Working Stiff

I recently got a new job. I haven’t started yet, but it will be a good change for me and an incredible opportunity for my family. I’m headed back into non-profit-ish work, where I started my career.

I am looking forward to it, but I have also have been up at night and unable to fall back asleep in the middle of the night. For purely selfish reasons.

See, with my new job I will now need to work five days a week. I know, cry me a river. Most people work at least five days a week or on schedules that don’t fall into a “standard” 9 to 5 work environment, or in the Midwest, the 8 to 5 workday.

At my current job I worked five days a week, but in planning for maternity leave I approached my supervisor and asked to go down to four days, with Fridays off. I was fortunate that there was another woman who had done the same, and luckily, when I came back to work after 11 weeks, I was only in the office Monday through Thursday.I’ve had this schedule for 19 months.

Those first few months back to work were hellish. I rarely spoke about it to my co-workers, because who wants to hear how tired someone is, but honestly, I had a nocturnal baby and was going on, like 4 hours of sleep a night. Total. I would spend Fridays napping whenever C did and happy if we got out for a walk.

Then we hit our stride. She got older, got on a schedule, and we started connecting with other parents with similar schedules. I started smuggling her into a toddler story time at the incredible new library on the other side of town or we headed to a great play area. We went out for coffee with friends, had lunch together, and in nicer weather, C tolerated me slogging her to garage sales or St. Vinnie’s. And yes, when she napped in the afternoon, I often found myself doing the same more often than not. What a difference it made for our family! We rolled into the weekend, and even if I didn’t run errands, I never, ever felt rushed during the weekend and honestly, have never, ever felt guilty about working.

But now I do. I do because now our special day, our Friday, is gone. Soon. I’ve been fortunate and had opportunities in the past two years to take different work, but it was never a great fit until this new gig came along. This is a great fit and it means that our special day is gone.

My husband reminds me that it’s not like it’s the last time she and I will ever have a special day together. She’s older and loves her daycare and we love it, too. She probably has more fun with her buddies at daycare than with me, but I always felt that I had *it*, that elusive balance between work and life. And now I can feel it slipping away and I haven’t even started the new job.

I know, cry me a river. This comes from a place of privilege. I also know that yes, she will be fine and our family will adjust and that I’ll take time off here and there so that we can have special days to roll into the weekend. This isn’t the end. It’s a new beginning. And C won’t notice at all. It’s really me.

So as my lip quivers as I type this and each time I think about it, I know that this is good. It will just take some time. Some adjusting. And maybe a few sneaky naps on the weekend.

– MD

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6 thoughts on “Working Stiff

  1. I understand! I’ve looked at a million other jobs but it’s hard for me to think about working more. And I still get tears when I think about my special Monday mornings gone.

  2. Your story is so much like my story that I wonder again Why?!? did I do this when I was sane and had that elusive balance? I know why, I wanted more of a challenge, I wanted more relevance in my career, I..I..I.. and yet I think I have been the one who has paid the greatest price. I sometimes think I’m like Candide leaving the land of milk and honey.

    Maybe there is some consolation in the fact that there is no right answer and these decisions are for now, not forever.

    good luck and know that stories of strong women who forge their own career and path resonate with us for good, very important reasons.

  3. I arrived at this post from a RT by @kellycuene, so this is my first visit to your blog.

    My wife and I had a hard time with this as well. It was hard, even though we loved the daycare where we sent our kids. It doesn’t mean you’ve “lost” your work-life balance, though.

    It means that your sense of balance has changed. I think abou this metaphorically a lot in that I actually have a neuro issue that causes, among other things, a really poor sense of balance.

    I’ve learned to be okay with falling (I’m good at it!) and better and better at picking myself up and moving on. To stay in balance, I have to stretch a lot, walk more and also-most importantly-know when to give myself a break.

    Try to do these things (metaphorically, if not physically, but I recommend BOTH), with an emphasis on the breaks when you need them. Don’t pine for them. Don’t over-plan them. Don’t “mourn” them if the day goes to hell in a handbasket.

    Just take them, enjoy them for what they are, and let it get easier with time. You’ll regain that sense of balance.

    Best of Luck!

    Sean

  4. Thanks for these comments. Such is the modern-day challenge! I am grateful for exceptional daycare, a caring community and thoughtful readers.

    @Sean – glad you stumbled this way and shared your story. I love description of the literal balance you have in your family and the reminder that nothing has been, or will be lost.

  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention Working Stiff « First Smiles And Tears -- Topsy.com

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