I’m going back to work on Monday, which means I am lowering my expectations.
Not for how I’ll do my new job. I plan to be pretty awesome at that. But I’m lowering my expectations for how I’ll do everything else. Because despite the stress, uncertainty, financial pinch and general yuck of the past two months, unemployment has one big thing going for itself.
We kept our son in day care while I was laid off — that is a whole nother post in itself — so I could focus 100 percent of my time on finding a job and picking up freelance work. Although I don’t know how much longer we could have sustained that arrangement, it worked well for the interim. Many days I kept roughly to an eight-hour workday schedule, checking e-mails first thing, returning phone calls, conducting interviews and writing my articles or filling out job applications. My resume alone was in sad shape and I spent nearly a week polishing it and digging up clips so I could prove to other people how amazing I was. I also had the freedom, thanks to day care, to run off to a morning interview (met Jack Hanna!), network over coffee, attend a re-employment workshop and finally meet with my future employers.
Once I found my groove, I did a lot of fun things, too, that I will chalk up to supporting my mental health.
I successfully trained for my first half marathon. I finished “Pillars of the Earth” (awesome) and “Cleopatra” (would never have if I had been working). I met friends for lunch and found a new favorite coffee shop. I started this here blog. I returned to yoga, thanks to a surprise free class I didn’t know I had.
And I did a lot of things that get shoved to the side when you work full time and have a kid. Like going to all those doctors’ appointments I had been postponing. Or finally getting the big work done on my car so it stopped leaking oil and ruining the environment. Or meeting the pest control guys for multiple visits (ugh). Or generally staying on top of the dust, dirt, laundry, dishes and more.
But I’m returning to an office where I will have a commute and set hours. I’m so grateful and excited about the potential there and then I look around my house and wonder how all the other stuff is going to get done.
The fact is, if I want to stay sane, it’s not going to get done. And I’m going to have to be OK with that. Dinners might get slapped together a little more roughly, the house might get dustier as I vacuum less, the books I read might be shorter. I am trying to keep my running up, but that’s going to require an adjustment, too, and I’m not sure yet how I will fit it all in.
Imperfection is not a bad thing, especially if it means you are happier as a result. What’s the point of a sparkling house if I am too fried to enjoy it?
I started my final Friday as a non-working woman with a mental list of everything I was going to do today, things I had to finish before my job started. I knew when I told myself I could just “swing by IKEA” (does anyone get out of there under 2 hours?) that I was being ridiculous. Which is why I am here. On my laptop. With my feet up. Enjoying some downtime — for just a little longer.