Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Thought on leaving my job, transition, and dreams

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. 


  1. I wonder if I will be in a similar place a couple months from now -- wondering about how to live my dreams and finding the quiet a strange and unfamiliar place.

    I did leave with a fanfare -- more than I wanted, actually. I was resistant to the idea of letting them throw a party for me. (In the end, I had to accept that I was going to get THREE whether I liked it or not!) But now that they are over with, I am glad to have had them, and I wonder what it would be like to be escorted out of the building and not allowed back in to say good-bye, even to have my email sent through someone else.

    I did get to leave with that "author" title too, but I don't actually have any deals beyond the one in hand. So, I worry that leaving my job was premature, and that parading that title makes me a bit of a phony.

    I too, am a mother. And to be honest, "summer vacation" will probably feel just like any summer vacation to me. It will be in the fall, when my girls return to school -- both of them in high school! -- and I realize I have no classroom to return to, no lists to make, no meetings to attend, no schedule to fill my day, and likely no new book deal (because I'd have to write a whole new book before that could happen) --- I expect I'll be looking around like you are and wondering how to live that dream. You do have your precious little co-worker to structure your days. My co-workers will be ... uh, fictional.

    Maybe by the fall you'll have figured out the secret to living the dream with confidence and verve -- of reveling in the quiet -- and can share some tips with me! :D

  2. Your leap forward is inspiring, though I can appreciate the conflicting emotions you must be feeling right now. Still, I know Little O is incredibly lucky to have you -- and that this new role is one in which you will flourish. All things will come together in time, and I know you'll accomplish all you hope to. <3

  3. Melissa, are we soul sisters? My post today is very similar!! So refreshing to hear someone else having a similar struggle, though I hope we both find satisfying resolutions soon.

  4. Oh Melissa, your post brought me back, ahem, to 16 years ago when I made the same decision as you. I remember how displaced I felt after leaving the working world (in my case, leaving a job I loved). And I specifically remember at about the 9 month mark, I finally started to gel with motherhood. (Strange, I didn't realize until writing this comment that perhaps I had my own gestation period for my new "birth" as a mom.) Anyway, you have a wonderful head start; I think keeping one foot in the writing/publishing world is wise.

    I'm now on the other end of things... I just went back to work after being a SAHM for 16 years! So, go figure, I'm feeling a bit displaced as a working woman again! Cue the Lion King and the Circle of Life...

  5. You've made a brave decision Melissa and I applaud you for it. It sounds like the role you have taken on, is truly what you're meant to be doing at the moment. It is a bit sad that your co-workers didn't give you a proper send off though :-( Enjoy the time you have with your son and I hope your worries are eased soon.

  6. I love this and I so understand it...

  7. ok, so i'm just getting caught up- big transition for sure... and now it's a little further along, so i hope you're finding your footing and no longer feeling displaced. high five, girl! i'm so happy to hear of the great adventurous turn your life has taken!!