Here, Take My Superpower. I Don’t Need It Anymore.
There is no other way to describe my current phase of life other than to say it is a journey and a transformation. It’s been less than two months since I left work and yet the distance I have travelled as a person belies that short time span.
In some ways, I feel like a stranger to myself. I don’t miss work at all. I mean, not even a little bit. And it’s not because there weren’t great elements to it- in fact, the role that I had was absolutely the best role I can imagine- exactly what I love to do. Now, the bloom was off the rose in terms of corporate culture and some crazy dysfunction, but I enjoyed my colleagues and friends. Further, I have always, not only loved work- but needed it. It has been a huge part of my identity for YEARS- probably from the time I was 15, I have defined myself as a working woman, a contributor, an earner. This identity was incredibly important to me and made me feel valued and valuable.
To some degree, these labels meant as much to me as becoming and being a parent. When our girls were born, I didn’t consider- no, couldn’t consider not working. I wasn’t going to be come some “breeder” pumping out kids and coasting on the back of my husband. I was going to be a mom, a partner, AND a valuable employee- and I was going to make it look easy. And I think, to a great degree, I “succeeded”. It was my superpower- doing it all.
This is all to say how amazing it is, especially to me, how I’ve shed the desire to maintain this superpower. Here, have my golden lasso and my indestructible bracelets. Take my corporate ambition, my need to be recognized for my contribution, my rapid advancement. I’m just not that into them right now. I have discovered something wonderful- Slowing Down. My kids. Our girls are five years old and on the precipice of entering the next, transformative phase of their lives- the school years, beginning with kindergarten this fall. And I want to enjoy them before that starts. I feel like I am love struck anew for these little humans. I look at our girls and see them growing, truly bursting with energy and promise- throwing off these crazy sparks of humor, intelligence, fearlessness, discovery, joy, and happiness, that are precious in their unfiltered glory. I simply can’t say how much I am enjoying spending more time with them.
Arm in arm with this discovery, I am growing and improving as a parent. This time, the last seven weeks spent on more leisurely mornings and afternoon pickups from school, spent at a less hectic pace, have been like an intense workshop- showing me how much opportunity there is for me to grow as a parent. I am not down on myself- I have been a very good parent and this journey I am on has not made me regret working or being a super hero for the last five years. Being a super hero is pretty sweet- just ask Wonder Woman or Super Man. The uniform, the accolades, the big saves and the victories. But, the plain truth is that it’s exhausting and time is finite.
Time. Is. Finite. The grains of sand are inexorably slipping down that slender throat and creating a pile of spent seconds, minutes, and days that can’t be retrieved or reused. That’s been my greatest realization. I don’t know if it’s the age of our kids, the health crisis that my family weathered in the last few years, approaching 40 (yes, I am still south side of 40!), the death of my mother, books I have been reading, or just having time when my brain is not completely filled with emails, meetings, work politics, and the hundreds of things I would juggle and balance each day. I have heard people say, “Buy real estate- it’s the only thing we can’t make more of.” Well, I say, “Spend your time wisely- what’s gone by can’t be re-spent.”
Now, with a little bit of mental space and time, my fears and preconceived notions about “not working” have evaporated. Turns out I AM working- on being an awesome parent (not there yet, but I believe!), an awesome spouse, a blogger, a writer, a runner, a better human being who is more present in my own life. What a concept- being present enough to connect more deeply with the world around me. That’s not to say I wasn’t trying before- but remember what HD TV felt like the first time you saw it? That’s what life feels like- I didn’t know what I was missing before. And yes, I owe an apology to all the stay-at-home-moms that I have mentally sniffed at for not wanting “it all”. Guess the laugh was on me. Though don’t mistake my thoughts to mean that I think “working and mom-ing” aren’t compatible and good together- they are! It’s much more about the personal journey and listening to what your heart is telling you and not being fearful of where it leads.
Sure- this all seems great and lucky me that I can just skip off into the sunset on our cushion of cash and my new enlightenment. Not so fast, Skippy. We are running at a “deficit” as a household and this golden interlude is just that. I will go back to “work-work” in the fall (barring finishing my book and its publication) but it will be with a different mindset and a different set of priorities. I will remain ambitious and driven- that’s who I am, but what will count as “success” has been revised, broadened- some might say “lowered” but I think it’s more accurate to say “shifted.” I will also go back to work with a heart full of gratitude for this irreplaceable time and for the things that work will give me- challenge, opportunity, and a little change in my pocket.
Once you know how to use a lasso and fly an invisible plane, you don’t forget.