Sunday, July 4, 2010

It's official

I am no longer a Foreign Service officer.

It's strange to see those words in black and white (or eggplant and cream, as the case may be).  Throughout my school years, though I had other ambitions  -- you know, rock star, astronaut, music teacher -- the Foreign Service was always my second, constant, choice.  I took the written test while still in college.  I didn't pass that time and ended up going into journalism.  But I decided to take it again a couple years later, and prepared by studying up on economics, since I was pretty sure that had been my weak point the first time.  The oral came along while I was living in Alaska and during a time when I was perfectly content with my life, but I decided to fly to Seattle and take the test anyway.  As it turned out, I passed.  Nine months later, "the call" with an offer to join an A-100 class was perfectly timed, as I had recently decided that reporting was not for me and was looking into other options.

I have truly loved being an FSO.  There are few other jobs in this life that give you the opportunity to serve your country, do interesting work, and live in far-flung places all at the same time.  Armenia was a terrific first tour.  It was a fascinating place, and the embassy was small enough that I was handed some great assignments during my two years there.  I probably shouldn't admit that, had I not joined the Foreign Service, I would probably only have a vague idea where Armenia is.  I certainly never would have met its foreign and defense ministers.  I never would have seen Kabul International Airport (nor been a witness to then-Sen. Joe Lieberman making his dinner at the embassy cafeteria salad bar).  I wouldn't have met my husband. 

So resigning was not an easy choice.  I have debated it for the last few months.  As I have always truly believed in staying at home with my children at least until they are school-aged, I was surprised at how hard it was to let go of my working identity.  The news that we are expecting a second child this fall, and the knowledge that, as a trailing spouse, I would still live the life I love, made the choice a bit easier.  Ultimately, it was the best decision for our family.

And now I get to complete the FS-family trifecta: minor dependent, employee, and finally, trailing spouse.  Right now, my focus is going to be on the babies.  But when we get this parenting thing down (we will get it down, right?) and the kids are a bit older, I might go back.  Or maybe start career #3.  Novelist?  Pastry chef?  Music teacher?  The world is, once again, my oyster.  It's exhilarating.  I'm a lucky girl.


  1. I would be happy to taste test anything that comes with your third career of pastry chef. You should totally do the Julia Child route!

  2. I've been in your shoes... a couple years ago now... and quitting to be a SAHM was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I still feel guilty when I hear about how busy things are, but our kids are totally worth it, and I know I made the right choice. Being a full-time mom is the best job I've ever held. Congrats on your new career. :)

  3. I'm starting to think that trailing spouse is the best job in State. *grin* All the perks. . . Staying home with my kiddos has been important to me, too. . . but I've also been the woh mom and, you know. . . both are hard in their own ways. Both are rewarding in their own ways.

    As my kids are getting older, it has become more stark just how short a time we have with them at home, how short each stage of development is.

    If you are like me, you'll have days where you really miss the affirmation of others (clients, boss, others) about how GREAT a job you do, how INVALUABLE you are. I don't get that at as much at home. Sometimes I think I suck at being a mom. Other days. . . it is a real joy. But overall, it really is worth it. . .

    (And "second careers" after motherhood? Wide open. . .)

  4. I can imagine how difficult this choice was, but I respect it tremendously.

  5. Congrats on making a tough choice. I turned down an offer to be an FSO twice and it was just such a painful thing to do.

    Hey, we were posted in Armenia and Moscow, too. Did our paths cross?

  6. What a brave choice. Good for you. I'm just starting my path as a trailing spouse and I think I already agree with Tulipgirl that its the best job in State. Best wishes during yet another transitional experience.

  7. Good decision, but we'll miss you (although not really because, as you point out, you're sticking around anyway).

    You should sell "authentic" soviet submarine commander watches or something at Izmailovsky Rynok as a 3rd career. You can just put Natasha on your back and go.

  8. The term "trailing spouse" is aweful. It's like he's dragging you around. I'm not sure that "military wife" has a better ring to it, but you should coin a new term for it to indicate it's importance.


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