yesterday was my due date, 40 weeks, and my first day of maternity leave. i had planned to work up until i had the baby, but realized i did need some sense of closure as far as work is concerned.
my last day of work i felt a big sense of guilt. guilt for leaving my employees, guilt for the poor woman who has to cover for me, guilt for all of the people i am letting down by not being there. but more than that, guilt for not working. guilt for being lazy. guilt for not making money. guilt for not contributing. and the worry.
for some reason i have always seen my job as an enormous drain that sucks much of me down into it. i have always associated my job with an incredible amount of energy. what it takes to maintain my job has always been larger than me in my mind. and it relies on momentum, it moves so fast that it doesn’t allow me to blink let alone close my eyes and rest. my coping skills have gotten better with age, but even weekends cause me anxiety. being away for any amount of time fills me with dread over what i will come back to. what will fall apart if i leave it for one day, one hour, one minute. if nothing else, i have to think about it constantly to keep it going.
the idea of leaving my job is scary, mainly because of the idea of having to go back. before i even left, all that i could think of was being out for 2-3 months, and trying to come back to it. trying to jump back in to a job like mine is like trying to leap onto a moving freight train.
my work has always been the center to my life in some way. there is a sense of gravity that i associate with work. i can feel a bit lost without it. but the problem is, i take it too far. i wonder where this comes from. i saw my parents work very hard as a child, and never considered a world where people didn’t work. i saw my father extremely devoted to his work and his business, but i also saw him maintaining a certain lifestyle with it. i never got the sense that he was passionate about his work, but that it was something he found success at and that he got something from, something tangible. even as he retired, he has found ways to continue working. the interesting thing to me has been that he hasn’t done things like volunteer or go to school or take up sculpture, he has found work, work similar to what he spent much of his career doing. work that most people would find tedious or not very stimulating.
it’s incredible what a rare thing it is in our society to have a truly fulfilling career. it is a rare thing to find someone making a living doing something that they are truly passionate about or fulfilled by, creatively, intellectually. so few of us have the means or time to dedicate ourselves to the kind of education or training that it takes to make careers out of our passions. i have spent a lot of the last three years considering what it is that i get from my work. i recognize that it is not just a living, it is not just a paycheck for me. while i have always had a certain knack for my line of work, i have to admit that i put quite a bit of myself into it. i take comfort in the structure of it, it makes sense to me. the challenges i have taken on in the last year particularly have been rewarding in a different way. i have accomplished a lot, within the confines or bounds or framework of my job, and it’s given me confidence. personally. it’s surprising to admit that. my soul is most certainly not a middle manager in finance. but i have learned to face confrontation and to find solutions to things that i had previously found uncomfortable and preferred to run away from or ignore. this translates to life, it spills over. also, being responsible for 32 people has prepared me for motherhood in some way.
i started this position just as i found out that i was pregnant. being pregnant while working, my job running along with my pregnancy over the past 9 months has been a huge period of growth for me. it has not been easy. i have had to push myself in ways i never dreamed, through all of the challenges of being pregnant. in a lot of ways i’ve had to ignore the fact that i was pregnant. some part of me knows that i need to give all of my attention to this child, to the birth that is coming. for now that means putting my job aside completely. really making room. but i do know that what i really need to learn, most in life, is how to balance. so this baby is coming to me, this libra baby, and i can’t help but wonder how i will manage it all. but i know that he will teach me.