I am big ball of fear this morning. I think it’s the “can I get everything done?” variety, but I could be wrong. What I know is that instead of being reactive and starting to clean the house, or pick a fight with David, or start ordering the kids around, I’m trying to just feel it . . . but this is not easy because it feels like it might swallow me up whole. more…
Category Archives: work life balance
Yesterday, David and I had our annual face-to-face meeting with our financial advisor. The meeting followed its normal format – we bring him up to date on our income and expenses and he talks to us about our investments, etc. Nonetheless, I have had a pit in my stomach ever since. more…
My legal work has been really busy during the last 2 – 3 weeks. Definitely busier than I’d like. I knew going into this that there would be a natural ebb and flow and that some weeks I would have more to do than is my preference. I am so aware of the possibility of creeping into a schedule that includes more hours than I planned. Now that I’m in the middle of it, it’s extremely tempting to start questioning the whole arrangement – Have I kept too many clients? What is the right number of hours? Should I start cancelling things to clear up more time to work? How long can I make people wait for things without frustrating or upsetting them? Are people going to get mad at me???
I have promised myself that for the next couple of weeks I will just concentrate on the next task at hand and not evaluate or analyze my part-time set-up. I have very little tolerance on my side for making people wait for things, so I really have NO idea how much elasticity there is on the part of those who are actually doing the waiting. A few weeks from now, I will evaluate to see if there have been notable complaints or consequences as a result of the pace at which I’m completing things. If not, then I know I just have to expand my own concept of acceptable turnaround time. If, on the other hand, there are concrete problems, then I will talk to my boss about dropping one of the clients. I really don’t want to do that, but I think I can and would be willing to have that conversation without getting too caught up in the fear of disappointing him.
I am in such a period of transition right now. The move from working 40-50 hours to working 10 – 15 hours has changed so much more than just how many hours I am at the office. It’s like I can feel the individual cells in my body dying off and being replaced with new growth. Mostly I guess it feels like the controlling cells are giving way to the “Let’s just move forward and see what happens” cells. It’s often frightening and uncomfortable because I feel like I’m headed into uncharted waters and part of me feels like I’m going to crash headlong into an iceberg at any moment (brief mental image of Leo DiCaprio sinking under the water). But then I wake up the next morning and I’m still here wondering if this supposed change is just in my imagination or if all of this adventure and love and possibility I sense is going to stick around.
I love this quote from the The Way of Action:
“. . .subtly, indescribably, the [wo]man is not as [s]he was before. All things are seen as new; they are as they were, but the seeing is different. And the difference lies in the fusion of the [wo]man and the awakening.”
I like the idea that the things around me haven’t actually changed, it is my viewpoint that has changed.
Having time in my day where I am not required to be at the office (or anywhere else) is great and is also causing me a tremendous amount of heartache. On the one hand, it can be delightful to sample from the buffet of options of how to spend my time. I can choose from exercising, socializing, working, reading, running errands, organizing – the list is endless. On the other hand, having choices in my day introduces new risk and new opportunities to lose. For any one thing I choose to do, I am painfully aware of the many options I have rejected (and I am questioning whether I made the right choice, as though there is one). In addition, I have friends inviting me to go places and do things and making choices means that I say “no” sometimes and risk their disappointment and even disapproval.
The schedule I maintained as a full-time lawyer and mother of 3 really protected me from having to make choices. I was always doing something that was required of me. I could easily say “no” to things or to people because my schedule wouldn’t allow (or at least that felt like a socially acceptable refusal whether or not it was literally true). Without that schedule to hide behind, I am faced with taking a stand for who I am and what I want – a position that is both thrilling and terrifying.
Today is my kids’ first day of school and my first day of being part-time. Well, technically I have done part-time before, but it feels different. The last two times I reduced my schedule it was upon the birth of my second child (down to 2o hours) and then my third child (down to 10 hours). I guess it is not surprising that this time the choice to go part-time (without a newborn) feels much more volitional (“and indulgent!” says my inner critic). I’m excited about the multiple dimensions my day is going to hold, but I have a lot of questions inside relating to purpose and whether I actually have any. It’s easy to say that my purpose is being with my kids, but they were ok while I was working full-time, so is that really a valid purpose? Yes. I know the answer is yes, but it’s not the complete answer.
Here’s what my day is going to look like (on the outside):
- Get the kids ready for school.
- Actually get them to school.
- Go to work for 4-5 hours.
- Pick the kids up from school!!!!!
- Be at home this afternoon (we’ll see how much work demands my attention and how I do at managing that and/or having people wait until Wednesday morning).
I’ll report back later today or tomorrow morning about what went on today (on the inside).
Update: My son had the mother of all meltdowns this morning about going back to school. He was inconsolable and kept saying how scared he was. David and I took turns holding him as he cried and eventually he calmed down, ate a very little bit of breakfast and then went to his first day of school without complaint. It all turned out well, but he is experiencing some seriously big feelings these days. We are really thinking about how we can help him feel calmer and more secure.
My own day has been pretty nice. I love that I spent 3 hours at the office and then turned off the clock and went to pick up the kids. It felt good to get home and not immediately have to jump on e-mail or a conference call.
I’m now heading out for an impromptu trip to get my daughter new sneakers since she discovered this morning that she had outgrown her old ones (I love this!)
- This is the last weekend of the summer. I wore my white blazer today for its last outing of 2011.
- This is the last of our lazy weekday mornings. Pretty soon it’s back to setting alarms and getting ourselves out the door on a schedule.
- This is my last day of being a full-time, salaried employee. My current plan (starting next week) is to come in to the office for a few hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays and do the rest of my work from home (or wherever I may be). It feels like a big deal. I mean, it IS a big deal. But I don’t think that I’m necessarily going to feel different when I walk out of the office today. I wonder how long it will take to sink in. Or if I will be stringing enough work moments, minutes and hours together throughout my weeks that it won’t feel so dramatically different. Who knows. I feel like there should be some sort of ritual or something to mark the importance of today, but I don’t know what that would look like. Maybe just a few moments of silence before I leave the office — no, too somber! I think I will just walk out today with a big smile on my face feeling grateful for everything this job has given me and grateful that I get to redefine my relationship with this job and my firm in a manner that is more consistent with where my life is going.
Happy holiday weekend!!