Returning to Work, Post-Maternity Leave
My Lowest Point
This time, one year ago, my life was tremendously different. I was returning back to work post-maternity leave, Elijah was attending his first weeks at school, and I was a nervous wreck. I had so much anxiety for so many reasons, besides the obvious "new mom" situation.
I DESPISED MY JOB. Resented it, hated it, all of the above. Although I had received promotions during my two years employed with the company, I was basically told by an administrator that I had "no room to grow". Umm, what? I truly felt as if my ideas, opinions, work ethic, education, and over all skill set was hindered, and was just flat out not valued. Although my coworkers and direct managers were amazing, I just couldn't shake the rut I felt I was in. I remember getting up every morning, and thinking, "I'm spending 9-10 hours a day away from Elijah, for THIS?!" At first, I almost felt obligated to stay on with them some time after I returned to work, mostly because my direct manager gave me the opportunity to work from home the last month of my maternity leave, but after a conversation with her about my frustrations, and her expressing understanding, I quickly updated my resume and was officially on the hunt.
Working Mom vs Stay-At-Home Mom
My husband and I had come to an agreement. Over the course of 2 months, if I did not find a new job that I was "over the moon" excited about, I would transition to becoming a stay at home mom - not forever, but for at least a year or two. I'm not going to lie, over time, I sometimes hoped I wouldn't find something I liked. Confidence-wise, I was at a very low point. I didn't feel smart enough, savvy enough, pretty enough, or just good enough in general (I was 4 months post-partum). I was so emotionally defeated, and the only thing that really made me feel good about myself was being the best mom I could be to Elijah. Then, the phone rang - it was my future boss.
My interview and hiring process was seriously one for the books. It nearly took three months for me to come in for my first interview, to me actually starting in my position. A lot of restructuring and reclassification was going on in my department, so there were MANY delays. At one point, HR had decided to hold off on hiring for this particular position, but a week later was brought back on again. It was definitely a roller coaster, but I am so glad I stuck around for the ride.
Working in higher education, you quickly learn that this world is not all about you. The only reason I have my job is because of the thousands of students I interact with every single day who are committed to pursuing an education and obtaining the best life possible for themselves and their families. What could be more motivating than that? In addition to facility and budgetary administration, creation of policy and procedural correspondence, oversee the opening of 2 additional facilities, and basically being my Director's right-hand wo"man", I have recently been given the opportunity to organize, coordinate, and direct my own student support program that will provide immense resource to our student population.
The Value of Being Valued
One year after the lowest point in my life, I have never been happier. I wake up in the morning excited to go to work - to interact with my amazing coworkers and to make a difference. I am truly confident in my decision to be a working mom, and never in my life have I been more valued, and respected, both at home in my role as a mom and wife, and in the workplace. My opinions and insight matter, and the over-pouring of support and guidance is what I am so grateful for. Not to mention, my son is always so excited to get to school in the morning and see his friends and teachers - sometimes, he doesn't even want to leave when I'm there to pick him up! I couldn't ask for a better situation.
If you are at a "stand-still" in life - work, relationships, family, health, ANYTHING - be resilient and keep pushing through. Explore, learn more about yourself and what you truly love and is important to you. Do not settle until you do!
In time, IT WILL ALL GET BETTER.