Recently, I returned to work from a year’s maternity leave. This time I took the whole year to spend time with my little children, to enjoy them while they’re young. When I left my job last February, there were about 9 people working in the office. Upon my return, our office staff in Toronto had grown to about 30 people or so. The positions and offices are mostly filled with people handpicked by my boss, which made the notion of returning to work intimidating. The folks he selected are star players! These people are the stand outs in the crowds with which he has shared his working life. And here I was, some lady he’d been stuck with, re-emerging on the scene. And this lady questioned her relevance and her capacity to live up to the tasks and mandate set before her.
That first week, we’d been to the doctor and/or hospital multiple times, where Alice was eventually diagnosed with a particularly disgusting and nasty bout of impetigo on both hands, after having some weird mouth virus and four days of fever. Impetigo is gross and it looks really really painful. It’s super contagious to other children and basically you have to keep it covered so it doesn’t spread. Have you ever tried to bandage a baby’s hands? I learned from this ordeal that babies think band-aids are some tasty shit. Our solution? Socks on the hands. And we got some antibiotics, which are an adventure all themselves when trying to administer them orally to a 11 month old.
At around the same time, I became painfully aware of how sharp Alice’s little teeth had become via an awfully wounded nipple, that still hasn’t quite healed after nearly two months. I’m convinced it will never ever heal, but there is a little glimmer of hope inside me that thinks that maybe one day in the near future, I might be able to nurse her on the left side without recoiling in pain. Maybe.
So my first week back was a literal hell, between the boobie wound, impetigo, and some shaky days with my husband’s job security (though luckily our concerns were quickly elayed). The stress of a new childcare arrangement, the TTC commute, and all the on the job learning required to get back up to speed were so much that I was literally collapsing in tears at the end of every day. I’m stressed just writing about it!
If you’d really like to keep track, you could add in a dash of serious sleep deprivation for the last 6 months and a healthy dose of mummy guilt. You know, the kind of guilt the eats away at you for not “being there’ for your family who needs you so desperately. I’d failed at meal planning, and doing the grocery shopping to stock our fridge and pantry with the things we’d need to keep us going. I was behind on laundry, and every room in our apartment had seen much better days. With all the things I had failed to do, I had no time to make up for it. No time to run the errands, do the preparations necessary to make this transition slightly smoother for all everyone in our little family.
But then the second week came, and then the third, and the fourth week. And now I feel as though I am rocking along at a fairly respectable and steady pace. And the pieces? They’re all falling into place. I’m learning a lot, I’m quickly getting back up to speed, and I remembered finally that I LOVE WORKING! I love my job and the people I work with are all really really awesome. More awesome than I ever could’ve anticipated. I’m starting to hit my stride and I just love everyone and everything that I’m doing. Then the end of the day rolls around, and though I have to fight my way on to a streetcar, I’m excited. I’m excited to come home to the perfect little faces that shine so bright with smiles when they hear mummy come up the stairs. I’m excited to kiss my handsome husband, who has already started dinner, folded laundry and worked a full day, and is waiting to greet me with a smile just as bright.
This new year, I set my motto as I always do. I knew it was going to be a challenging year with lots of ups and downs and that I would need to stretch to make it all work. That I’d need to put it all out there on the line to be successful in 2015. And so I remind myself regularly that this year, I’m going “All In”. How could I not, my friends……I’ve been dealt the royal flush.
I don’t really believe in astrology, but historically I’ve found myself to be more friendly with capricorns, aquarius’ and tauruses. Never really found myself close to an Aries, and as such I think of her as quite the an unlikely friend. Not only is she an Aries, but she’s also 9 years my junior and I met her only because I hired her way back in 2010. Unlikely a friendship as it may seem, she’s pretty much been by my side since then.
I remember what she wore for her interview–it was quite formal, a white blouse and a high waisted black skirt. I don’t think she was wearing heels though–she wasn’t able to really pull off heels until about 2012. I was looking for someone at the time to be part of the department I was building in my previous company, and between her, and one other girl, I knew I had found the right people to take on the job.
Both girls were cheery, with great personalities and teachable spirits. Their experience was limited, but I knew I had found a couple of gems, so I snatched them up, not a moment too soon. When I changed jobs in 2012, I had stumbled on a company primed for growth, and I felt like a mountain of work was just around the corner and I could never face it alone. So I called on Smash.
She had kept the ship a-sail for me while I was maternity leave the first time–she is smart, dependable, reliable, creative with a lot of really great, though sometimes zany, ideas. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, since she came to work with me again, more ups than downs though. We’ve had a lot of laughs and good times, but the work pace was much slower than what we were used to, and sometimes our frustrations with work and our desires to move more quickly drove distance between us.
There were times where I felt like she was judging me. There were times where I felt like she hated me. There were times I felt utterly, totally and weirdly responsible for any unhappiness she felt in life. And I can only begin to imagine what she felt about me–Picky, bossy, fussy, know it all Peattie. I am fairly certain she wanted to tear my head off at times, but fortunately we got through it….all body parts in tact. While it sounds crazy, it might do you some good to understand that we literally spend at least 40 hours a week together, face to face, less than three feet apart–and have for close to two straight years.
We were open with each other on almost every subject and we trusted each other in more ways that we had trusted other friends in our lives. And now as I start my maternity leave, I am trusting her again–with my job. Finally, after waiting patiently, things are starting to happen. She’s been promoted into the role she came on board to do–at a critical time in the company’s history. She’s taking on significant projects and has some key objectives she’ll have to deliver on this year. And it’s a lot. It’s a lot for anyone. But I know she can handle it. I am excited to see what this year brings for her because I know it’s going to be amazing. She’s surrounded by some really awesome people at the office, who I know she can count on to make things happen. She’s gonna do great!
On Friday night, after my last day of work, she helped me carry my things to my car and what we thought was going to be an emotional goodbye, didn’t really turn in that direction at all. I had cried earlier saying goodbye to even the most pesky co-workers, and there wasn’t a tear in my eyes saying farewell to my long time side kick, pal and protege. She made a joke about me missing her the least, but the reality is–I will miss her the least. Because I’m not going to miss her. Sure I’ll miss seeing her beautiful face every day, I’ll miss the sound of her laughter, and I will definitely miss the poor nutritional choices we made on a daily basis (guilt free). But I’m not going to miss her. She will continue to be a huge part of my life, filling up a special place in my heart while I’m at home with my babies–our relationship runs much deeper than 9-5, Monday to Friday. We don’t need to be three feet apart to maintain our friendship–it’s going to last for a long, long time…no matter our proximity.
I certainly got a lot more than I had ever bargained for the day I hired that brown-eyed ram, Smash. I thought I was simply getting a recent graduate for a product specialist. Instead, I got a life long friend. A lady who is truly awesome in every way.
I love you, chum.