So far, motherhood has been a great lesson in not preplanning my emotions. It’s also been a humbling reminder that I can feel as confident as I want in how I assume I’ll feel about something, but that won’t always make it true. So, this is a post about embracing a new challenge.
When I graduated from Penn State, I was a starry-eyed young professional determined to carve out a career for myself in the communications and marketing industry. Like so many before me, I started at a large agency with 10+ clients and ultimately burned out after grinding it out for several years. At the time, moving companies and working on a single client felt like a cure for all the ills of agency life. I never considered that in reality, a change in my career trajectory was what I wanted deep down but didn’t have the bravery or privilege of pursuing at the time. And, overlooked in my pursuit to find tolerable working circumstances was that the passion I felt during my college studies was rapidly fading.
Everything that I had envisioned in college about working in the communications field – having the creative license to draft content to my liking, using my creative writing skills, etc. – I quickly realized were not available in an agency or government contracting setting.
I also realized that the solution I’d been looking for all along was right in front of me – embracing the challenge of using my blog as a creative outlet sounded so freeing (no bureaucratic approval processes, no guardrails). I don’t think I ever would have come about this realization without meeting Eleanor. As a matter of fact, if you’d have asked me (or anyone who knew me), even up until the drive to the hospital to deliver Eleanor, I was dead certain that I would be returning to work at the end of my allotted leave.
Managing My Emotions
Since Eleanor has been born, I’ve done my best to live in the moment and soak up every minute of time off I’ve had with her. And I have been able to, to a certain extent. But in the back of my mind, I have constantly had this lingering feeling of anxiety that time has been passing too quickly, and that before long, she’d be off to daycare.
It was hard to manage the emotions I was feeling about dropping her off at daycare to work at home from my living room in a career that I was feeling burnt out from and had been quickly losing passion for. At the same time, it was hard to manage the emotions I was feeling about potentially leaving my job – even if temporarily – what a huge identity shift that would be for me, and what judgment may come along with it. And also, what a unique privilege it is to even have the choice for me to step back from a traditional career, even if only temporarily, and how cognizant I am that this is certainly not an option for everyone despite how deep that desire may be.
The main thought that consumed me was, what happens when you start to actually FEAR being promoted? I was starting to feel terrified of more opportunities at work and what that would mean, rather than feeling that excitement I associated with advancement early in my career. It felt more and more clear that climbing further up the corporate ladder meant further distancing myself from life at home with my family, and my new daughter.
While the anxiety of an identity shift of staying home is slightly less than the anxiety I have about missing out on precious time with Eleanor that I won’t get back, it very much still exists. Am I making the right decision? Will I regret this? These are questions that I can’t know the answer to in the moment, but what I do know is that this is what feels right for me and my family at this time. And what this has taught me is that it's important to remain open, to not blindly assume I know exactly how I’ll feel in any given situation because you truly can’t know until you’re in it.
So, with excitement and fear, I am embracing a new challenge and starting a new journey and trading in “Account Supervisor and Eleanor’s Mom” for “Eleanor’s Mom and Hopeful Blogger on the Side.” Who knows how long this will last, who knows how I’ll feel months or years from now, but I have a feeling I won’t regret trying.