Posts Tagged ‘Stay at Home Mom Returning to Work’

Mama-Back-to-Work Update

I remember my first job in an office when I was seventeen.  The youth pastor at our church hired me to be his receptionist over the summer after my junior year. It was a start-up plastic injection molding company. Seriously exciting stuff. Especially to a teenager. I was challenged to step up to office-level professionalism and understand the concept of compartmentalizing a relationship with one person into different roles. When you’re playing the employee role, you act this way. When you’re playing the youth group teenager, you act that way.

His relationship to me up until that point, in my view, had been Director of Silliness all through middle school with some religious counseling here and there. I remember one day in particular during the first week or two on the job when I wasn’t able to resist shooting a rubber band at him. I had perfect firing aim from my reception desk to his office across the hall. And I’ll never forget the stern look he shot me that I had never received before from him and the flushed embarrassment I felt for weeks afterward.

I’m almost 40 now and have all these years of professional work experience behind me with wisdom gained from a myriad of trial and error mistakes and the gray hairs, crows feet and ongoing teeth-grinding issue to prove it.

This past week — my first week back in an office environment in 8 years — I felt like a teenager all over again. Not because my Stay at Home Mom chapter  left me challenged to act like an adult again. The energetic vibrational difference between the kind of stress you experience at home with small children and the kind you feel in corporate America is definitely different.

But I have actually felt a surge in my “adult-ness,” working in an office without hearing my children.  And I’ve had no trouble compartmentalizing my relationship with Rip as we transition from long-time friends to him giving me a list of things to take care of every day.

The teen regression feelings were three-fold. First, it was like the old feeling of yearning, practicing, working to get off the bench and play on the varsity team and then the coach suddenly says, “OK, you’re in!” You walk out on the court with the girls that have been playing all season and are wondering if you’re going to screw up the play. It’s a solidly dig deep moment in life.

Whole Foods feels like a working world varsity team to me. You get a job there and people say, “Oh My God! How did you get in??”  or “I’m so jealous! Lucky You!”

I express gratitude every day.  And thankfully I’m in a relatively low-pressure (depending on how you define pressure) position with the opportunity to fully dig into the Engine2 message and make it my own — but the initial awkwardness of walking onto the court is there regardless.

Second teen regression. Day one on the job immediately transported me inside a recurring nightmare I’ve had since I was in high school.  The metaphor is achingly obvious — but basically I’m lost in the school and can’t find my locker and when I finally do I can’t remember the combination and then when I get my books I can’t remember what my next class is and where I’m supposed to be.

I’ve still got that feeling at Whole Foods Global HQ after being there for six days now. The first two days were ridiculous. I went up and down the elevator God knows how many times — at least a half a dozen times purely on accident. You’ve got to use your coded name badge to access the office floors and if you’re not conditioned to have your badge out, ready to scan across the the badge button within 5-10 seconds of getting in the elevator — the elevator typically goes the opposite direction you intended.  And you go for a solid waste-your-time ride until you can get back into the game.

In addition to the random unplanned rides, I’ve been to visit the IT department six or more times with one technical challenge or another. Password. Network cord. Intranet Access. Phone. Dialing Out. Accessing Voicemail.  You name it. I try to come up with some line that I pray is charming every time I go back in and with the exception of the lead guy, most of them respond to my cheerful, “just been missing hanging out with you guys so much” with a blank look on their face.

The IT group is located on the “plaza level” or the first floor above the grocery store.  My “work station” is on the sixth floor.  So up and down and up and down I went.

This kind of thing would definitely tire me before having children — but after having my girls, wasting time feels maddening to me.  I really feel like if I am going to sacrifice time away from them and go through the heart-wrenching extended separation that I know is hard for them because I experience their increased angst and neediness when we reunite —  I need to either be accomplishing something or practicing some kind of critical self-care.

Third chapter of the teenage regression.  I gleefully followed the recommendation of Adam, another friend on the Engine2 team who suggested it was fully possible to transform a cubicle into a window office.

You simply deconstruct the cube panels and create a window for yourself.

My uber-handy husband came in over the weekend and made it possible and it ROCKS.  And, because apparently I can’t escape my teenage rubber-band shooting guilt and desire to avoid shame at all costs, I find myself fretting about “getting in trouble.”

Time will tell.

And something else totally random for your entertainment.  I came across this site called awkward family photos tonight.  Phenomenal.

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