I had thought about this post long before it happened. Have you ever done that? Do you tweet/Facebook posts in your head coming up with one-liners about how you would feel on your last day of work? What would you say? Would it be a quick “Peace out peeps!” or something more heartfelt? Maybe it would be nothing at all, which is what my day was like – (not necessarily by plan, but more by sheer emotional exhaustion after a week of sleepless nights and many tears).
Here’s what I imagined in the weeks before: I saw a courageous blog post sharing what was next. It would have a sheroic feel with “atta-girl!” comments and congratulations beneath it. I imagined feeling as free as I was after giving my resignation the month before, happy and weightless to choose my own journey riding off into the California sunset. With all of my envisioning, maybe I never believed the day would arrive.
A week ago was my last day of work. I was
sad, or maybe emotionally crippled would be more accurate.
I expected to shimmy out of my role which I played for the last decade of my life as a speech language pathologist. Instead I shed a few boxes of toys and materials for my co-workers or as part of our Early Intervention library, but my heart was heavy, and I was terrified by this new unknown.
I spent my last morning handling lingering situations. There was paperwork to be handed in (as always), and a few phone calls to be returned about meetings which never happened. There were hugs to be given, and goodbyes to be said. And that was it. I left feeling complete with the career I’ve had, but incomplete with the finality of it all.
I resigned with mixed emotions. Everything was telling me it was time for a change. I am ready for something new, for something of my own – but am I ready to take it on as well as being a full-time stay-at home mom? I’ve been seeking room to breathe – is this really the way?
I was leaving wonderful childcare. I was leaving a career many stay-at-home mom friends & clients told me I was so lucky to have. I had flexibility! I worked with children! I played all day! However, what these moms didn’t know was while I was sitting on the floors of their homes with their children – I often thought about what I was compromising with my own, who didn’t have me sitting on our floors and playing — ever!
My daughter, now 6 months old is becoming a little person. She has her own opinions, but I’ve been too busy to notice them until I watched her for an uninterrupted hour at playgroup the other day. I studied her on her tummy for an extraordinary length of time (see my PT friends!) She is a social butterfly looking around the circle of adult faces until she gets a reaction from each person. If she doesn’t get a smile initially, she will growl, or raspberry at you until you acknowledge her – and then move on. There has been a special personality evolving right under my nose, but I’ve been too busy to notice.
I don’t know if everyone understood why I was leaving. It was something I had difficulty articulating into rational/linear reasons. I have a huge supportive family. I have a mom who is currently receiving chemo. I’m connected to a wonderful community with life-long friends. But inside I was internally exhausted and unable to appreciate any of it. I woke at 5 am, rushed to get the kids to childcare and to be at my first appointment on time so the rest of the day didn’t fall apart. Working in itself was not difficult, but I was losing myself in the busy-ness of my days. I’m a really good therapist, and even on days when I felt depleted – I still gave my best to everyone else. To everyone else but me.
And to everyone else but my husband. I hated our routine of seeing each other for a few minutes when he got home at 8 pm to barely kiss good night before I fell asleep with one of the kids, bone tired.
To everyone else except my kids. I felt the guilt of my busy-ness one morning when my son asked if he could have a “mommy day.” I looked at my schedule. It was too busy. There was a cross country move to prepare for. I wanted to catch up on writing content for my online program. My mom was starting chemo the next day and I wanted to spend time with her while I could.
I took the mommy day. We went to the park at 8:30 am. I let him play for hours with his toys and didn’t interrupt him to be on my agenda for once.
And here I am a week after leaving a job. A week after being so paralyzed with the exhaustion and tears. “Are we making a mistake?” I sobbed to my husband curled in the fetal position telling him he would never understand what it was like to leave a part of yourself, even if it was a part that was no longer working. He was looking to what was next while I was mourning all of the things I never fully appreciated while they were there – my job included.
In my resignation letter, I thanked my boss for the opportunities. I thanked her for encouraging me to go for it and think outside of the box when I wanted to start creating workshops for families, staff, and ultimately the state pushing me outside of my comfort zone. I felt grateful to have worked with talented colleagues over the last 11 years who became my closest friends. I had many “work wives” and without them I wouldn’t be the therapist, mom, or woman I am today.
So there is my leaving a job post. There were no flying flags or monumental scenes which could have been mistaken for a scene from Office Space. There were lots of hugs, and tears (on my end). And some fear as I face the uncertainty of a blank page ahead, recognizing it’s not a blank page but what’s written next which is where the journey continues.