My personal philosophies have always been pretty far from today's feminist movement, but I surely took the "man's world" bull by the horns right out of college, and I was making things happen for myself. On my own accord, I loved my professional career; making decisions, being creative, managing a budget, traveling the country. It was empowering and exciting and fulfilling. And [in my own eyes at least] I was pretty good at it.
Being pregnant changed things a bit. Distractions, fatigue and pregnancy brain made it more difficult for me to execute my job responsibilities well AND take care of myself.
I cut back my hours when I was five months along. This helped with the personal stuff but made it even harder for me to feel like I was adequately contributing in a full-time paced work world.
After Penny came, maternity leave was, in a word -- sublime. I didn't turn my blackberry on once. Once I got past the whole recovering-from-a-C-Section thing, I spent my days hangin out with Penny, grocery shopping (what a concept), even started a scrapbook -- yeah, ask me how that's going now...
Motherhood Changes You.
Perhaps this is an age old question, but it's all new to me: Does being a dedicated professional have to mean slacking in your motherhood? And conversely, does being a solid, present, available, proactive mother have to mean slacking in your career?
I immediately struggled with this as soon as I went back to work this past October. Rejoining the work force, I was a different person. Living in parallel universes.
About once a week I meltdown. I'm tired and I miss my daughter when I'm at work. I'm tired and I'm overwhelmed with all the domestic things when I'm at home. I know women do it every day, but I don't know how they do both things well. Kudos to all of you out there.
I Needed Work to Change Too.
After admitting to myself that I couldn't go on like that anymore, in December I made a life-changing decision to move my own cheese (reference Who Moved My Cheese?, a wonderful book by Spencer Johnson, M.D. about attitude and accepting change as it comes).
I stepped out of my comfort zone, applied for a different job, and took it when it was offered to me.
The new job will be a complete change of pace. I'll be working for the same company, but in a brand new role. It will be slightly less hours, more flexibility and hopefully a little less stress. With that, I am letting go of some things that I really loved doing, and abandoning the career path that I was on, at least for now. But I am completely stoked about the new team that I am joining. I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity.
This was my last week transitioning out of my old job: working with people I knew well and liked and growing in a role for the last seven and a half years. You would think I would be sad, but the right-out-of-college woman has grown into someone new, and this is the right thing for her. Come Monday, I start fresh.
Please wish me luck and keep me in your thoughts next week!
It's funny that you posted this today. My girlfriend's husband is Swedish. In Sweden, children must enter "kindergarten" at 2 years old. Women who don't work are looked down upon. She had several conversations with family members who are also mothers about how "awful it is that there are so many stay at home moms in America." It's an interesting perspective. However, if I got 18 months standard maternity leave, plus employers had to comply with my request for 60% schedule upon my return...I may be more willing to work (outside the home) as well. I think you are making a good change and I'm praying you'll feel less stress and have more moments feeling successful than feeling overwhelmed! :)ReplyDelete
Wowee... 18 month maternity leave, yes please! Thanks for the prayers Steffi!Delete