As the big day approaches [3 weeks, 5 days, but who’s counting?] I find myself almost living a double life. Not the stashing a family somewhere kind of double life. I can barely manage one family without courting insanity on a daily basis. I mean my work life and my home life. I gave up on work-life balance some time ago, which ultimately led to the decision to leave corporate life behind to stay home. But as I prepare to make the switch, I find I’m balancing more than ever, and having to work harder to maintain my secret super-hero identity [partly the reason I don’t openly promote this blog yet].
The ruse is getting cringe-worthy. Like when my boss’s boss told me at a conference this week that he trusts me implicitly [to do a good job? to not abandon the team? to finish the projects I’ve spent the last 8 months pushing?] The fact is, I care about my job. That was never really at issue. I have ethical dilemmas about it from time to time [I work in advertising and as a parent I struggle with our culture’s acceptance of pervasive marketing, and feel strongly that if I return to the workforce some day, I want to leverage my experience in the industry to help combat the influence of advertising on youth]. But I love the people I work with, and care about the work I’m doing. I’m pretty invested in it, believe it or not. I want to see my colleagues succeed, even when I’m no longer a part of the team. And it’s going to be odd to hand over projects I built from scratch, some of which will be revolutionary for the company, if I do say so myself. But I also couldn’t be more invested in my decision to leave it all behind. So much so that I’m already starting to live in my future as a stay-at-home mother and homemaker, and find it pervading my work life more and more.
I daydream about the time I’ll get to spend with my kids when I’m not exhausted from work or thinking about work. I can’t wait to be more involved in teaching them, and witness fully as they grow rather than reading about it in a daycare report. I’m making a bunch of crazy organizational documents, including a grocery spreadsheet to track our spending and save money, and a schedule to plan activities for the kids. And this blog is my ritual, I sneak in posts during lunch and on weekends, and it helps me organize the myriad of emotions I’m feeling about taking this step.
When it gets tricky is when I have to talk about the future in the context of work and my career, especially at work. I don’t know that my career in advertising is over necessarily, but I don’t foresee a time when I won’t want to be at every game, recital, spelling bee, or hold an office in the PTA, and doing that while working is hard – even when some moms I know make it look easy. I’m having difficulty with discussions at work about October or even September, let alone next year, because I can’t let on that, other than setting my team up to succeed without me, that future is nearly irrelevant to me. And tempting opportunities I’d normally take advantage of, like a seat on the board of an industry bureau, I have to remind myself aren’t for me right now, if ever.
But it’s difficult letting go. The idea of trying to consult for my company seems more and more tempting, even though realistically I know it could become full-time work for part-time pay. The truth is, in order to serve my [and more importantly my family’s] best interests, I have to let go of everything else, and my work and career will be the first to go, at least for now and possibly forever.
I’m okay with that.