Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back to Work Blues

Okay, I know I said this would be a Wordless Wednesday, but I lied. I need to get some things off my chest. I need girl talk. It'd be much more fun if we could all go out for pedicures and watch Sex and the City reruns while we vent but I'll have to settle for the online version.

You can probably tell from the title of this post that I will need some cheese with my whine. So, let's sit back with our Brie and crackers while we you sip your finest Pinot Grigio. Here goes.

I realize how fortunate I am to have negotiated the flexible, gradual-return-to-the-land-of-the-living schedule that I have. Working 3 days from home and 2 days in the office. My mom and DH will cover the 2 days I will be away so we can avoid daycare. Nate will be left in the best possible hands with people I trust dearly. And I won't have to sacrifice my career or put our family in financial ruin.

Sounds like gravy, right? So, what's my major malfunction?

Mentally, I am just not ready to go back to work. I love my job. I love my boss. I love my co-workers. I love the people I work with. It's the perfect job. I'm. just. not. ready.

I've technically been working the past 7.5 weeks but in a totally different capacity. I'm not utilizing my college degree or making those gargantuan student loans worthwhile. Instead, I'm relying on instinct and feedback. I'm not developing media plans for total strangers clients. I've been a caretaker to my darling son. And I can't think of any more important job. Everything else seems so trite or menial compared to this new position I've acquired.

I've enjoyed being a SAHM. I don't have dinner on the table every night when DH comes home and our 3BR/2BA apartment is in complete disarray. Dishes in the sink. Toys strewn across the floor. Laundry pouring out of the hamper. I'm certainly no 1950's housewife. But I could care less. I adore spending all my time with Nate. Catering to his every need - even if I'm flustered because I don't know what that need may be. Being there for his first milestones - holding his head up, batting and kicking toys, smiling, cooing. We've just begun recognizing a routine amidst the chaos and now I'm about to switch it up again.

It's a cocktail: half guilt and half sadness, sprinkled with a little fear. I wish I could quit and stay at home full-time. We may even be able to swing it on DH's salary alone. But we couldn't afford the same lifestyle. We'd have to penny pinch and live paycheck to paycheck. And I don't want that for our family. I don't want to put the sole financial burden on my husband if I can contribute. Giving up my job would put us further away from buying a home, especially in this shitty economy. I want to give my son the world and I simply can't do that if I'm unemployed.

I worked so hard to put myself through college (while working full-time) and graduated summa cum laude prior to getting a great job as a senior media buyer in advertising, a notoriously tough field to break into. If I give it up now, when I'm young and near my peak, it will only be that much harder should I try to get back in later in life. I've been in the water for a while now and it is warm and comfortable. If I get out, the water will chill and it will be really difficult to jump back in. A resume gap will stick out like a sore thumb to employers. And unfortunately, despite the feminist movement, the glass ceiling still exists. Few advertising execs understand the need to put a career on hold. Especially if I plan on having more children (which we hope to). As a woman who wants both a family and a career, I have to think about these things. I can't base my decision on emotions alone - as much as I'd like to.

I look at Nate and I cry because I realize I can't always be there for him - this is the first step in letting go. Because I'm going to miss our time alone together and, most likely, it will never be this way again. Because I'm worried our bond will not be as strong once I add work into the mix. Yes, I'll be home 3 days a week. But I won't be able to devote all of my time to Nate. I will have to prioritize my time and put in my 40 hours. There will be times Nate will come second. And it is hard to fathom that. I feel guilty that I won't be able to tend to his every need. And I'm scared that I won't be able to excel at both. I'm scared I may have lost the passion that made me so desirable to my employer because I have something else to be passionate about. I'm scared I may not be able to be the overachiever I've always been when it comes to this.

I hate that it all comes down to money in the end. I wish I could get paid in smiles and hugs.

Tomorrow is my first day back at the office - just for a few hours so my boss can brief me on what's been going on in my absence. Monday is my first full day back. Truth be told, I'm dreading it.

I'm sure it will be fine and it's just the anticipation that makes it so disheartening. After all, moms do it everyday around the world. Some go back as early as 6 weeks and I've been lucky enough to have 2 more weeks off. I have to suck it up. Be strong.

And go buy that lottery ticket - just in case I hit the jackpot. A girl can dream.


alison said...

I'm dreading it already, and I have 5+ months before maternity leave even starts... :(

Jamie said...

I totally understand. I too have what many would consider an ideal arrangement but that doesn't make it any less difficult. Going back to work is just hard. No matter what you do or how you arrange it.

I wish I had words of wisdom... But I can say I feel the same way.

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

I'm with you sweetie. I have a few weeks and I'm already thinking about how we can afford a few more weeks with me not working.

There was a part of me that hoped I wouldn't like staying home with Lemy so it would be easier to go back. But that just isn't the case. It sucks that we live in a time where being a working mom is required not necessarily chosen. :( Lots of HUGS to you.

Rachel said...

I am sorry you are feeling this way. The only advice I have to give is that you have to make the decision that is best for your family.

As a non-working mom for the past 9 months I can say that there have been days when I wished I went back to work. No matter what your situation is, I think we just wish we could have everything when that isn't possible.

I am guessing you will cherish your time with Nate even more once you go back to work.

Geohde said...

I'm starting again part-time soon.

ANd I'll have to work my butt off to get back into full time. AT the moment, with twins, I've just commintted one of the more effective forms of career suicide in my line of work....



eggorchicken said...

Oh how I remember that feeling of dread! In the weeks leading up to my return to work after the birth of my daughter I was almost hysterical at the thought of handing her over to a daycare, for the whole day!! The guilt, sadness, resentment etc consumed me... and when I eventually started - although difficult, it was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated.

Yes it was hard. Yes it was sad. Yes I cried all the way into work. But once at work I was in work-mode, and although I thought about her a lot I had stuff to do and the time flew until I was able to rush home and cuddle her.

It'll all work out. HUGS.


Fertilized said...

I am so sorry. You are in my thoughts. You are not alone in these thoughts at all