When I am not busy opining about you-know-who over at the Vatican, I have my new part-time job to tend to. And here, three weeks in, I can already feel the pain of the illusions I brought with me as they shatter and fall to pieces around my feet.
I can’t believe that I actually assumed these things, especially now that reality has spit in my face.
1. My kids will miss me so much. Of course I thought this. I mean, suddenly I am gone for two whole days– missing snacks, wake-ups, and preschool pick ups. This is a big deal. Except not so much for them. Honestly, I’ve never seen them happier than they are these days. I am not taking that
2. The job will have a nice gentle ramp-up period. I assumed that the workload would slowly build like an exercise routine for a cardiac patient. What actually happened is that as soon as I was done with the HR presentation on “What To Do During A Bomb Threat,” I got a nice thick stack of papers to call my own. With a relatively short deadline. And the next day, I got another stack. The stacks, they keep coming.
3. I will be extra nice to my kids on my long work days. Thanks a lot, Universe. Is it too much to ask that when I roll in the door at 6PM, we all just get along? At least a tiny bit? My vision is to come in after a day of work and scoop up my kids and listen raptly as they fill me in every single thing I missed. But sometimes I am stressed from work, they are cranky and we are out of milk (for them) and pudding (for me). Sometimes I limp through our diminished number of hours together, heavy with disappointment that even though I am working now we are all still human. Devastatingly human.
4. My brain will snap back quickly to its former condition. It was only two years that I was out of the legal game. That’s not so long right? I assumed that the complicated analyses I did during my time at home (how late can I let Simon sleep and still get to Sadie school on time? or what are the odds that Jeff gets up with Sadie if I just pretend to be asleep?) would keep my mind sharp-ish. That didn’t happen. Let’s just say on Day 1 I had to look up the spelling of the word “prejudice.” And then I still spelled it wrong.
5. A baggie of roasted almonds is all I need in my snack drawer. In the old days when I had a desk job, I had a modest snack drawer (except when I was pregnant; then I had a snack closet), so naturally I assumed that some roasted nuts (a lil fat, a lil protein) would suffice. And that still works. Until about 10:00 AM. Then, I am all where are the real snacks?
6. I can ignore Ann’s siren song. I am a mom of two, one of whom is in private preschool and one is on his way. Surely, I am not going to fall for those emails luring me to Ann Taylor Loft for the sales, right? I mean, who needs new clothes when her clothes from 2010 are just fine. I did hold off, dear Readers, until that pesky 30% off President’s Day sale.
7. Public transportation will be invigorating. I love the train– I can read, be with my thoughts, enjoy some people watching. I thought it would be extra fun to join the rush hour train crowd once again. Not only did the Chicago commuting public NOT open me with open arms, they saw fit to step on my toes, shove my backpack aside and spray their germy sneezy bits all over me. Not so much invigorating as it is humiliating.
You get the picture right? I won’t even bore you with the assumption I made that I would be able to achieve work-life balance with a part-time job, because hey! It’s only 20 hours a week. I forgot to include extra time for the obsessing and fretting that I am not doing the job correctly or that I made a mistake. That extra time? Adds about 20 hours to the week.
Have you gone back to work? Did you have to deal with your erroneous assumptions?