Way back a hundred thousand years ago in the land that time forgot (also known as "before kids") I was pregnant and working for the very awesome Fred Brown (who I am sure doesn't read my blog but if ever he were to stop by, I want him to know he was one of the best bosses I ever had and I'm forever grateful to him for saying what he said which I will now stop parantheticalizing and just get on with...)
I was planning my maternity leave, who would be covering for me and all that. They were starting a new big project down in Dallas and for obvious reasons involving a uterus and my body, I wouldn't be going down for. I was discussing particulars with Fred and reviewing a specific date that I planned for my return (just after Thanksgiving, 2001 as I recall. Or was it just before?) He said to me, "Well, don't worry too much about the specifics. You never know how you'll feel about coming back once you have the baby."
At the time, I remember feeling rather ... annoyed by that remark. Fred was not known for being sexist (at all, he was one of the fairest and most level-headed people I had ever worked for) so I didn't chalk it up to that (sadly I had other less level-headed people I worked with in my past to give me ample opportunities of what it looked like when someone was being sexist.) But I did kind of shake my head and think to myself that Fred was an old (lol, maybe 5 yrs older than me?) fuddy duddy.
Fast forward a few days and I had a baby. And the skies opened up, and light shone down, and that baby transformed me.
And I was not just a worker anymore. A mother. I had been working in some capacity for more than 10 years by that point. I had started working as a snot-nosed 19 year old part-time college intern, and just never stopped. I was defined by my job, and I defined myself by my profession (technology consulting, in case you were curious.)
And then that day in September came and my world tilted on its axis and there I was, a mom. And there was this new tiny person, a whole life, and me and his dad as the primary people charged with keeping him alive and well. Gulp.
Ten days later, planes started crashing into buildings and the whole world tilted again. And it was like everyone was being transformed with me, from naivete to world-weary, from simple to cynical. But I had the best part of the bargain because I had that aforementioned beautiful baby, still sweet-smelling and pink in his perfectness.
And then that day in November came and I left him, buckled him up in his carseat to go with daddy to the daycare in daddy's building. And I cried, but I dried the tears and got ready and carried my bag to the train and re-became that worker. But now I wasn't just a worker but a worker AND a mother. And I felt simultaneously more than before, and torn in two, because my baby was miles away from me.
It was two long years of working, including another heart-rending scene involving a pink slip and many, many more tears (I may tell you more about that some day.) And then something different in pink - a pink line, a new life growing.
I was on the train, then, all of seven weeks pregnant, and the realization hit me like a kick in the gut. I couldn't do this, not with another baby. Fred's words came back to me with crystal clarity, and I realized what he had meant.
And so my heart, still torn in two from the previous years, started knitting itself back together as I formed plans, ran budget scenarios, and clipped coupons. I quit. We moved. We had another baby.
It's been almost seven years, and I still don't have a written job description. I am still winging it day by day. But I honestly can't imagine a different life for me. And that part is still so shocking, because even as that worker with the huge belly, I never envisioned THIS. I had a lot of personal disdain for this life of the mom--"just" the mom. Not for others who were walking this path, but a personal nose-wrinkle at the idea of *me* doing this particular job full-time. God, what an idiot I was.