My Work Dilemma

Now that we have been in Israel for almost six months, I am feeling settled enough to start thinking about my career. Up until this point, I have been consumed by all the aliyah transitions and obstacles. There was no space left on my plate to deal with my job decisions. The truth is, I do not even know what I want to do.

The way I see it, I have two main options. First is go back to being an Occupational Therapist. This requires studying and passing an Israeli board exam before I can even look for work. Most jobs would require Hebrew so I would also need to take ulpan prior to working. The second option is to try to find some sort of work from home position doing something completely new. This could be an English speaking job, so language would be less of an issue.

The language issue really scares me. If I work as an occupational therapist, I want to be viewed as a professional by staff and parents. How could I do that while fumbling through a conversation? Yes, I can take ulpan, but I am not confident that I will be fluent enough to feel good about my written and verbal language skills as a professional. I know people say that the best way to learn the Hebrew is to immerse yourself and just start working, but I still feel nervous about it.

The next issue to consider is working outside the home. I started working just after my first child was born and have been working 30+ hours a week ever since. Somehow, despite the work and travel time, I was able to drop off and pick up my kids from school, do the cooking and housework and even have time to socialize once in a while. Laundry and errands were primarily done on Sundays. To sum it up, I managed while working outside the home. But, life is different now. Now that I have been a stay-at-home mom for these past 6 months, I have spent more quality time with my children. When they get home from school, I sit with them while they eat their happy home snack and talk about their day. I usually do not have to multi task dinner cooking, shower time and homework all at once. Since I am home while they are in school, the house is more organized, and the meals are ready for them when they come home. I am not sure I am ready to go back to the harried life of working outside the home. I dread rushing in with the kids for the first time all day, running to the kitchen to start dinner, while asking kids about their days and directing homework from the other room. Now I am able to sit and help translate homework assignments, and study for tests with review sheets in Hebrew. Having the extra time at home allows me to be more present. With all the extra stresses and difficulties of aliyah, I need to be more available. They need more undivided attention. Working as much as I did in America does not seem like a feasible option.

If I choose a work from home option, what would it be? I do not even know where to start. I am not even sure what type of work I would be looking for. My professional skills are mostly as an occupational therapist, but can I reinvent myself to be something else?

It is quite a dilemma for me. In fact, I do not know which choice I would rather. In America, I was a pediatric occupational therapist. I loved it. I always said that I loved my job and helping children live more independent lives. My husband used to complain that he felt that his jobs had little meaning. I was always proud to say that I did not feel the same way. Being in a helping profession means that doing my work feels like a chesed. When I see a student make progress toward their goals and really improve their quality of life, I feel so blessed to be part of that. I am not sure if I will be able to feel this passionate about a work from home position in a different field. Maybe I can find a creative outlet, or something that will help people, but will it be the same?

I am not sure which path to pursue. Should I go with my professional experience in the field I know and love? Should I try to make our lives work while I juggle my work outside the home? Or, should I look for something completely new and different? Should I try to find something that will allow me to be home and present more with my children? Is there a job that could be both? Could I help people while being home to take care of my children? Could I feel productive and proud of my work while doing it from home? This is my dilemma!