When you’re pregnant, everyone always asks you the same question: How are you feeling??
When you start a new job, everyone always asks you the same question: How’s the new job going??
The answer to the first question was always “UGH,” but the answer to the second one is, “Surprisingly well!”
I am popping in for just a second to answer all those burning questions I know you have since I’ve returned to the workforce. I went back to work once before, a few years ago when Graham was about 18 months old. Back then I loved my 30 to 45-minute commute, I loved the break of getting out of the house, and I loved getting to come home to my kid every day. It was a very different time. I’d felt almost like I was taken prisoner by my difficult baby, I was struggling with depression and I needed the freedom and independence.
This time I am amazed every day about how long it takes me to get to work. It doesn’t feel long, but every minute is precious now and wasting 60+ minutes each way feels like squandering a gift.
This is my first creative job and I was more than a little nervous to start. Sure, I was comfortable being creative on my couch when I was playing by my own rules, but what about when I had to work with other people and be an underling to someone else? I worried. It turns out that it’s not so bad. I like my team a lot. They’re small and enthusiastic and lively. The work is not all fun and Pinterest. (And honestly, while the Pinterest part is fun, it also makes me really really hungry all the time.) When we sat down my first day to hash out a communication strategy and I was finding myself having to describe the tone to take with a certain group in 3 words… I had to adapt. I have always done things kind of on the fly with my sites so a more structured approach is new. Setting out strategies and plans is new. Having to zero in so closely on individual words and sentences, having to make specific decisions about tone and character, this is all new. But it’s also coming easier than I expected.
Yesterday, for example, we sat down to craft a one-minute pitch. We’re in a startup program that offers a lot of different ways to learn and improve and this was a contest to pitch our company in a short period of time. We knew it would be good practice for a lot of presentations coming up. So we sat down and hashed it out sentence by sentence. Each day I go home to my kids and I don’t always get to do the afterhours fun and games, so I missed the competition. But I walked in this morning to find out that we won! And that additions I’d made and approaches I suggested were a big part of it.
So yeah, that’s great. I feel valued and I’m really comfortable.
The balance, though, that’s where things are getting tricky. Since I started work last week I haven’t been to the Y for Zumba class once. Every morning when I leave Graham asks where I’m going. When I tell him I’m going to work, he says, “Again?” like he thought this was a phase I would’ve grown out of by now. Tessa has started crying when I leave. (Something she’s never really done more than a handful of times before now.)
Maybe if I’d started when Graham was in school it would seem easier. But instead I’ve gone from spending time with my kids constantly to seeing them only a few hours a day. It’s a big change and a tough transition for all of us. And after we get home I still have to log time on the computer to make sure everything gets done. And there’s the rush of dinner and bedtime. (Any hope I had of starting to cook again is totally gone. Time is too precious.)
It’s strange how different it is this time. Last time I was so grateful to get away. I was at my lowest. Now it’s not that I don’t enjoy being at work. And it’s not that I miss my kids constantly. But our time together now seems so short.
It makes my time with my kids more precious. It also makes my time with them more hectic and crazy. And since they spend weekends with their dad I don’t get the downtime with them anymore.
I’ll adjust. They’ll adjust. School starts soon, Tessa starts daycare the same day. We’ll get a routine. It’ll be okay. Crazy, but okay.
Honestly, I’m just feeling really happy and fortunate that everything worked out the way it did. I’m so glad I am where I am and that my kids are where they are and that we get to see each other and still pay our bills.
So in a nutshell, the answer I’m giving you is the same one I’ve given everyone who asks how the job is going:
It’s good. Crazy, but good.