Monday, January 28, 2013

Of Jobs and Motherhood, Part 1: Boxing it All

Last Wednesday we went into Boston so I could clear out my office. We brought Henrietta, and I met with my (former) boss and she got us a box, and I put everything in it: My notes to myself, my pictures of Sam, my lemon pepper for my lunches, my purple velvet ballet flats I used to change into after wearing my snow boots into work, my framed prints. I threw out stale walnuts and old soup and dozens of sandwich baggies and grocery sacks I'd kept just in case I needed to bring something home on the train.

My coworkers gathered around the door to my office, there to see the baby and say hello. They were so kind and asked nice questions about Henrietta and said how pretty and alert she was and Sam told them about our new house. I cleared out all of my files while Henrietta fussed, and Sam held her, telling her we were almost done, it was almost time to go home.

It was cold that day, very cold. My car temperature said it was 12 degrees outside when we left home, and it felt colder in the shadow of the buildings. When we left my office, I put the baby in the back of the car, and Sam arranged my box of belongings in the seat beside her. Two years of my working life fit in a box on the seat next to my baby. We cranked up the heat and headed home, and I tried not to cry. 

The process of resigning my position has been longer than I expected, with various landmarks, all of which made me feel weepy. There was the day I told my boss I probably wasn't coming back, that the commute from Lowell and the cost of daycare would make it impossible. There was the day I told HR, which was while we were on vacation in Arizona, and the rest of the day I held back tears and sighed heavily, and wrote my sisters to ask them to cheer me up, to tell me how great it would be to be at home. And there was today, when I cleaned out my office and handed back in my key fob, and I didn't expect to feel sad, since I'd already worked through my feelings about it, but I felt sad.

Here's what I'm trying to say, and what I hope to work through here: making this decision to not return to work has been one of the most complicated and emotional decisions of my life, more so than I expected it to be. I was a working woman with an ambitious trajectory for a lot of years. And though I was ready for Henrietta, and she's a sweet sweet part of my life, I'm still feeling rather complicated about the whole thing, and having some big (complicated) realizations about what it means to be a woman, generally. So I'd like to publish a few posts in this vein (though with breaks in between for other thoughts). I plan to highlight a few of my emotions, in the hopes of making sense of them. 

Join me as I do so? Tell me what you think? I'd love to hear from you. 

4 comments:

jes said...

becoming a stay at home mom is a very complicated thing. at least for me. and even with my baby being four years old, i still find myself taking things in and out of the box, as it were. i admit that i am not one of those people for whom mothering young children is fulfilling. honestly, most of the time it gives me panic attacks. this doesn't mean i don't desperately love and adore them. i do. i do. but being a 24 hour mom doesn't come naturally to me. and i think i'm finally coming to grips with the idea that maybe that's okay.

belann said...

It is amazing how much of our identity hinges on what we do. It is very hard to give that part of your life up for awhile, but totally worth it.

Amara said...

Very cold in the shadow of those buildings! But...like Mom said, although you hinge your identity on what you do, that is going to change many many times in your life. This is just a season. It's a beautiful season --keep taking lots of pictures! --but it won't be the same for long. Watch and see.

Giuli said...

I struggled for years feeling guilty for working while I had a baby, then hating my job while I paid other people to watch my baby. I absolutely love love love teaching, and I will do it forever, but it finally came to the point when the fact that making a difference in hundreds of kids lives wasn't as important to me as making a difference in my own children's lives. Hidden under my new guise as a stay at home mom/part time teacher is my alter identity as a full time worker. I'll pick it up again, in time, but for now I just enjoy the opportunity to soak Kizzie up. I still have a very hard time relating with the typical stay at home Mormon mom types. I find that "play dates" are not my thing and I'd rather watch a Jane Austin movie with my daughter than socialize with women who degrade getting an education and working. It's not always the case, but sometimes it is and it bugs me. I guess that I'm a feminist and mommy wrapped into one. Good thing Jack let's me do my thing and doesn't expect me to have a house like Martha Stewart, just because I'm home more than him. Yuck!