Being a (Temporary) Misfit

This is my 3rd week back to work.  In many ways it feels like I never left, but then it becomes apparent I was gone for 7 months.

The hardest part is not knowing my place anymore.  I had only been in my new position two months when I went out on leave (but with the organization doing this job two years).  I knew my purpose, and what I was doing, and where I was needed.  Even on leave I helped out a bit when things got backlogged.  But now, I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do or where I fit in.

Two new people were hired to do the same type of job I do.  This had been planned, but the first one was supposed to be hired a year after me, with the third a year after that.  My being gone precipitated moving the hiring timeline up.  I’m still the senior person in the position, for whatever that’s worth.

I find myself not doing what everyone else is doing, because nothing is being sent my way.  It takes a good year to truly learn the processes, and feel like one has a handle on things.  The new people are in their 4th month.  But even though I’ve answered questions and done training for them, I’m still lost.

Not much work is heading my way.  I know this is only my 3rd week, but I’m the kind of person who prefers to be busy.  I like it when I don’t know how I’ll get everything done, but then I do.  I’m taking on some special projects, by request, because I want to get involved and get busy.  I’m excited to be involved in these, and it will open doors for future projects, but it’s not quite what I expected.

In my job I loved – and still love – in an organization I think is great among people I actually like to work with I’m feeling like a fish out of water.  It’s a really uncomfortable feeling.  I’m sure it will be fine soon, because I’m always optimistic.  But in a place where I used to know most things going on I now don’t know anything going on, and no one is asking me to join in and figure it out.  And jumping in isn’t helping.  I don’t like feeling like a misfit in a place I considered home.

The Amy Glass Controversy

I just read the Amy Glass article that has generated a lot of chatter.  She titled it “I Look Down on Young Women with Husbands and Kids and I’m not Sorry.”  I took it to mean she was out to generate discussion and cause controversy, because if she truly sees the world so black and white without many shades of grey then her world is awfully small.  I also don’t really like the term feminist (used in this article and others she wrote).  I know my girls can do anything they set their minds to, and they will be successful at whatever interests them.  I think the same for boys.  I’m glad we women have so many opportunities, and are limited only by our imaginations, and I am grateful to all the women before me who made it possible.  I also don’t see anything wrong with either gender staying home, having an important job, or choosing from the million options available to live life.  That said, here are some thoughts on the article…

I was 28 when I had Oldest One, and I’m not sure if I fall in the young mother category.  Looking back I was young and clueless, but I had no idea.  Husband and I had been married for a year and a half, and it just felt like the right time to start a family.  We have had no regrets because our family has brought us so much joy.

I have a good friend who decided not to have kids.  She and her husband travel, they both have jobs they love, and they dote on their nieces and nephews.  I don’t see her life as less fulfilling, just a different way of being fulfilling.  I don’t think she looks down on me for my choice to have kids.  We’ve known each other since high school, and what is important is that each of us is happy with our choices.

That wasn’t really the gist of the article.  She goes into why we don’t celebrate promotions for women, or women taking the trip of a lifetime.  Ummm, I’ve celebrated promotions.  When my sister traveled to Australia, New Zealand and Asia for a year on her own we all celebrated her return, and wanted to hear about it.  We didn’t celebrate these with a huge reception, but I’ve been to backyard wedding receptions with 15 people and wedding receptions with 300 people in a swanky setting  People celebrate what they choose and how they choose, and whether it is celebrating a wedding or birth, or a graduation or promotion, what really matters is who is celebrating it with you.  If you are alone, or had to grab people you barely know, well, personally, that is a sad life to me.  But if you celebrate with people you love, be it family, friends, whoever, then you have a wonderfully rich life.  I didn’t know until I read the article that there were limited life celebrations.  I’d better get under control and stop celebrating the wrong stuff in the wrong manner.

I also have to say that getting married and having kids may seem like easy tasks, but they really aren’t.  Yes, anyone can go to Vegas and get married pretty fast to someone they barely know.  But being in a marriage, and staying in a marriage and growing together in a marriage isn’t easy.  It takes work.  It is definitely more difficult at times than any job I have had.  And so very, very worth it.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for the biggest most important job in the world.  The same with kids.  Raising kids is hard.  When you first hold that baby you have no idea what you are in for.  You might think you do, and you’ll laugh at that later.  Again, I wouldn’t trade having my girls and raising them for any job.  It’s been hard, it’s been amazing, and it has hands down been the best thing Husband and I have done.

And it is hard to work, raise kids, and manage the household.  I don’t do it alone, Husband does it with me because we do our life together.  I think to say men don’t care to manage a household and equate it to being stupid and not important unfortunately makes the person spouting it seem that way.   “Real work” and housework are both equally important, whether you are married with kids, married, single with kids, single, have a partner, a roommate, whatever.  Maybe laundry doesn’t seem important, or paying those pesky bills, or fixing a leaky roof, or doing the sink full of dishes, but they are.  Little things also make life keep going.  Why is it okay to pay someone to do those things, including raising kids, to have a career, but it isn’t okay for a woman to do them as a career, or in addition to a career?  Looking at a clean kitchen after I’ve finished scrubbing it down is an amazing feeling (but don’t tell my Husband…he usually cleans the kitchen!).

Amy is entitled to her position, and again, I think she was looking to be controversial.  For me being a wife and mother has been the best and most satisfying job.  And I’ve had the big job.  I left it because it was the worst thing I ever did, and I was the unhappiest, most depressed and angry me I had ever been while in that job.  The job I loved best was staying home when the girls were babies and concentrating on them and making edible meals for everyone.  Right now I have a good job, by no means a big job, with interesting people, I smile a lot, and I get to be a wife and mother to the most amazing Husband and daughters in the world.  If it is possible to have the best of both worlds I am pretty darn close.  I hope Amy loves her life and the people in it as much as I love mine and the people who make it wonderful.