recognizing this as my work, although it cannot be measured quantitatively with salary scales and promotions and scheduled vacation time, I feel relieved of a great burden. This canniversary was a time to reflect on life’s many transitions and a moment of joyous celebration of the life that I am now leading.

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