It could have been yesterday. The emotions are that real. The next day was the first day back to school after Christmas Break (back when it was PC to actually call it Christmas Break) and I sat sobbing in my bed because I desperately didn't want to go back to school the following day. This was before bullying and Mean Girls. I didn't hate school - in fact I was the model student. Straight A's, always overly prepared, etc. I was simply crying because I didn't want to go back. I wanted to stay at home some more, to spend time cooking with my mother, reading what I wanted to read, and doing whatever else it is that children do. Of course, the next day came and back to school I went.
But now 20 years later, I sit in my own grown-up bed, with my sweet baby asleep in his crib and my husband typing away on his laptop, and I honestly feel like that little girl from days gone by. I would like to cry, but I won't, because seriously, what mother cries about having to go back to work after PAID weeks off. But I really want to. I don't want to go back to work. Not because I hate my job (thankfully, I enjoy it most days), but because I can think of the hundreds of other things I'd rather be doing besides achieving the objectives of others.
I think of all the things I've missed in my son's life because of work and the guilt sets in. Then I think of the year ahead. The travel, the extreme amount of work, the late nights, and the lack of energy I have because of all of it and the guilt gets even heavier. And so is the plight of every working mother I suspect. Even the hard core ones have to have some guilt somewhere about missing out on time with their babies.
But I got here by my own making. When I took my current job, I made a very bold and naive statement starting out. I said I wanted to be a CEO - loudly. In many companies that wouldn't mean a thing, but I was fortunate enough to get the attention of our CEO and was offered a personal mentorship with him. (Hang with me with here, the end isn't what you expect). I count my blessing for this opportunity because in the brief period of time I've counted him as a "mentor" I've learned more about God's plan for my life than I ever have in my entire life. You know the saying "Every time you make a plan, God laughs"? Well he's been laughing really REALLY hard at me - we're talking a night at the comedy club type of laughing here.
What I've discovered is I don't have what it takes to be a CEO. And while I don't doubt my managerial and technical skills, I have come to realize that I seriously lack the ability to walk away from my family, to neglect their basic emotional needs, to put myself (and career) first. I can't erase the guilt or even put it in a box and be "OK" with it. So as I head into the new year, I struggle with how to retract my silly and naive statement from months ago. How to tell my CEO "Thanks but No Thanks" while conveying that I'm still a dedicated and engaged employee.
I count my blessing every day that I have a great paying job that I enjoy, but that doesn't stop the fear that comes with drastically changing how people see you. I won't cry when I head back to the office tomorrow, or even when I relax in the shower tonight, but I will fondly think of that little girl 20 years ago who did, but who also pushed through and not only survived but thrived.