My daughter helped me redefine 'having it all.' My decision to stop working surprised even me.
I'm about to say something that many people never get to say in their lifetimes: I love my job. Well, I did love my job. There was a time I couldn't imagine leaving.
I was a senior editor at a major national magazine, and work never felt like work to me. A case of the Mondays didn't exist. Why would it?
I was surrounded by fun, creative people, going to press events at bars and restaurants throughout Manhattan, swimming in swag, laughing all the time, and living my creative passion every day. Brainstorming story ideas, working with writers, editing copy, going to photo shoots: all of this clicked perfectly with my personality.
I loved the challenge, and the job was stable. I had hit the career jackpot.
Then my husband and I got pregnant.
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I didn't know off the bat that I wouldn't return to the office. But perhaps the signs were there. I remember packing up my stuff about a week before maternity leave; I literally boxed up everything. I left no trace of my existence in that office.
Maybe it was because I was embarrassed of all the crap I'd accumulated over the years. Maybe I wanted the temp to have a nice clean office to work in. Or maybe, just maybe, deep down I knew I would never be stepping foot in that office again once my baby daughter was born.
The decision to resign didn't come easily. In fact, it was agonizing.
Right off the bat, I'll admit the obvious: the fact that I even had this choice made me feel extremely fortunate. But I couldn't fully enjoy my maternity leave because the prospect of returning to work was hanging over my head. I didn't feel ready to go back. But more suprisingly, I didn't miss it. And this made me feel very, very guilty.
There's so much talk these days about "having it all" — raising a child while working full-time at a fulfilling job. But maybe the issue is not so black and white. I certainly wasn't sure what "having it all" meant for me.
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