A lot of things have changed since the birth of Little O. One of the biggest of those changes…I did not return to my job.
I made the decision to leave long before I was pregnant, quietly building a network around me so I could walk away. I interviewed at other companies, turned down a job offer for a not-quite-right fit, turned down another due to poor timing, all the while, keeping my head down, trying, and often failing, to tune out the corporate noise, while working on novels and other freelance opportunities to feed my soul.
Then I got pregnant and this sweet boy came and I knew for certain what I had known long ago: my time at the company was done. The decision didn’t scare me. It felt like walking out into the sun. Still, I imagined I would walk out shining, with some big news of a book deal, or a daring digital project in the world of children’s media. While this new life gig is more challenging and rewarding than any other I’ve experienced, I still thought I would leave with a snazzier title than mother.
Instead, I told my boss (who I loved and who had nothing to do with the decision) in a teary-eyed confession. Then human resources quickly over the phone. After nearly eight years, there was no party. I was not allowed back in the building during office hours to say goodbye to my friends. Since it was in the middle of my maternity leave, I left quietly, with only one heartfelt and sincere goodbye email to the company, which had to be sent via an ‘approved’ sender (i.e. not me).
I don’t regret this decision even a little. There is nothing more important than the work I am doing right now. I would not miss a moment of Little O’s life to go back to a company I had completely lost faith in or a job where I felt undervalued and under appreciated. And while the title doesn’t sound snazzy, mother is the most incredible of all the jobs I’ve taken on. I’m even hesitant to call it a job because it just feels like a role I’ve slipped into, even with all its hardships, a role that feels like just the right fit.
But I don’t want to make it sound like this transition has been easy.
I know, in my heart, that I am in the right place and, yet, I feel a bit displaced. I don’t step into an office anymore. I don’t knock things off of a long task list. I collaborate with no one. I spend whole days without a word to anyone but a tiny human, who is kinder and more beautiful than anyone I’ve ever worked with, and who, in some strange twist of life, loves me unconditionally, but…
…it’s lonely and it’s strange and I try to understand who I’m supposed to be.
I strategically planned my finances to be able to take this time to be with the most important person in my life and live the moments with him. While I feel lucky I planned for it, I know that time and space may run out.
And there’s still a space in my heart that believes I’m a writer. So I write when everyone is asleep, moving a laptop from my bed to the kitchen table to the couch, to find the quiet and the space I need. But writing doesn’t, yet, bring our family enough money. Most of my stories don’t reach anyone else but me.
I walk every day, pushing a stroller along the river. I scheme. I live each moment with Little O, yes, and I try not to let my thoughts cascade too far ahead. But I worry. I wonder how to live all my dreams.