Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rejoining the world of the (barely) living

I've survived my first week of work post-maternity leave, although I do feel like I'm cheating a leetle by saying that since my "weeks" are four days long now. Wussy weeks! I'm pretty damned thankful though. Because oh yes, guess what? I've decided a need a new career altogether. But let's not get ahead of ourselves yet.

First, on the professional front. I had a lovely time fielding phone calls and e-mails from colleagues welcoming me back...really nice for the ego, I must say. And frankly I'm very glad for the distraction, because I had little by way of actual work to do this week! Seriously, I billed like six client hours total - the rest was pro bono and "administrative." Eek! Not good, especially since now that I'm on flex-time I actually have a minimum hours requirement (note, however, that full-time associates don't...dur). This being through no fault of my own, since I did my best to throw myself at the assigning partner and get some work. There may be some briefing to do in one of my old cases, in which case, done and done, I'm their girl. Sort of awesome in the sense that I love, love, love drafting, especially with the partner and senior associate in question, but kind of scary in that there are some tortured legal issues involved that I've been super thankful to avoid until now. But it's good for people to have to do things they don't like. In moderation. 

On the baby front, she's been in daycare from about 9am-5pm every day with lots of mommy visits. Those mommy visits are probably going to have to be curtailed, for good reason. First, I am getting NOTHING done by running down every time she's hungry. It's impossible to guess when she's hungry, too, as she's still in that stage where some days she'll eat everything in sight and on others, she couldn't be bothered with food. Also, her napping is all over the place, so sometimes it takes 3-4 calls between the daycare and me to coordinate a feeding. And second, I've had the good fortune to be given a child who is a little advanced for five months. She is already experiencing separation anxiety, and so it's significantly tougher to leave her 5+ times a day than it would be to leave her just once or twice. So I think that once I have a space in which to pump at the office (a WHOLE dramatic side-post in and of itself), I will be feeding her just in the mornings when I drop her off, at lunchtime, and then maybe once before we leave for the day. 

So. Things brings us to my larger feelings about the whole endeavor and why I am getting the slightly sinking, but yet exhilarating, sense that maaaaybe I'm in the wrong field altogether. 

Flex-time is fahreaking me out. On the one hand I feel like I'm making out like a bandit. I'm at home on a Friday morning in my pajamas while the baby is napping sweetly in her own crib. I have ambitious plans to tidy up before Josh gets home and even take the baby to her doctor's appointment. This whole week I was able to walk out of my office at 5, and only yesterday did I have to field some e-mails at night. 

But ah, here's the rub. I haven't had any freaking work to do! And I still felt some sickening guilt leaving at what is essentially the middle of the day! Four days in and I'm tweaking about my career already...because the time will come, and will come soon, when I'm on a busy matter and I'll have work to do in the evenings. Good lord, how will I swing that? Evenings are packed with getting the baby to sleep, fixing dinner, and prepping for the next day. I could go to bed later, but with a baby who still wakes 2-3 times a night, that's heartily unappealing. Weekends are the next in line to be sacrificed, which I always knew was part of the "deal," but it is a little sad to think of giving up our only family time too.

I had some master plan about ramping back up to full time once Piglet's three months at the daycare are up, but I don't think that's super realistic right now. As much as I do think the daycare will be good for her, my heart does break a little at the thought of her in there all day every day. She's been crying a lot, which isn't the biggest issue since she's still a baby. Hell, she cries at home...but it's a different beast for some reason when I think of her crying inconsolably in a strange place with strange people. Obv, this will be rectified in time, but I still can't help but think maybe five days is a bit much to expect. But this is also coming from the perspective of my already being back at work - how quickly we romanticize our previous lives! I'm more protective about "our" time now that I know it's (comparatively) limited.

You might be asking the plainly obvious question: why the hell am I stressing myself out about "big" decisions at the end of the first week? My emotions are clearly out of whack, I'm discombobulated and stoopit, and really tired. True. But the bigger issue here is, what the hell am I doing even contemplating working 60+ hours as essentially a corporate mercenary? Is this what I wanted to do with the rest of my life? Because there was a time when I had promised myself I'd only be doing this type of work to make some quick cash and get out. Now I'm totally meandering because it's "safe" and "easy." And paying for it dearly, because the longer I stay here, the more I'm giving up in terms of finding out what I really want to do with the rest of my life. It's not even the hours anymore. It's that my hours have to be worth something more...I have to be able to justify my time away from my family with something worthwhile. I'm not running the country or curing cancer or even making the world a tiny bit better by what I do. I'm just collecting mad money, which don't get me wrong, is awesome, but...good enough? I don't know. I can't even begin to formulate answers to all the questions swirling around in my head, but I think maybe it's enough to just be asking them at this point.

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