Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On Bittersweet Changes


If you follow me on Instagram, you likely already saw my "big announcement" on Election Day. However, I saved my actual blog announcement for today because today is officially my last day at work. The job I love. For the last three weeks, I've been in this weird purgatory of returning from maternity leave, only to say my official goodbye. I came back because I love my position and I wanted to help with the transition. But I was left feeling kind of useless and unnecessary, which is not a particularly good feeling when you've poured three years of your heart and soul into work that sets your soul ablaze.


To back up, I had every intention of returning to work after taking my 12-week maternity leave. We had a temporary childcare arrangement set up for the first month or two with the hope that it would become permanent. I was expecting to resume my normal work with additional 2017 goals set to outreach to new partners and initiate new relationships in the new year. Never did I think that I would be turning it all over to my temporary replacement.

Around the eight-week mark is when the nausea-inducing anxiety associated with the reality of leaving your baby for 60 hours a week set in. The baby who hasn't left your side since he was born. The same thing happened when Charlie was born. I probably ruined a solid chunk of Chuck's wardrobe with my mascara-smeared sob sessions. You can prepare for the physical reality of a new baby's presence in your life, but there is nothing that can prepare you for the emotional toll leaving your baby takes on a new mom. Even though I was anticipating it being a seasoned mom, it still rocked me. Chuck and I began to talk about the idea of me staying home, only this time was different. Chuck's salary was more than it was when we had Charlie, and with double the expenses, it actually made some financial sense to explore quitting my job as a distinct possibility.

We hemmed and hawed and I pored over budgeting spreadsheets trying to figure out if we could make it work. I concluded that although we'd be dirt poor and we'd have to eliminate several of our expenses, it was doable. We also decided that the peace of mind we both would have knowing that our babies were taken care of, the house would be taken care of, and we wouldn't have to constantly be stressed out by childcare arrangements would be worth the financial hit we were taking.

The fact that we reached this conclusion didn't leave me with much peace, however. It wasn't that I felt resentful or unhappy about staying home with the boys, but it just felt like I was making what should have been a happy, positive life change at the expense of a career that fills me with complete joy and contentment. I have been at my company for three years, and in that time, I contributed a great deal to making my programs successful. In the three years I worked there, the programs I oversaw grew exponentially. I don't say this to sound cocky or braggy. But it's the honest truth- I loved my job, I was good at my job, and I was finally starting to make a decent income, which is no small feat in the nonprofit sector.

So although I knew I wouldn't regret my decision in the long-term, it also left me with a deep sadness for all I was leaving behind. As I made the hour-long drive to speak with my supervisor and submit my letter of resignation, I was a mess. I called Chuck who did his best, but did little to console me. Then I called my Mom, because in moments of making terrifying life decisions, the only person who can help is your Mom. She told me that she didn't regret for a second staying home with my sister and I for the first five years of our life, but she implored me to make sure that I kept my mind sharp and active so I wouldn't be a worthless pile of mush when the time came to re-enter the workforce (my words, not hers).

I thought I had cried all that I could cry when I sat down with my supervisor, but I was wrong. Tears filled my eyes as I broke the news. She was shell-shocked and saddened. Not only is she one of the kindest and most generous people I've ever known, but she truly helped me grow into a better and more confident professional. I think she, along with the rest of my amazing work family, were the thing I was grieving the most.

Which brings us to today. For the last three weeks, I've been going in from 8-5 to help tie up loose ends and help my replacement to get acclimated, but if I'm being honest with myself, I'm just not needed anymore. And it breaks my heart a little. When you invest so much of yourself and your identity into your career, it leaves you feeling a little mind-fucked (for lack of a better word), when that's no longer your identity.

I didn't mean to ramble on for so long on this topic, but it's been hard to articulate my emotions regarding this huge change in my life. I fear I come off as being ungrateful for the opportunity most mothers would kill for, and that's not it at all. There are so many reasons why I know me being home is the best choice for my family. I just wish it wasn't such a bittersweet change.

So tomorrow, I will wake, not to the sounds of an alarm, but to the natural wake up call of a hungry baby. I will change diapers, and make oatmeal, and play Daniel Tiger, and try to come to terms with my new job description. Stay tuned as I don my Stay-at-Home Mom uniform and make the necessary alterations to make it fit.



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