Today marks seven weeks that I have been off work. Why is this significant? Well, aside from the fact that my severance is dwindling and I really need to get a new job (next interview this Thursday and a follow-up next Thursday!), seven weeks is important because it marks the same period of time as both of my maternity leaves. That means that as of tomorrow I will officially be away from work longer than I've ever been since I started my grown-up career life. That's pretty significant. And as much as I've enjoyed it, hopefully it will never happen again...unless it's on my own terms.
I feel like I've definitely settled into this existence much easier than I thought I would. I don't miss work as much as I thought I would, but in another couple weeks I'll definitely be missing the paycheck, and that's really the main reason I need to go back. As I've said previously, this experience has taught me that checking things off a to do list for my family is much more fulfilling than doing it for "the man". Maybe my next job will change my perspective on that a bit, but the reality of the way my last job ended might stick with me for a while, a stark reminder of how quickly dedication can feel pointless. Still, my ongoing dream of working part time has been validated. I would love to have the best of both worlds. I love the thought of having spare time and brain power to dedicate to my family while still having something that's my own. I realized the other day that when I "grow up" (haha) I really just want to be my mom :) She worked part time for years and gave us a great mix of support and independence. She was there to do fun stuff when we weren't in school and be involved when we were, but we also had a bit of the latch-key experience (which I think is important for learning to self-motivate on homework, for example). If I could give my kids anything like that, I would be thrilled. But for now full-time work is a must, so I'm going to have to make the best of it...assuming I can actually get a job. I'm getting close on the one I really want, but there's still a few more steps to go, so no chicken-counting here.
In the meantime I still have at least another week or two of time at home. I'm really trying to appreciate all of it, from the extra time with Carter to the extra hour of sleep, from the slower pace in the morning to the extra opportunity to do household chores. I've enjoyed my bonus doses of 80s game shows, "What Not to Wear", and "Friends". I just like having the bandwidth to think about things and the time to do the things I need to do. It's nice to not panic about doctor's appointments or school events. If I need to go to the store, I can. It may take a day here or there, but fitting it in somehow isn't an issue right now.
Lately I've actually been doing a lot of clothes shopping. That probably seems ill-advised considering our income is a couple weeks from being cut pretty dramatically, but there are a couple reasons why I'm doing it. First, my wardrobe has evolved the past few years. My old job shifted to casual attire (i.e., jeans were OK every day), then I was pregnant for a while, and eventually my body changed. Certain elements of my wardrobe no longer fit well or no longer felt like "me". Some things have gotten a bit worn, too, and while those issues didn't feel like a big deal in my old job, it's a totally different ballgame when you're making first impressions again. So, in anticipation of getting a job with more formal attire where I need to make a good first impression, I've been taking advantage of my abundance of time to rebuild my wardrobe. I'd rather do it now while I have the time than try to cram it in once I'm working again. There won't be many spare evenings or weekend days where Craig can keep the kids, and even when those happen, I would be rushing around and merely hoping to catch a good sale. Right now I'm strategically trying to take advantage of coupons, sales, and clearance racks, but it still adds up. Still, I think there's something to be said for heading into a new job with a wardrobe that inspires self-confidence. Like I said, I've been watching a lot of "What Not to Wear" and it's very clear to me that the right look can change your entire perspective on yourself. If nothing else, having a look you're comfortable with gives you one less thing to be distracted by, so you can focus on the important stuff instead. I'm just trying to get enough new pieces to work with the rest, and hopefully it'll be enough.
There's a lot about this time I will miss when it is finally over. For now I'm doing my best to enjoy them. I'm enjoying my lack of a commute and my added time to work out. I'm trying to hit up things still on my to do list. I'm hoping to exit this phase of my life with as few regrets as possible. It's potentially a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I want to make the most of it...even if I'm still trying to figure out on a daily basis how to do that. Seven weeks in there is still never a dull moment, and it makes me wonder how I functioned while working full time. If I've had enough stuff to fill those eight hours a day (and then some) for this long, how many things were just sitting undone for infinite amounts of time? It's a little scary thinking about going back to that life, but it's imperative that I do. All I can do is use all of this as an opportunity for a fresh start all around. If there's a better way to do things, I'm determined to use this experience to help me find it. I will make the best of this time. It would be a shame to let the dark side win, you know? If my former employer didn't think I was worth keeping around (I was, by the way), then I'm going to make darn sure that the version of me that comes out of this experience is never going to be considered expendable again.
Onward to discover what happens after seven weeks...