Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Happiness, Snark and the “F” Word

I have spent about a decade and a half as a real, honest-to-goodness, working adult.  In that time, I have stayed in the same general field of education, but have worked in four very different positions in two very different school systems.

And I have complained about every job I have had.

And, of course, at a certain point, I do have to ask whether it is the job that sucks or whether it just might be me.

It is an awfully shitty moment when, as a grown-up, you realize that it isn’t everyone and everything else out there that needs to be fixed.  All the jobs in all the world can’t be awful.  Maybe it ain’t the JOBS that are the problem.


So, what does one do when one is punched in the throat with the hot, sloppy mitts of Reality?

If “one” is “me,” then “one” makes inappropriate jokes, becomes sarcastic to a fault and hides behind the thin veil of snark and other condescention.

I don’t know about you, but I use humor as a defense mechanism.  The problem with this is that everyone just thinks, then, that I am a snotty bitch.  I, however, think that I am hilarious.  I think I know how Joan Rivers must feel.  If she can feel anything with all that plastic shit in her face.

See?  There I go again.

And, so I am left with trying to figure out a better coping skill here.  Throwing around ill-crafted jokery and f-bombs isn’t, in the end, really making me feel that much better.

I take that back.  It does make me feel better.  Plenty better, really.

But, it doesn’t make me HAPPY.  And, I wonder what happiness IS, even.  Not that I’ve never felt it, but I don’t know that I understand it in the way someone like John Stuart Mill or Martin Heidegger would have.

By the way, I am sure that my 200-level philosophy professor will come across this blog post one day and totally take back that “D” he gave me in 1996 because I referenced two dead guys above that I am sure he talked about in class.  Or something.  I don’t know.  I was probably hung over.

Anywho, I am now on the hunt.  I am in search of an explanation as to why I can’t settle my ass into a job, stay put for more than a handful of years, stop complaining about it, eventually retire and move to Tahiti already.  I constantly feel unsettled.  I feel as though I need to “find myself.”  Whatever the crap that means.  I question everyday what I am supposed to do with my life.  Then I make a lame joke about it all.

So, if you are working in a field or at a place that is just amazeballs, I would love to hear about it.  And, hear about when they’ll be interested in hiring a quirky misanthropic wannabe writer.  If you identify with feeling a little lost (despite being all grown up and being of an age when you are totally supposed to have your shit all figured out), let me know I am not alone.

In the mean time, I think there are some bad drivers I haven’t flicked off yet today, so I better hop to it.

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76 thoughts on “Happiness, Snark and the “F” Word

  1. I relate to everything in this post! I work in sales and marketing and I always rock it in the honeymoon phase, but after a while I get restless. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels, or there’s no room in the company for advancement, and I become flat-out bored. I feel like I have a lot to offer, but seem to find myself in situations where my ideas are perceived as threats, and inevitably a foot slides out the door. My husband and I had a conversation not long ago regarding professional fulfillment and happiness. Of course, I cracked a bunch of jokes. Then told him I want to be a writer, writing anything, for anyone, and know that my ideas are appreciated. Ha! I’m not sure that job exists. Or of it does, it pays nothing. After deeper conversation, we decided that my restlessness, initiative, and big picture optimism are all qualities of an entrepreneur. Good news I guess, but it’s much easier said than done. You are definitely not alone. Self-evaluation is not a fun task, but it seems to be unavoidable in situations like this. Hopefully our humor will get us through these shit storms! Best of luck to you! There’s got to be a job out there for gals like us, right???

    • You know, I would love to believe there is a job out there for us! I keep looking in the paper for an ad for a company that is seeking someone to work from 10:00-2:00 Monday through Thursday to shop, drink wine and watch reruns of “Law and Order.” No one is posting that job yet, though, as far as I can tell. What the hell?

  2. I am so totally in the know about this! I am always on the look out for the DREAM job. But I haven’t the foggiest idea what that is!

    • How do the people who name ice cream flavors get those jobs? They have to taste all the ice cream and then come up with the perfect name for it. I am really good at tasting ice cream…

  3. Is there a dream job? I sure haven’t found it yet!!!

  4. Maybe your blog will land you a job for a girl like you! I hope so….

  5. It’s best to find a job that is objectively and obviously terrible (like night-shift poop janitor), because then you can say “Aw, you know. I just do it so I can spend more time with the kids,” and everyone says “WOW, she’s both hard-core and kick-ass.” Vanity-baits!

    Then you can say “I write on the side,” which impresses them, but also they are not surprised that you have completed nothing, because you have no time between the horrible selfless job and all the awesome mothering you do. I say again: Vanity-baits. The most underrated of job perks.

  6. I have a dream job! Taking photos of people jumping for joy around the world 🙂 I love it!

  7. Like SunnySide above, things are great for me when they feel new. But after that, people start getting my finger. A sign it’s time to move on. But a mere change of scenery isn’t, by itself, the answer either. All I can tell you is that creating new and uncomfortable situations keeps things fresh for me. And writing can be a huge motivator for that – the material is endless when you can create a process for shaking things up (not easy to do with the routines of parenting, however). Us adults, for all we say we’ve learned and have accomplished, we really don’t know jack. I’m having to re-learn to do what is natural for my children. And that is to be a child. To be childish. To play, for godsakes. So go make an ass of yourself, on purpose even. Fart when you feel like it, even in elevators. Stop repeating the same boring questions at parties like, “So, Bob, what do you do for a living?” and instead ask, “So, Bob, are you a boob man, a leg man, or an ass man?” (or a similar equivalent for women). Screw behavior norms. The results are worth it. Scary and temporarily embarassing sometimes, but worth it. As far as jobs go, can’t help you there. There’s too much fun to be had and eventually, something will come of all this. That’s my hope at least.

    • I love this advice. Especially in finding out if Bob is a boob man or not. I can think of three Bobs I know and I am sure all three of them are, indeed boob men, but the next party I attend with any if them will most certainly include this question.

      Which will be weird.

      ‘Cuz one of the Bobs I know is my boss.

  8. For me, the answer was to create my own dream job. 🙂 I tutor with private clients and write. No pay yet for writing, but my clients offer enough work that I can work part time more or less.

  9. Jobs aren’t designed to bring happiness or fulfillment. So don’t feel discouraged that all your jobs have sucked; And I don’t think it’s your fault in any way. The job is a necessary evil for you to take care of the things that are really important, like feeding your kids and keeping your family warm during the winter and providing occasional spa days.

    • I have thought about this. The job isn’t my real life. Indeed!

      • Yup. I notice your blog is “Off Duty Mom” not “Disgruntled Teacher” so it sounds like you have your priorities right. 🙂 I think it’s sad today that when someone asks the question “What do you do?” our first instinct is to tell them our job, not our hobbies or our aspirations.

      • Right? As if what we do to earn money is who we are.

        Nevertheless, I actually like my job, but hate the stress, pressure and general bullshit that goes with it. I am restless, not disgruntled. But, the real ME is a mom, wife, wannabe writer, amateur crafter, and snark expert.

  10. You know, there’s a lot of bullshit out there. And it’s all bad for you. I’d say about 93.2% of what people have said about success, career, and a job, is all bullshit.

    It all starts after kindergarten. In kindergarten, you’re given a free ride to socialize and play with toys, be creative, and try eating glue at least once when the teacher isn’t looking. As soon as you get to 1st grade, wham!, organization, rules, and strictness are the order of the day. You can’t borrow a pencil, or help someone draw a picture — you know, the real creative stuff. Nah, you can’t do that anymore. Now it’s: do as you’re told, shut up, and pay attention.

    It’s a huge shock to the child’s system. They told to fall in line, don’t question authority, and don’t speak up until you’re spoken to. What a brilliant way to stop a child from having a can-do, will-do attitude about life. Speak when spoken to. How often do bosses really give a shit about what their employees think of their work? They don’t care; they just tell you to shut up and do your fucking job.

    So, this notion that we should all fall in line and listen to the rules only serves to keep the people with authority in power. They make the rules, we follow them, they get what they want, we get a miniscule portion, say thank you, and croak over without anything to leave our family when we pass away with alzheimers or schizophrenia at the age of 75.

    What they don’t tell you in school is that breaking the rules is how rich people became rich in the first place; they challenged the standard. They made the standard their way. They took control. In school and work, they don’t want the students and workers to have control. They don’t want that. Means less money for them. They want you to remain obedient for the remainder of their lives, just so they can keep going to the bank.

    As a kid, I hated being in school. Not because I wasn’t any good at it — I average a 3.2 all through college — but because I hated the apathetic and indifferent attitude. My teachers did nothing about the problems until it threatened their standing. Your boss won’t do anything about problems — like, say, how much money you earn — until it threatens their standing. Like, I don’t know, higher taxes?

    Anyway. This idea of how to succeed is rooted in the assumption that if you follows the rules, things will work out. And that’s the illusion they give you. It’s not real. You’ll just get by, and have nothing. I figure, well, if I’ll have nothing then, and waste my life making that other guy rich, why not have nothing now and stop making him rich?

    It’s not rooted in revenge or anything; just pure fucking common sense. Remember, there is no “I” in team, but there is in Individual, Independence and Integrity.

    Last, remember that the rich, wealthy and powerful aren’t patient. You won’t get anywhere sitting around hoping for some dream job to fall out of the sky. They don’t exist. Any job that has you working for a wage set by someone else where they can just throw your ass out, is no job at all.

  11. Oh pick me pick me. I have the answer to the question of why…because you’re destined to be treated like a queen and never have to work. Your destiny knows it but forgot to tell your bank account. That happens sometimes, just give destiny a slap and you can start your life in Tahiti with people waiting on you hand and foot.


  12. I think alittle snark and f finger is good for the soul occasionally. Opium is bad enough to kill a person if used enough. Haha great post and congrats on getting pressed

  13. I remember a study a friend of mine researched during his anthropology major. The researchers had found that suicide rates were highest in countries with conflicted social values (i.e. here in the US we claim to value equal opportunity, but the statistics show we mean equality for white males). The researchers had found that those countries were clustered mainly in the developed world.

    Most of us aren’t getting ready to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge precisely, but that same conundrum of values plagues us nonetheless. We live on a cusp: on the one hand, for survival and family, we’re forced into the feudal system of western economy and, on the other, we’re educated enough to know life means more than we’ve achieved, that we were not meant to be serfs.

    So, hell, you want a job that might make you a bit happier? The revolution is always recruiting! All you gotta do is keep posting hard. Oh, and f-bombs are encouraged.

  14. I felt like this 5 years ago, I worked in Human Resourses…I just sort of floated in that direction, I never decided that was what I wanted to do, I just ended up doing it…at first it s ok but disciplining people for being persistantly 3 minutes late, was a bit strong when I was usually 10 mins late…my job was just being a pandantic (my phone wanted to say panda tic, which would be a better job!) prick and being fairly disorganised and laid back it didn’t suit me…I hated it…although there where some interesting incidents I dealt with, like the bloke who crapped in his bosses lunch box…and the manager of one shop who got naked in front of his staff???!!! But I knew what I really wanted to do was be an actress..yes that old chestnut…but I really really did and nothing would stop me from wanting it.I did amateur stuff but I wanted more! It was my dad who said I should go and do a degree in performing arts, he believed I was good enough, so at 28 I went to university, 3 years later I left with a first class honours degree and I now own a theatre school and a theatre company! We wrote our own stuff and we’re starting to get a bit of a following!! 🙂 we make next to no money, but I know that one day we will because we’re determined and we’re pretty good (if I do say so myself) but even if we never make any money or get anywhere at least I will know I tried and I love my job! Follow your dreams, there’s a reason you’re hankering for something else. (I’m not the oracle, or god, just in case you thought I was) just a thought 🙂

  15. I like it. You may be right, maybe the f bombs don’t help! I actually fell (not literally) into my job because I was at a loose end and saw an ad on an agency site and thought, that might be nice. That’s the way I pick my boyfriends too – no rationality involved. ANyway, this worked out much better than my love life does-it’s part time (4 day weekend for me), non-hierarchical, is in an area that I find interesting (old people’s stuff) and morally satisfying (community sector, helpful), and there’s not a lot of bureaucratic stuff or office politics. On the flip side, it’s only at this stage of my life that I can afford the relatively low pay. So..I don’t know, make a change, leave places you don’t like much, take a few risks and eventually you’ll come across the perfect job, just laying there provocatively!

  16. Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test? You might be an ENFP. I’m also an ENFP and I’m constantly searching for something better, for my “center”. It might just be a personality flaw…

  17. I feel this post. I feel it up and down. I go to third base with this post. Okay…enough perversion. I, too, was a teacher. Loved TEACHING, hated everything else about it….especially that prick who liked to call himself “my boss.” Anyway, I left, and now I’m a FT Mom. It just wasn’t my cup of tea, mainly because I spent very little time actually “teaching” and a whole lot of time doing other shitty stuff! I tried it at two different schools for over four years total. I tried. I guess my point is that it’s okay to walk away from something that no longer makes you happy. As my hubby always says to me in his mock-teasing manner, “Don’t carry guilt with it.”

  18. nosalesclub on said:

    i feel the same way in jobs- but my honeymoon phase lasts less than three weeks before i have total meltdown and get fired/quit.

    frankly… if i knew about the knida job you mention… id keep it for myself =P

  19. Pingback: Happiness, Snark and the “F” Word | birdmanps

  20. I have my dream job – I’m a dolphin trainer!
    Not really, just wondered what it would feel like to say that. Pretty good, as it happens…
    Great post!

  21. I think what attracted me to your blog was the title. I thought you might be talking about that. Actually, there’s no such thing as an off duty mum (mom). It’s like belonging to the mafia, it can leave you with a gold watch and a handshake for a job well done, but once you’ve joined you can never leave it. Believe me, I should know, I’m a grandma.
    PS. Swear all you like, it will do you good. 🙂

  22. Reblogged this on House Windows.

  23. Hi there, I have felt the same way about so many jobs…over so many years…so now I’m trying to focus on living a well-rounded life, and being a well-rounded person, instead of being fixated on one aspect (eg. ‘work’, ‘kids’ or however you identify). We wear so many different hats each day and have so many quirks and qualities, so it seems silly that we define ourselves so narrowly. ‘We are always in the process of becoming’ is a quote that I think about a lot. I like to think that there is no ‘end-date’ to our development, we are never ‘finished’, so then each job or phase of life is just another exciting piece of the puzzle. Now that I’ve started writing, I can also say to myself that all the crazy jobs I’ve had will make for great material…bad reality, sure, but great material!

    • Wow. I totally identify with you here. I think the reason I struggle sometimes is because I can’t seem to find the right balance. It isn’t the job, perhaps, that gets me down, but when a job sucks me too far out of balance, it becomes very frustrating.

      It all does make for good inspiration, though!

  24. I will be happy to blog

  25. mdprincing on said:

    great stuff and I know how you feel. We must eventually stumble upon our calling but if not booze, vulgarity and a good joke helps get me through the day.

  26. good stuff.. its never easy

  27. Omg, I don’t want this to sound completely and terribly horrible, but I might end up becoming you. 😐

  28. Your frustration is not uncommon (if nothing else I share it as well). Thanks for taking the time to remind me that I am not alone in my struggles. Take care.

  29. I like your snark, but at the risk of sounding sensible, maybe it’s time to look at what you really want. Not just grown-up job sounding and all, but what makes you feel good about yourself.
    I find happiness a loaded word and constantly elusive. Go with your strengths and stay away from plastic surgery.
    Congrats on the FP too!

  30. I never minded working (much) until I had kids. Now I feel I have two full time jobs and that really stresses me the fuck out. There’s never enough time for anything to be done well. I identify with everything you said and often wonder if it’s me or them.

    • I feel the same way. I actually quite enjoyed working (even if there were always things to complain about regarding the job or my boss) before becoming a mom.

      Two jobs is totally overwhelming. Now, I don’t want to stay home full time, either. That would stress ME way the fuck out. But, it is that balance I can’t seem to find. How are other women making this work so much better than I am? Or are they faking it?

  31. Pingback: Happiness, Snark and the “F” Word | Parrots, Prose, and Peanuts

  32. Great post, and congratulations for being freshly pressed! I have finally found my dream job- trailing spouse on an ex-pat assignment in Paris! I hope you get as lucky!

  33. You are not alone. Bruce

  34. I went from the Navy to college to a craptastic retail compromise job in place of staying home with my kids full time (which is what I wanted to do), to law school. My goal is to be a public defender, a job that is definitely not all about the extrinsic rewards–except it can’t be worse than counting Walmart’s money for a living. I’m 35. I still want to be an astronaut when I grow up, or maybe a hippie in a commune–a cult commune where everyone does things my way, all the time.

  35. Sister, where have you been all my life? Congrats on fresh press. Roll in the thrill of it like a dog in raccoon poop.

  36. This is wonderful news for a university student already hiding behind un-pc humour and words. I can look forward to a life of being unable to settle and accept stability without being sarky and making far, far too many jokes.

    Hope you find a job that is objectively good though and stuff, if such a thing exists. It kinda sums up the world we live in that things can always be objectively terrible but rarely objectively awesome. Except Bruce Lee. He was. Vanilla Ice was not.

    • Look at it this way: you GET to have a life of being snarky and making far, far too many jokes.

      I hope I find what I am looking for, too, even though I don’t really know what that is. I guess I am just tired of having to choose between feeling fulfilled and actually having money.

  37. Using humor is the way that I have tackled my son’s turbulent adoption process (Lifetime movie where unknown relative comes out of the woodwork after 18 months), my son’s sensory & social challenges (reminiscent of the Land of Misfit Toys), and being a working mother riddled with unbelievable guilt.

    Just yesterday, I grew frustrated about the time that an impromptu Safety Committee meeting was taking. We were going over and over the High Winds warning document for our school and portables. I couldn’t stand it and finally I said, “What if we just agree to put ‘If the portable’s a rockin’ don’t come a knockin!”. I couldn’t help myself…

    • We have to get through the day somehow, right? And, being a working mom is so tough. It is nearly impossible to find a good balance. Let me know if you learn the secret and release some guilt. I’d love to know how to do it!

  38. Pingback: The best blogs you've never read... |

  39. stayawhileletschat on said:

    Hello, I checked in here because the picture of your post showed the Polish President who died in a car crash… I thought your post was about that….. I guess it’s just a coincidence you used his picture for your post and no one picked up on it…..
    I did like your post though.

  40. stayawhileletschat on said:

    I mean a plain crash in April of 2010…. sorry…

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