Last Friday was the first day of June, and the last day of my working life, at least for a couple of months. Here is a run-down of what I accomplished:
1. Arrived at work relatively early and spent a good 4 hours finalizing my cheat-sheet for colleagues who are taking on my work while I’m out, and generally emptying my inbox: a truly amazing feeling of accomplishment there.
2. Took a 1.5 hour lunch with a colleague who will be gone by the time I get back (she’s finishing her degree now), and procured only a mild sunburn (amazingly).
3. Returned to the office to send out a few final ‘I’m really leaving now!’ emails.
4. Celebrated ‘free doughnut day’ with a friend: decaf iced latte and the first doughnut I’ve eaten in, oh, at least a few years. Then got a pedicure at a local (and totally sketchy, yet fabulous) Malden establishment. Our toes are now neon and utterly obnoxious.
5. Back to the office only long enough to open a final baby present from another colleague/friend, then scooped up by two more friends/colleagues for a mid-afternoon ice cream and final office-gossip session.
6. Finished up work-things and drove home with my handsome husband in time for him to play tennis and me to walk the dog and tidy the house a bit in preparation for our friend to come over for grilled ribs and veggies–truly delicious! The boys had cocktails and I had one delicious sip . . .
7. Puttered around the house a bit until past my bedtime, then proceeded to have a small nervous breakdown and sob violently in bed until falling asleep, comforted by sympathetic husband and concerned-looking dog.
#7 is an odd one, I’ll admit. After such a full and fabulous day, what does a girl have to cry over? Liberation from my questionably-pleasurable daily employment, even for a short while, should have me jumping for joy, right? Right??
I’ve always had a bit of a troubled ambivalence in regards to working, mothering, roles in the home, etc. I married an ambitious and over-functioning man who does a great job supporting our very comfortable lifestyle, despite my pitance of a salary from academic publishing. He’d always dreamed of marrying a high-powered woman who made lots of money. Instead he got me. I’m not the most driven person on the planet, but I have my moments, and I’m nothing if not a supportive wife. I may be incurably lazy, but I do it with style, and I like employment. He made it clear from the outset that he’d be fine with whatever employment/motherhood choices I’d care to make, now or ever, but I’ve never had any interest in not working, either during motherhood or otherwise.
I tend to be a bit unfocused in general, and completely useless and distracted without some distinct structure to my days, and the traditional structure of employment–i.e. the 9 to 5 grind–stabilizes and comforts me. I’m also an incurable capitalist: I really love getting a paycheck for my weekly activities. It makes me and my life feel useful and worthwhile: even if it wasn’t a great day/week/month/year, at least there’s someone out there who feels I’m worth the money.
This is not to say that I don’t greatly respect (to an extreme) the work of raising children and running a household–quite the contrary. I was raised by two wonderful working parents and one superhuman woman who made the sun rise and set every day for our family. Her daily grind extended beyond regular corporate hours, and she did everything and more our parents would have done, had they been at home all day. But I just don’t think I have it in me to be at home all day. There’s simultaneously not enough and too much stimulation for my ADD brain, and no one is writing me a paycheck to stay on task. I have only respect for the men and women who can make it work, but it’s not for me.
I stopped crying eventually, and on Day 2 of non-employment I seem to be holding up ok. Between doctor’s appointments, yoga, grocery and baby-clothes shopping, dog-walking, hospital-bag-packing, and socializing I’ve managed to keep myself pretty distracted from the fact that, starting today, the paychecks I’ll be getting will be marked “temporary disability” (a category I find simultaneously insulting and hilarious, considering my condition). This not-working-for-money thing is only temporary, I keep telling myself. And I’m about to start working very hard indeed for no money, any day now, so for the time being I’ll just have to make do.