Monday, April 6, 2009

More Answers!

Lucy Marie asked: What has surprised you most about marriage that you didn't expect?

This was a hard question, Lucy. I really had to sit down and think about this...and the answer itself actually surprised me a bit! To be honest, since getting married, I have found myself falling into some very traditional wife roles - cooking dinner all the time, baking, cleaning, you name it - if it's domestic, I seem to be doing it - more than ever before. Mr. Smith and I lived together for over a year before we got married - but it wasn't until after we made things legal that I have found myself becoming this domesticated woman that sometimes I don't even know. Hmmm. I am suddenly concerned about myself...! :)

Kilax asked: I remember you talked about your counseling job, and I wondered how you got interested in doing that - how you got there.

Well, it was a long and winding road, that's for sure! I graduated with my Masters in Social Work (from the University of Michigan - go blue!) in 2005, and immediately moved to Washington, DC for a family therapy job. My job was to do court-ordered, in-home therapy for families at risk of having their kids removed by Child Protective Services. This job SUCKED. I lasted three weeks before quitting to spend 4 months job searching while nannying and working at Anthropologie. The job itself was doable - but I felt extremely unsafe. I was put into unsafe situations, unsafe neighborhoods, unsafe everything - alone, in a new city. It was all wrong, and I knew it.

After four months, I found a job as a therapeutic foster care social worker in NE DC. There are two types of foster children: therapeutic and traditional. Traditional are, well, exactly what they sounds like - "normal" kids. Therapeutic foster children are kids with a DSM diagnosis - namely, kids who have some sort of diagnosis, be it a mental health issue (depression, bi-polar, etc), learning disability, the works. I had 11 kids on my caseload, ages 5 through 18. I was their legal guardian. It was...intense. I was on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I got called at midnight by the police, saying that they had found my kids places...and I'd have to go pick them up. I made almost weekly school visits for all of my kids, and participated in IEP meetings for all of them (they were all special ed, and had Individual Educational Plans). I also spent several hours a week in court attending continuancy hearings. It was an incredibly emotional, stressful job...but I learned so much about social work, social justice, the legal system, child protection, child abuse, foster care, education...everything.

Of course...when my dream job as a hospital social worker fell into my lap, I walked away from it all with barely a look back. I spent nine months as a foster care social worker...and I think I aged about nine years! After those strenuous nine months, my job as a social work case manager at a university hospital in DC seemed very cushy. At first, of course. Haha. Every job seems good at first, right? :) At the hospital, I feel as though I did very little "real social work, " as we like to call it. Instead, I functioned more as a liaison - between patients and the medical team, patients and the insurance companies, patients and nursing homes, patients and home healthcare companies, etc etc etc. I spent hours upon hours copying paperwork and faxing. And hours on the phone with health insurance companies. Oooooh, health insurance companies. How I hate you. As with any for-profit company, our work as social workers was often overshadowed by the financial bottom line, which grew increasingly stressful as we tried to do our part in advocating for our patients. That being said, I loved working at the hospital. I enjoyed interacting with the doctors and nurses, and I loved how professional the atmosphere was - a big change from the nonprofit atmosphere.

That being said...I was getting stressed out. The days were extremely long, and I was starting to miss working with kids. It was at around this time that Mr. Smith and I started entertaining the idea of moving back to Indiana. He was a few months away from getting out of the Army, and wanted to go back to graduate school. We were both up for the adventure, so we moved - kind of by the seat of our pants. I had been looking for jobs in the newspaper for awhile and saw the posting for this job - it seemed perfect for me. I had worked in an alternative high school as part of my graduate school internship, and I loved it. I thought that this would be a great time to get back in the school system again!

So, I applied. Miraculously, I got called for an interview...and I went the day after we moved to Indiana. So - on a Tuesday, we drove 11 hours from Alexandria, VA to Bloomington, IN. On Wednesday, I went for my interview. On Thursday, I drove 6 more hours up to Michigan and spent the weekend at my parents house for my bridal shower. While I was there, I found out that they wanted to have me back for a second interview! I had the second interview the following week, and was hired immediately. Fabulous!

So, that's how I ended up here. I work in the guidance office, as a specialized school counselor who works with high school students who are failing three or more classes, have truancy problems, discipline issues, and/or are behind on credits. I have a caseload of about 70 students. Often, my job is extremely frustrating. But I love my kids and I love the challenge.

This ended up being a pretty long answer...any follow up questions, let me know!


Anonymous said...

I found your blog at the perfect time. These Q & A posts are always fun!

I'm not married yet, but I can relate to what you said about taking on a more domestic role. I was surprised to discover how much I actually enjoyed cooking, baking, sewing, and other domestic tasks.

d.a.r. said...

Wooowww. I worked for the last year prosecuting child abuse/neglect cases and suffice to say I have tons of respect for social workers who do those cases. It is intense and emotionally exhausting!

kilax said...

I found myself feeling the EXACT same way after marriage. And it felt SO WEIRD.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. What an interesting history of jobs you've had. The first one did sound risky and scary, reading about it. And I cannot imagine the stress of being ANYONE'S legal guardian! You are an angel in disguise. Do you think you'll stay at the school for awhile?

Sara said...

Hello there! I am a fellow social worker (but I work in oncology/health care). Your first job sounds EXACTLY like what my friend does in DC! I bet you two work(ed) for the same company.

I love social work - it's such a diverse field. I don't think people truly realize all it encompasses - we are not just baby snatching do-gooders who work for the government!