I was at lunch on Wednesday, the weekly lunch I call the Mommy lunch, and a friend mentioned that she had a good article for beating the baby blues and making sure you keep an identity outside of being a mom.  I replied that I guess we all have different challenges, even with so much in common at the moment.  In this case, there are no women I have met at the Mommy lunch who have any concrete plans for a return to work.  It's a 'someday/maybe' kind of thing for them right now.

For me, the return to work is on the near horizon and the last thing I am feeling is baby blues, any kind of identity crisis or that I might spend too much time focused on my baby at the expense of myself.  I love being Pea's mom and I am cherishing every undistracted minute with him.  Well, except for the moments of fearing that when I go back to work I am not going to be there enough for him.

Because of this fear, I have played through all the options and scenarios - returning as planned, not returning to work for the time being, going part time, changing jobs and possibly location, weighing the impacts of these alternatives on the Saffa, guessing what they would mean to Pea and to my career - and not found the perfect 'have it all' option.  It doesn't take a genius to understand there are 24 hours a day and fitting in precious family time, reaching personal goals, achieving financial stability and enjoying life is either going to mean giving up on sleep and burning out or, more realistically and what I think will be crucial to navigating the next months, prioritizing, compromising and rebalancing our lives as a family.  (Unless we win the lottery.  We'll hang onto that as Plan B for now though.)

With the holidays in the rearview mirror, this was all weighing heavily on my mind when I received a call from the new C-level responsible for my part of the company's organization (the predecessor resigned end of 2011).  Before this call, I had tossed and turned and spent a sleepless night trying to decide what I should say to him.  I worked closely with him previously before his promotion, had asked him to be my mentor when I joined the company last spring and have a great deal of respect for him and in turn he knows me, my strengths and weaknesses pretty well.  I viewed his promotion positively for both the company and for my future endeavors.  However, I could foresee that with my new personal priorities and the intensity of my responsibility for establishing a new organization and managing the current fires that I could be entering into rough waters and, to be quite honest, was feeling overstretched before even returning to work.

So when the first question he asked in the call was if I felt I could handle my position alone in the coming months, I told him honestly that I had some concerns.  He shared with me his personal experience from when his second child was born, his family was living isolated in a foreign country and his work situation was stressful and requiring beyond excessive hours.  The impact on him and his family was as you could imagine.  He then offered to adjust my responsibilities for the next 6-12 months by partnering me up with a more senior woman in the company until we get over the the hump of some of the challenges at work and to allow me a better work-life balance on re-entry.  It still won't be an easy road and I am stubbornly independent by nature, but I felt flooded with relief and had the sense that a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

I have a month to think about the offer and we will discuss how to proceed in the beginning of March.  While it may mean slowing down my career trajectory somewhat, I think it is the right thing to do for Pea, the Saffa, the company and myself.  A first compromise and re-prioritization.  The first of many, I suspect.

Posted from Munich

1 comment:

Expat Traveler said...

I think your concerns were exactly what I expressed as well. In the end I've chosen what you are thinking of doing because I'm thinking about 5 or 10 years down the road and what will be right for us then. I think it's all about give and take and at least you have had this amount of time off which is less than the norm there, but way more than the norm in the US. I still can't imagine being back at work at 3 months. I just don't know how US mom's do that...

I think your heart will tell you where to go. I'm back in 2 wks to work.. Boo. :( I've enjoyed the time off a lot and have been savoring these last moments.