The Adventures of Bug and Boo

Work / Life (Hanging in the) Balance

Rebecca O'LoughlinComment

It's Wednesday - hump day, for all you worker bees out there. The day I used to hold as the marker of the week. Once you got to hump day, you were halfway through the workweek and thatmuchcloser to the weekend. Funnily enough, today I'm missing work. I feel like that's a bad thing for me to say, after making the decision to become a stay at home mom six months ago, but it's the truth.

For those who don't know, I became a mom nearly a year and a half ago. I had the immense luck of living in the UK when my daughter was born, which meant that I was legally entitled to take a year off from work in maternity leave (come on, America, sort that out!! You're hanging back with third world countries on this one!!). I really only thought I'd take the first 6 months, because those were the full pay months and I had always been such a workaholic that I couldn't imagine *not* going back to work asap. 

my old office block in canary wharf

my old office block in canary wharf

I started working - in various capacities - when I was 16. I began full time working when I was 18 and away at university. After university I continued on with my Masters degree and worked in clinical research, until I needed an internship in my actual field of study – which is how I landed in Human Resources in 2004. I worked for a major bank for nearly ten years, had a successful career, and was incredibly fortunate to transfer with them from NYC to London all those years ago, and was able to change roles multiple times at the same company. (In fact, it was a bit of a running joke that I had changed roles and/or clients nearly 7 times in 9 years...!) I worked full time from the age of 18 until just eighteen months ago…so I suppose it’s not shocking that I miss certain things about it.

I don't miss my 90 minute commute - on the overground into London, then any combination of the underground / DLR / bus based on what what (or wasn't) running that day. I don't miss dealing with people who just didn't get that what we did wasn't brain surgery. I mean, at the end of the day, nobody was going to live or die based on what happened in our meetings - and some people just never twigged on that. I also don't miss being tethered to my Blackberry, checking emails every time the red light started blinking - or the 11pm 'fire drill' requests from global that I had to haul out my laptop for, log in, and throw together a presentation in the next hour. I don't miss any of that. 

And I don't actually miss my job. One of the reasons it was so easy to make the decision to leave work when I did is because I didn't like the job that I was returning into. I enjoyed the job I was doing before my maternity leave, but I wasn’t going back into the same one, and I didn’t particularly want to do that. Had I been returning into my prior role, it would have been a much harder decision. 

my old office - making sure everyone knew I am American! 

my old office - making sure everyone knew I am American! 

What I do miss, are the people. There were a lot of people on my team (and prior teams) that I really enjoyed working with and going for coffees and lunches with. People who I got to know well over the last six years - some I even took trips with! - and whose banter I really enjoyed. I miss that - the banter. The social and verbal interactions with people who all had something in common (even if it was only complaining about the bank for which we all worked). Chats in the line at Starbucks, bumping into someone in the lobby on the way to the next building for a meeting, seeing someone I used to work with in a town hall and catching up with them afterwards in the auditorium. I miss getting dressed up smartly and walking around with purpose. I do miss helping employees learn something new, and providing career advice. I miss connecting employees with other people who could help them in some way, helping build their networks.

I also miss, and probably the biggest thing of all - being really good at something. I am a good mom. I know that. I try really hard, I love Bug with every bit of my being. But I'm not an expert - nor will I ever be. After more than 10 years in HR though, I was a bit of an expert at certain things. (At least, far more than my clients were!). I felt really valued and utilised in that space. I frequently got calls from former clients - long after moving on to supporting a new group - to ask for my opinion or advice on something. I was asked to participate on projects because of my unique experience from working in A LOT of different departments at the firm. My work and my career validated me in that way. 

I don't have that as a mom. I can look to Bug learning new things - matching the colored gears of the caterpillar with the corresponding spots, saying new words, dancing around in a circle with me - I can look at all that and feel accomplished in helping her develop and grow, but nobody is going to seek me out for my expert opinion on this stuff. I don't know the first thing about quelling these tantrums. I haven't figured out how to manage our dinnertime battles. I don't know what I'm doing 90% of the time - and that feeling is so new and uncomfortable and raw. I don't particularly know if I'll ever get comfortable with it - or if it goes away after your child reaches a certain age, or you have a second child, or ever.

bug_and_me_van_hages

I know, of course, that if I went back to work now and wasn't a SAHM with Bug, that I would miss a million things about our days together. I'm not unhappy with my decision in the least. But sometimes, I wish that I could have that feeling of someone seriously needing my advice and expertise on something. That feeling of knowing 100% that I'm doing something correctly. And if I could get it without having to commute, or answer hundreds of emails, or attend dozens of meetings (seemingly about other meetings) - and with ample time in my day to still snuggle with my Bug first thing in the morning, color every piece of paper in the house together, giggle with her at our 'peekaboo' games behind the sofa, and enjoy each of those precious moments in the day when she just stops playing and wanders over to hug me - well that, my friends, would be the Holy Grail. 

Today is Wednesday Wishes, with Anne from Love the Here and Now. Join in by clicking the button below! 

Love the Here and Now