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Everything's gonna (not) be all right (Chrysalis)

December 21, 2005 | Category: In My Life

I'm driving down the road after morning drop-off at Happy Montessori. I just started helping out one morning a week with carpool.

I share my new Wedensday duties with 2 moms. One is tall and glamourous and sweet. The other is from Europe, and talks about the relief work she used to do in places like Chad. I was the roundy nodding lady in between.

And then, I was driving home. To work. I was going to get the car washed, but I forgot to make the turn to the bank, and besides - I think I've spent my budget for the week anyway. I was going to stop at Walgreens and pick up the enlargements I had made for Christmas gifts, but I forgot my receipts with the claim numbers on them back home.

My new morning partners were talking about the gifts they had gotten for their kids' teachers. $60 Border gift certificates. I forgot to give Bear's teachers their gift - $20, to be shared between them. I feel terrible inside. I think I should have at least made it into a gift certificate or something. Cash seems so crude now.

Bear was very eager this morning to make sure that today was an "Elia Day" - that we would be picking her up on our way home in the afternoon. He likes being with Elia - she indulges him, and cuddles him, and tells him he's wonderful. He often grabs a cape when she's around, announcing that he's "Super Bear!" because that's how she make him feel - he jumps on the bed pretending to fly, he runs with his arms outspread - shouting to imaginary people below that they needn't worry, he's got the bad guys on the run.

I was driving home, and listening to music, the sun bright in my eyes as I turned.

I feel jumbled up inside. I think about how much Mega takes care of - our house and work phones are directly paid by them. So is our DSL and my cell phone. We'll lose the stock options, the 401K plan, the dental coverage. The good laptop is theirs.

And CD, his current salary won't take care of us.

I think about not being a Senior Manager at Mega any more. About how I am a small cog, but at least I have a place. About how my place will be gone.

Bear is 5 now, and likes me in the doses he gets me as a working mom. I tell him I am going to be home with him, and I get the quizzical look from him that says "Uh, and how is that different from now?"

I don't kow how this is going to work. I never did relief work in Africa. I have never made a craft with popsicle sticks. My cooking is good, sometimes, but my meal planning is poor. I struggle and most weeks fail to keep exactly to my budget. I say things like "Deliverable" and "Total Cost of Ownership" and "Risk Contingency" as though that is how normal people talk.

My marriage is shaky. The trust is slowly being rebuilt, but we fall backward all the time.

What the hell am I doing?


We are going to lose the house. What am I going to do with my days? How will I survive without Elia? What if my marriage falls apart? I can't even remember the receipts for the ^&#%^$* enlargements!!!!!

This is a disaster.

I don't know what to do.

I'm scared.

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Tagged: Corporate, Mommy, Life


My last day of job from hell is Friday. My almost 6 months old and my eight year old will be my world. My husband will work and I will be Mommy. I have worked full time since I was 13. I have supported my children, my ex-husband, and myself. I have NEVER depended on ANYBODY to take care of me or mine. I feel your terror. I shake at night wondering how it will be done. But something my Mom said put it in place for me...She said "You have always been able to do what needed to be done. What makes you think that will change?" And she's right. When it needed doing I did it. I remember being scared after my first was born, I remember being scared when I found out I was pregnant again, I remember being scared when I graduated high school and when I started at Emory. But it turned out just fine, and you will too. Trust yourself, you made it this far.

Posted by: Cindy on December 27, 2005 03:35 PM

I have learned to take the skiing approach to life. If you try to look out into the future, you'll scare yourself- It's way too steep. If you look right in front of you, it seems totally manageable. You ski without falling.

Take it one day at a time. That's all you can do. Things tend to work themselves out. Money comes from unexpected sources.

Merry Christmas, Elizabeth! :)

Posted by: Lucinda on December 26, 2005 12:47 PM

Funny, but I'm feeling your panic. In a manner of speaking.

You know, just because the birth of a baby is a HAPPY thing doesn't necessarily make it any less scary and stressful.

Change is good.

And even if it's not-so-much, it's the way of the world.

I send you love and hugs and if I had time to read them, I'm quite sure I'd echo every one of your previous commenters. You have the best commenters. ;o)


Posted by: Margi on December 22, 2005 03:18 PM

Actually, it was you who paid the bills not Mega. And every day that you worked there, you collected dividends of knowledge that you are taking with you. For me, hunkering down and holding onto what I thought was my dream job (while I was being destroyed by staying there for so long) ate me alive through poor health, stress, worry, unhappiness and emotional overload. When I was in crisis, a very good friend grabbed a book and picked 3 pages out of the middle. "Look. This is your crisis right now. It's a fraction of your entire life and you have all of this (flipping the following pages) in front of you." Her point was to keep the situation in perspective: This is a single point of time in your entire life travels. You are highly skilled, so don't lose sight of that and don't give the credit to Mega. Let go of the beast that is destroying you and embrace the newness to come. It could be spectacular.

Posted by: Jill on December 22, 2005 07:59 AM

You are a strong, intelligent and passionate woman. You feel things intensely, and often see them in black/white terms. This makes for fascinating reading for those of us who read and enjoy your blog, but sometimes is probably not so easy to be the one actually living it.
You have focused on all of the many bad things at Mega (NOT without good reason) until the situation became untenable for you. Now that the departure is imminent, you are seeing it more clearly for the mixed bag that it was - many stressors and difficulties, but some securities provided as well, and you are realizing the cost of leaving (and the risks you now face) in addition to the benefits and freedom you'll now enjoy. I don't think you made the wrong decision - I think you will have many wonderful adventures up ahead. But I really encourage you to try to think less in extreme terms. The more you can stay somewhere between euphoria and despondency, the healthier and better off you & your family will be.
One thing I have thought of many times, but you have never addressed is this: Bear is in school now. Even if you are the ultimate SAHM, baking cookies, doing science experiments, being a domestic goddess, etc. etc. (and I'm not mocking - I did all those very things myself when my two were home - in fact I kept them home an extra year or two and taught them to read and the basics of early education myself) - even if you do all those things, and devote yourself to them,..the fact is that more and more of Bear's life is moving AWAY from you - into school, friends, activities (karate), etc. This is the natural progression. In fact I have often wondered if motherhood isn't a long string of tiny goodbyes all lined up in a row, from the moment they take your child out of your body where s/he has lived for 9 months. But anyway, this is the bittersweet and natural progression of 'growing up'. And so, this leaves the mom (even the SAHM extraordinaire) with free time and energy to devote to other things. You have always done the black/white thing, either crazy crushing 110% work commitment to the breaking point at Mega, or your dream of SAHM without anything else going on. It is quite possible (even probable) that you will be able to find some sort of part-time arrangement related to your skill set and your field. Now don't panic - you don't have to rush into anything or take anything that doesn't seem right to you, but MANY companies would LOVE someone of your strengths, skills and experience but could not afford (or their situation doesn't warrant) having you full time. IF you consult, or take on project management on a contractual or limited part time basis, you may be able to supplement the household income and thereby take some of the pressure off CD having to work 2 jobs (which I applaud his willingness to do, but you WILL NOT like it if he is never home - trust me on this one !!!) and ease some of the financial worries in your household overall.
What I think you need to be cautious of here is that you don't trade one set of anxieties and stressors (i.e.Mega) for another equally real set (CD never being there, being overworked and exhausted when he IS there, financial burdens, you being home all the time without the challenges and stimulation that you have become used to)
In summary (and I'm sorry this is so long), I think you are having totally normal butterflies about the transition. It would not be rational of you not to. The unknown lies ahead. I encourage you to embrace it, experience it for a little while, keep your options open, and then, if/when you feel ready, network a little bit, put some feelers out there, see what opportunities exist, and perhaps consider a lifestyle that isn't the coal-black of Mega or the blindingly pure white of the SAHM, but maybe something with a swirled or marbled pattern containing the best parts of both. Be creative, see it as your own special project. If anyone can do it, YOU CAN.
Congratulations on this wonderful new beginning,and GOOD LUCK!

Posted by: Amy on December 22, 2005 06:56 AM

I don't think your exit from Mega would have happened as it did were it not meant to be.

It's normal to be scared. I'm just as terrified about my conscious decision to stay *in* this rat race. There are no magic answers, but you will be fine. You have your family and your health - you are already blessed!

Posted by: Monica C. on December 21, 2005 06:08 PM

Ok. First, breathe.

What Bear needs is you and CD. What CD needs is you and Bear. What you need is CD and Bear.

The rest is just stuff.If you all end up living somewhere else...the house is just a house. The stuff is just stuff. About 8 years ago, my husband and I were both working for a local bookstore, which went bankrupt. We had been living paycheck to paycheck and we very nearly ended up living with my parents. We sold off almost everything.

We got through it. We're ok. I spend a lot of time at www.DaveRamsey.com for budgeting advice. I've got his books, too. Things are still so tight...but we're making it and it's gotten so much better.

We're all stumbling along in this enterprise of life. What's important and irreplaceable are the relationships with family and friends.

Don't think about the negatives...concentrate on the positives. Change is scary but not bad. It will be ok. It will. It really, really will.


Posted by: paige on December 21, 2005 03:53 PM

Mega was destroying you.

Look, a change in lifestyle is stressful. But I am here to tell you that even if you have to sell your house and get something smaller-or heaven forbid, rent ;-), even if you don't know what you are going to do when you get home, life is going to be better for you. If you decide you want/need to work, there are other jobs. If you need time to chill, you will chill.

One step at a time. You could NOT continue as you were.

Read that again. And again if you need to.

Your family needs you. YOU need you. Mega? That you don't need.

Meanwhile, you have a whole internet full of people cheering you on. Cool, huh?

Posted by: bunny on December 21, 2005 02:36 PM

Don't forget their are angels among us....

Things have a way of turning out.

Posted by: Genuine on December 21, 2005 12:56 PM

I can really feel your fear. Know this: YOU WILL BE FINE. The domestic traits develop over time. I actually had to buy a cookbook that gives a menu and shopping list for each week. I'm still working on the craft area. I was an accountant so of course I have the creativity of a rock. I don't do so well in the Mommy social group either. They think I'm boring and I think they're boring, but I'm trying. My best financial advice: Worrying every minute of every day doesn't put any cash in your accounts. Pick one day a week to sit down and pay bills and plan. I do it first thing Monday morning, then try not to think about it again until next week. It's a hard adjustment for many months, but before you know it you'll realize life isn't so bad after all. When it becomes too much to handle, just smile and enjoy that beautiful Bear. Trust me, it works.

Posted by: MJH on December 21, 2005 12:03 PM

Janeye is right, life is what you make it. One step at a time, one thing at a time, one day at a time. Trust your heart and your husband's, and move forward based on that.

It's ok to be scared. Goodness knows we've all been scared. The trick is knowing what you should be scared about and what you shouldn't.

In the meantime, that hot bath and glass of wine sounds like a good idea.


Posted by: caltechgirl on December 21, 2005 11:53 AM

Focus on your strength, your innate ability to get things done. You will take that to this new place you are going. You will find ways that work for you. Of course your relationships will change now that you aren't devoting so much time, energy and emotion to your job. There will be a time of working all of that out.

I don't think it's wise to think of ways your marriage could fail or that Bear might get tired of seeing you more. Your thoughts to some extent will become your reality. Consciously choose to think about the good things here. You have wanted to be out of Mega for a LONG time. You are now. Thank God!

You have missed that little man of yours with everything you are so many times when you had to be at Mega. Now, you will get more time with him. Thank God. Being torn between Mega and Bear had to leave little for CD, just by virtue of what you were being asked to do. How can having more to give him be worse for your marriage. I just don't see that it can.

Leaving Mega may be a lot of things to you, but at the end of the day, I think it's going to be good for you, Bear and CD, bills be damned.

[p.s. Feel free to replace the Thank Gods with Thank goodness! ;-]

Posted by: Polichick on December 21, 2005 11:52 AM

Cash is *always* welcome. :-)

I recommend a very hot bath, with the door locked, with a big glass of wine next to you.

Posted by: Nancy Toby on December 21, 2005 11:12 AM

"What the hell am I doing"....living life to the best of your ability. When my husband and I married 6 years ago, he was the CEO and founder of his own company, we were going to create the perfect blended family of children, we had a showpiece house...today...nothing. His company was bankrupt due to a hostile stock takeover and we were sued for millions which we now owe. His children left to go back to trailer trash mom...none have graduated high school and the youngest is a 17 year old unwed mother. My son is becoming "the" name at the school my father and I taught in (and had stellar reputations when we left) and spends more time in out of school suspensions that in school. The business we started in town to make it a better place for families and create something fun for the area has gone bankrupt and we are pariahs in the community I grew up in...constantly being harrassed in stores, the street....even church. All of our accounts are totally gone, retirement, college, savings...and we have even had to go to our parents to get money for food. Shut off notices and forclosures outnumber the Christmas cards in our mailbox...so this is MY Christmas holiday.

Am I scared...yes, am I tired mentally, spiritually and physically....yes. But each morning I wake up and say thank you for the things I do have, my family, my loving friends, and ask to achieve some small victory during the day. Even if that victory is stalling a payment for a few more weeks or receiving a compliment on my performances (I am a singer in a costumed madrigal group that performs during the holiday) or even saving 4 cents on a loaf of bread....I am happy that I have survived. I have learned how to be strong in my outward appearance no matter how crushed I am inside. I have learned to celebrate the tiniest things in order to give my self the hope to continue.

To you I give my blessings and this advice....you are capable of creating your own aura and ambiance (for lack of better terms)...so fill it with happiness and you will be able to get through anything!

Posted by: Janeye on December 21, 2005 10:53 AM

Deep breath in...Deep breath out....


Posted by: suzanne on December 21, 2005 10:05 AM