As I type this, just about a year later, I can’t remember the exact date that I was called in to the office of my manager’s manager. But I do remember the ominous tone of the email that summoned me there. And I vividly remember the bright paisley printed voile skirt and brand new, purchased-with- my- corporate-discount turquoise chandelier earrings that I was wearing. (It’s funny how you block out some details, yet others are so clear.)
My story is not uncommon from many others who have been in this situation (except perhaps the choice of wardrobe), and the formula is quite simple: changing economy + changing spending habits of consumers= corporate realignment and downsizing.
Downsizing happens to the best of us. But no one ever really thinks that it will happen to them. Until it does…
So a summer was spent a bit hazy, a bit dazy but sweetened by the sight of my son happily squirming in his kiddie pool on the beach for I-don’t-remember-how-many weeks down at the Jersey Shore. And through long, rambling walks with my stroller-bound sidekick along Lavallette’s Grand Central Avenue, I thought, I processed, I prayed, I strategized.
And by the Fall, I had a little plan, with a few projects lined up: A social media gig for an online gourmet food company. Some voice over work. In-home events showcasing my infamous double chocolate walnut biscotti (more on those in another post!) And then I started to focus on my writing – a few pieces for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, a guest post on Triple Threat Mommy’s blog, and then of course, THIS blog!
Settling into my new career as a mostly stay-at-home mama was a tough transition for me, but frankly, I haven’t looked back.
Sure, I miss the collaboration, the creative stimulation, the industry and the perks that came with the territory of working in the fashion industry. But I actively seek out ways for creative collaboration where I can – from taking on freelance projects to heading the Silent Auction Committee of my town’s Women’s Club fundraiser event. And while I whole-heartedly miss the thrills of the city, I sure as hell do not miss the commute.
I’ve learned to really savor the little things. Like rolling around my living room floor tickling my tot at any hour of the day, and being very present in my son’s activities. Like those times in his Wednesday morning Music for Aardvarks class, when I witness Roc doing something so silly, that only being there in the moment is the real way to truly capture its magic. Or watching him swim underwater for the first time, all wide-eyed and exasperated as he comes up for air — a little scared, a little enthralled but wanting “more, more, mama!”
I am profoundly grateful to have been able to experience both sides of the fence – life as a working mother and life as a stay at home mother. And while each state of mothering has its own pluses, minuses, rewards and challenges, I’m still not completely sure which state is really the best for a mother or her child. I don’t think anyone really knows the answer to that one. As mothers, we all do the best we can to raise our kids to be happy, healthy and well-adjusted individuals, while still managing to stay connected to our authentic selves. But here’s what I can tell you, based upon my own recent experience:
I rarely get migraines anymore. I suppose the stress of constantly being on the run, coupled with the stress of my work and constant worry about my boy fueled my chronic headaches. Maybe it’s all the singing and dancing in Roc’s music class, but I can attest that my headaches have seriously decreased.
I lost 15lbs. No longer sedentary 8 hours a day at a desk, I’m chasing after a very active toddler and also made a solid commitment to a nutrition and exercise regime. Oh, and not having “meeting leftovers” like picked-over bagels, brownies and sandwiches certainly helps keep the pounds off, too!
I’ve expanded my social circle. By having the time to be more involved in community activities, I actually got to meet and integrate with my neighbor who lives 4 doors down from me and reconnect with a friend from high school.
I love project work. I love the variety of the work that I do – from freelance projects to volunteer work. It’s constantly changing, keeps my mind fresh and my creativity brewing. But my husband hates the piles I have pertaining to my projects around the house. And golly, do I have lots of them!
I worry still, but differently. When Roc’s nanny would call me at work, I would *always* answer in a hot panic with, “Jeannie, what’s wrong…is he ok??” It got so bad, that she would immediately say to me, “He’s fine…everything’s OK with the baby….” before I could even ask. I would always worry that something would happen while he was in the care of a stranger and I was an hour away in Manhattan. Now I worry about where my next gig will come from, how my son’s language is developing, etc. This type of worry, however, does not give me heart palpitations.
Looking back to June 1st -ish of last year, there’s probably one thing I would’ve changed – my outfit.