In November 2011, about a month after my surgery, I found out that my position at work was eliminated. Or rather, due to reorganization, I was eliminated from my position. I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks and things really couldn't get much lower. Brian and I spent several weekends re-evaluating our finances, exploring options and coming to the terms that I would be a stay-at-home mom.
It's not that I didn't see all the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and provided an amazing upbringing to my siblings and me. It also didn't have to do with the fact that being a stay-at-home mom is HARD (even though I was afraid!). During my extended leave of absence, I had the chance to see how many balls needed to be juggled - schedules, meals, laundry, chores, housecleaning, sports practices, etc. On top of that, the unending patience and love that need to be provided by being that primary support are a phenomenal feat. My concern was that I enjoyed working. I like being part of work teams and coaching associates and collaborating to make processes better and smarter. I had invested a lot of years in my career and was proud of my accomplishments. Losing my position at work was another chip away at my identity. On top of the cancer and my mastectomy, not having my career made me start to wonder what was left.
My instructions at work were to come back from leave and find a new position. As I finished with my radiation in January, I went back to work, full of questions and concern. It was at that point, a project manager position was identified. It was a new position and I was told I would have the opportunity to mold it into my own. On top of a new challenge, it offered a lot of flexibility. I would be able to get to doctor's appointments and chemotherapy and make up the time on my own terms. The travel that had consumed me before had all but evaporated. A few weeks after I took my new position, I was told that I could start working from home. That meant a printer, computer, and phone would all be supplied to me. It meant on the days I didn't feel well, I would be able to work from my bed! And on top of everything, it merged all of the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom with begin able to maintain my career.
Working from home has been incredible. When I have breaks in between meetings, I am able to go into my kitchen and see Evan eating in his high chair. When Evan is sick, I am able to squeeze in extra cuddles and kisses. If I don't have morning or afternoon meetings, I am able to walk to the bus stop with Gavin and Cohen. It enables me to throw dinner in the crock-pot at 11:00 and get that last minute birthday card at 3:00. Most importantly, when I wrap up at 4:30 because all of the boys are home, I can plug back in after they are all in bed and finish my work for the day. I have taken conference calls from the chemotherapy chair and sent many meetings notes from the waiting room.
Being at home provides unforeseen challenges though. I feel pressure to make sure laundry is done, sheets are clean and grocery shopping is completed. I find myself finishing up five minutes early from one conference call, sprinting upstairs to strip some sheets and flying back downstairs just in time for the next meeting to start. Right now, my office is located on the main floor in our home. There have been times when I have been breaking up arguments or I am spotted by Evan when he gets up from his nap and it's just easier to play with him than let him cry it out. It can be a challenge to focus and stay innovative when there are so many competing priorities. And even though I have a someone watching Evan in my house, somehow, he seems to sneak away and find me. This was the view from my office just a few weeks ago.
I didn't realize that losing my position would turn into such a fantastic opportunity. I don't have to worry about missing school conferences or musicals or bedtimes anymore. I love having a career that's my own, while still contributing to the smallest moment's in my family's day. Truly, there are silver linings around the darkest clouds.