Back to Work

Alternately titled: Extended leave from the hardest job ever of being at home with the kids

It’s been almost exactly four years since I waddled off the job seven months pregnant with twins. A year later, I would be fired by voice mail when returning from mat leave, all of my stuff would get lost, and I would vow to never go back to consulting again. After a stunning existential crisis I have reversed this decision and decided this is the best possible move. I have a life path! Probably full of landmines! So freaking freaked out about it, you guys. Here’s why I am doing it:

1. I am only reasonably sure I brushed my teeth today.

I had a sock on inside out today. Sometime in the intervening hour the sock was turned right side out. I can only reasonably conclude that I did that myself, but I have absolutely no memory of said event. Therefore, I think it’s safe to infer that the habit I have every morning of my life happened, but I have also forgotten to use deodorant on multiple occasions in the last year, so who can be sure? Anyway, what I am saying is, I think that going back to work will provide a little structure and force me to pay attention to myself a little more.

2. Cash money

I thought being a kept woman would be delightful. Turns out I am not very delighted. Despite the fact that Mr. Giraffe has learned does not seem to mind when I spend his money, it doesn’t feel good to not earn a salary. I know that stay at home parents provide a gazillion dollars worth of service every year and all that shit, but guess what? No one shows up with a goddamn cheque. Not even a funny novelty one as a thank you. I think that would have been nice. So now I can earn my own money. And use that money to buy more bees, thus ensuring an exit strategy from the workforce when I one day quit to address a looming honey over-supply problem.

3. I have a theory that time outs are going to be effective in the workplace

If there’s one thing motherhood has afforded me, it’s a firm hand for discipline and zealous need for control. This will either make me the best worker ever or completely unbearable. Or maybe I will relish the fact that my coworkers can do up their own pants and just kick back. My emotions are a totally unknown quantity here. Adventure awaits at every turn.

4. No one will yell at me in the toilet

I hope. I had a job once where the boss got very mad when I used the washroom, but she also had a piece of popcorn stuck in her hair for 3 days once so I don’t think that was a typical experience.

5. A job will probably solve my ongoing cell phone crisis

I have been trying to pick out a smart phone for about 4 years. I am guessing that my new company will make my decision for me and I will be grateful. That is one aspect of communism I think I would really enjoy.

6. If I have to make one more meal in my life I am going to lose my shit

I recognize I still have to cook food for my family to reject and ferry everyone about, but it’s not all I have to do forever.

7. This year is ALL ABOUT ME

There, I said it. Say what you will, but I feel like I am going to be healthier, happier, and a better parent by going out into the world and bringing new stuff back to my family. And I will delight in each uninterrupted lunch hour like Nichola Tesla gazing upon his pigeon. If you’re not familiar with Tesla, trust me when I sat that is quite a lot of delight.

(Probably) Next up: The Rollergiraffe has a crisis over abandoning her kids at a daycare while she goes to a fulfilling job every day. I CAN’T WIN AGAINST MYSELF.

51 comments

  1. RG! Congrats to you on your new job and adventure. I keep thinking about this myself — going back to a more structured environment. I know you’re in for a great year and I can’t wait to hear more about this. I hope that your new boss doesn’t have some food item stuck in her hair for days and that if she does, you like him/her enough to let her know about it. (That was so freaking funny as is your entire post). Here’s to the all about you year — you’ve earned it and so deserve every good thing that comes your way!! Hurray!!!!!!

    1. Thank you Brigitte! I am really looking forward to some structure. I used to hate it, but at this point in my life it will be nice to dial back the chaos. How long have you been away from an office?
      I felt a little bad not mentioning the popcorn to my former boss, but she was a really terrible person. One day when I will write a tell all about her, when she is long gone and in no position to sue me.

  2. Jen,
    As always, I love your sense of humor. It feels like the right time to do something for yourself. And I look forward to hearing about your shiny new smart phone.
    Cathy

    1. Thank you Cathy.. it was kind of a combination of a lot of consideration and a healthy dose of “oh eff it, let’s do this” and magically everything fell into place. I am kind of worried about the transition to a smart phone though.. they might have to stage an intervention or me.

  3. Life is a series of chapters, isn’t it? Especially for women, I think. And I don’t mean that in a sexist way, it’s just that traditionally, women have adjusted their work schedules around family. More dads are doing that now, so the chapter thing applies to them, too. I wish you well in your next chapter. May it keep moving your story forward. :)

    1. I agree women tend to work in shorter chapters than men. Although it definitely set my career back, having the time with my family has meant everything to me, so it was an easy tradeoff. Thank you for the well wishes!

  4. Jen,
    You made me laugh the whole way through this. All of it is so true. If only what we learned staying at home with kids could so readily translate into the workplace.
    I applaud you for choosing to stay home for as long as you did, as well as taking this next step into the big world of bringing home a paycheque.
    People are crazy everywhere, but at least when you go home they are YOUR people.

    1. “but at least when you go home they are YOUR people.”
      HA! Exactly! It will be nice to break up the crazy a little bit though, to remind me of that. Preschoolers are their own special brand of crazy.

    1. It will be nice to feel like there’s a more distinct rhythm to the week than “days when you should avoid Costco” and “playgroup days.” And the idea that you can change changes featured heavily in my decision to go back.. it is a nice idea that nothing is forever.

      1. LOL the Costco thing cracked me up! I have done it on a weekend and then I ask myself what was I thinking?
        I hope the work goes well. It is nice to have adult conversations about something other than your kids.

    1. I am curious whether I’ll feel more wiped out or less. I think if I feel more wiped out I may be close to death and I ask for you to send help. Hopefully my new office is not as full of shenannigans as my former offices, but they do tend to provide lots of useful ranting material.

      1. Shenanigans is the key ingredient that gets me though the day at The Grind. Hopefully, you will not need me to come to your rescue, but if you do, do not hesitate to call my hotline: 1-800-LUNATIC.

          1. I’m sure seeing that on your wrist will earn you instant respect points from your colleagues. Make sure you play up the fact that I’m just a boulder’s throw away from NYC, to give it additional heft.

  5. I felt more guilt about NOT feeling guilty about going back to work. I lasted 3 weeks at home before I begged to go back to work and my husband stayed at home. He definitely LIKED being a kept man…but it is WONDERFUL to have two incomes –

    I hear ya with cooking (at times – I love to cook but I hate having to ‘make dinner’ every night)….I have a picky eater husband, a kid with food allergies and I eat not red meat or pork – so it’s our dinners are often a hodge podge of this and that. Thank GOD for all those years working in restaurants – I can short order cook like on one’s business. Now that everyone is older – it’s much easier and we all eat more foods in common – but those first years were HARSH.

    Have fun going to work and trying something different for a bit. Feel no guilt – everyone is growing and exploring the world.

    1. The mom guilt is killer.. you get it no matter what! I am a bit jealous of men in this regard because there’s no stigma attached to it all one way or another. However, I am thoroughly over the guilt and know that the drama is completely internal. I do have moments of “my babies!!!” but they’re also going to be in a daycare attached to my office building so I am not completely cutting the cord.
      The eating situation sounds like a whole heap of trouble at your house. We dealt with food sensitivities the first two years before they grew out of them, and I felt like my only function in life was making food. It’s gotten a bit better, but it will be even better when daycare is doing the bulk of the work..
      Mr. Giraffe is probably very jealous that Mr. Rutabaga got to stay at home. He’d do it in a heartbeat, but he doesn’t get to because he makes double what I do.. I guess that’s the downside of being good at what you do!

      1. I wish Mr. Rutabaga made twice what I did! He actually went back to school and we had the help of my MIL (she retired) -but Little Rutabaga was very ill so we had no choice in the matter – someone had to be home! And I love going to work; he hated his job so we decided to take advantage of it and incur some school debt.

        I think some of our guilt definitely comes if we don’t feel ‘guilty’ about the things that society tells us we should feel guilty about…and I grew up Catholic – so that has it’s own world of guilt…and I’m Italian… heaping more guilt on it!

        Have FUN at work ~

        1. Guilt! Oh guilt.. I shake my fist at you. And there’s no reason for it, is there? Everyone’s doing what they need to do to keep the family going, and sometimes that means mom goes to work. The people who abandon those responsibilities (not the ones who never took them on in the first place; there’s no shame in that either) are the ones who should feel guilty.

  6. Congrats, Jen! I want to go back for all the reasons you’re going back. At least some of them. Time flies when you’re at home and there’s no paycheck for a lot of self-sacrifice. I’ve enjoyed this year with my kids at school. The first year I’ve taken a breath…but no money means no fun ans worrying about money. Best of luck to you!! I’m rooting for you.

    1. Have you been off since your kiddos were born? I think being at home while they are in school would be pretty sweet; it must be nice to have a bit of a break and go grocery shopping and such in peace.
      I always thought that I would go back to work right afterward, but the minute they were born a switch flipped and I just wanted to be at home. I am glad that I did and now I am glad to go back. I think… nothing is forever, right?

      1. Also: I know that moms at home do more than grocery shopping by a long shot, but I revel in grocery shopping alone these days. Anything I get to do without negotiating with two small people is a treat.

      2. I know I thought the same exact thing. I thought I would go back in months. I understand the switch flipping, and I don’t regret it either. But off to new and exciting for you…have a great adventure! And quiet grocery shopping, that too. There’s nothing more peaceful than that.

  7. Right on, sister, for all of these but especially #7!! Although don’t be too sure about not being yelled at while you’re in the toilet…I’ve had colleagues follow me in there or look for me in there. It’s not pretty. And you get bonus points for mentioning Tesla, one of my favorite people ever.

    1. I think I’ll carry a bag of cottage cheese to dump into the toilet for those exact situations. That’ll learn’em. And I can’t think of a better use for cottage cheese.
      Tesla is probably the dead person I’d like to meet most. Can you channel him for me?

  8. I think that being an at home mom is probably the most demanding work there is, and I can’t even imagine what it’s like with twins. I know that full time parenting has its rewards, but I generally opted for the workplace – at least part-time – during the years my kids were little. It was my sanity. I hope for you that the transition will go smoothly!

    1. I completely understand choosing the workplace over being at home. I am all about people doing that makes them the healthiest person, and in turn, the best parent. Thanks for the well wishes!

  9. Congrats on getting back out there! The second point is something I’d struggle with if I was a mom. I can’t think of a job any less suited for me than staying at home with children. It’s the hardest job in the world, and so important, but my self-esteem is so tied up in my work that I would feel like something was missing from my life.

    I also love your point about being able to bring back something for you. I think that’s so important for children to see, their parents being fulfilled human beings. Sometimes that means staying at home and having the occasional getaway with friends, and sometimes that means going to work.

    Good luck on your new adventure!

    1. You are one of the most supportive non-kid people I know, and I love that about you. It takes a great deal of empathy to understand the difficult choices parents make, and also an incredible amount of self-awareness to understand whether you want that for yourself or not. Ironically, these are characteristics that the best parents have, but it’s not the only life path out there. I am glad you’ve found work that keeps you fulfilled, and I feel lucky to live in an era that these are choices women can make for themselves. I also feel grateful that I have options in front of me too, and hopefully work is the right one for now. Thanks for the well wishes!

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