My last day in the corporate world was Friday, January 2, 2009, before my girls were born on Monday, January 5. The game plan has always been that I would stay at home with the girls until they start kindergarten, in Fall 2014, at which time I hope to rejoin the workforce in a similar capacity to what I have always done.
This past fall, though, a couple of months before the girls’ fifth birthday, I was presented an opportunity to manage a long-term project for my former employer. Estimated at 20 hours of work each week, the hours would be flexible. I would work mostly from home, coming into the office for select meetings, as necessary. I jumped at the chance to begin to ease back into the corporate world.
I’ve been clocking hours for the past couple of weeks. So far it’s been both fantastic and challenging…with a few late nights and a dose of humor thrown in for good measure.
It’s been nothing short of invigorating to put on my business hat again. I would never trade a day I’ve enjoyed with my girls over the past five years, nor do I want to wish away one second of the next few months before they start school in the fall. I’ve relished my role as a stay-at-home-mom, but it’s been really energizing to step into a completely different role for a few hours.
The first time I opened my mouth and industry jargon flowed forth, I had to smile to myself. I haven’t talked about product details and consumer shopping habits in ages…but those rivers run deep, I was reminded.
While I’m working on this project with a different department from where I used to work, it’s also been wonderful to run into a few of my former colleagues. I’ve gotten some really delighted smiles and welcome back hugs, which has been so nice.
The most challenging aspect of the past couple of weeks has been parts of the “work mostly from home” portion of the job description. It’s true that I can do much of my work at any time, and I’ve been trying my best to consolidate that to before the girls’ wake-up time and after they’re in bed. However, I’ve had a couple of conference calls to attend during the day, and that hasn’t always gone so smoothly.
During my first call, the girls were relatively well-behaved. I did have to locate the mute button on my phone (which I’d never used before), but all in all, it went OK.
Since then, though, the girls have gotten a little more “brave”. I cautioned them that only in the event of an emergency were they to interrupt me. I forgot that “emergency” should have been more expressly defined to my five-year olds. During my last call, I was interrupted for lip cream (chap stick) and for white drawer paper. Afterwards, they explained to me,”…but I NEEDED chap stick! My lips were chapped!” Yup, that’s an emergency to a five-year old.
My girls don’t require me to interact with them 100% of the day, but I am usually pretty deliberate about saying, “Mommy will read one more book, and then I need to go make supper,” or, “When we finish this game, you can go upstairs and play while I make a phone call.” The unscheduled interruptions are a relatively new thing for them.
We still have work to do in this area.
I had to laugh at myself when I started combing my closet for appropriate business attire. I found myself wondering if the tags from the cleaners had an expiration date. Of the 20 or so pairs of slacks I have, most haven’t been touched in SIX YEARS (since I was wearing maternity clothes the winter before the girls were born). While most of my pants are relatively classic (or that’s what I’m telling myself), I also had to laugh at the fit of a couple of pairs. Um, I don’t think this will accomplish the has-it-all-together working mama look.
And then I laughed (to keep from crying) the first day I tried to wear heels for an extended period of time. Since the girls were born, I’ve always said that I wore heels any chance I got…but in looking back, I realize those were very limited occasions. Sure, I wore heels now and again out to eat, to a wedding, to a graduation…but I hadn’t had them on for a full six hours in many years. I started off last Thursday, feeling professional and standing tall. I did fine until I was rushing to pick the girls up from school…I stepped out of the car and tears came to my eyes. I don’t know what happened, exactly, but my feet had had enough. I limped into the preschool, but thank goodness I had some ballet flats in the car so I could make the drive home.
Lastly, I’ve laughed at the former colleagues who didn’t recognize me at all. Granted, my hair hasn’t been this long since I graduated high school, and the last year before the girls were born, I wore glasses instead of contacts. Oh, and I’ve lost about 60 pounds since I last graced the halls (during my about-to-pop last days of pregnancy). Well…maybe I’ll grant them a pass, now that I think about that one.
Have you had any deja vu moments harkening back to your pre-baby days? Have you re-entered the work force after some time away? How did it go? And [PLEASE!] tell me you have some magic to keep my kiddos at bay while I’m on the phone???
MandyE is mom to five-year old fraternal twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.