One year ago, I took a bit of a leap of faith. Not a huge one, people change jobs all the time after all, but it can be a scary change none the less. I left a place where I started my career in higher education fresh out of college, a place that taught me so much as a professional and that truly felt like home for the 8 years I spent there. Although about 6.5 years in, I started to feel a bit restless and in need of a change. I ignored those feelings for quite some time because of my love for the institution I worked for and because of the staff I was blessed to work with. I had opportunities for growth coming my way, I had a solid salary, great benefits, a good relationship with my boss, close proximity to home…I would be crazy to leave that, right?
Fast forward to December 2015 when I had my first child and like most children do…she changed everything. When I went back to work after 3 months of maternity leave, I struggled HARD. I struggled to be the employee I wanted to be and that my school deserved/needed… and being the Mom I wanted to be and that my daughter deserved/needed. So on top of the restless feelings I had been having for some time professionally, there was now mom guilt, total exhaustion, and the constant in-ability to balance the two worlds of work and parenthood successfully. There were lots of tears and breakdowns, let me tell you.
I was very open about this struggle with my boss and he immediately assured me that I was still very much valued and he also offered me flexibility in my hours, which I was so incredibly thankful for. However, it just brought more guilt. I didn’t want to take advantage of our office or of other employees as I worked through this new transition as a working mom. I didn’t feel that it was right or fair to my colleagues who also perhaps were having the same balancing struggles as I was. What I DID feel was right was a change, it was time. I knew there had to be an alternative to allow me to continue my career in higher education/college admission, but have a better balance at home. So I began my search.
I was lucky enough to have a few offers in this process and landed my current role as the Assistant Director of Admission for University of Colorado Boulder. A role in which I am still in the same field, but work fully from home.
As I look back on this past year and reflect, I am so thankful I made this decision. It was so terrifying at first and I was certainly met with some challenges and uncertainty in the process, but it has given me exactly what I need at this time in my life. A new challenge professionally and more of a presence at home. Don’t be fooled, I still work just as many hours as I did in my office job, sometimes even more, but there are little things that make it more manageable. I can throw a load of laundry in anytime through the day, walk up from my home office in the basement and steal some kisses/snuggles or eat lunch with my daughter and I don’t have to account for commute time in my day very often. For the majority of the year, I do not have to rush out of the house to get ready and coordinate drop offs or pick ups, which allow for relaxed mornings with my girl. It is still very much a juggling act to be a working mom, especially during the recruiting seasons of fall and spring, but overall I feel much more balanced. Overall, I feel I am able to be both a productive and valuable employee and a present Mom. This to me, is clutch.
There have most certainly been challenges with this new role, most of which I expected. For one, working from home can be really lonely and isolating, which has been hard mentally/emotionally as I am by nature a social person. So I do need to be better about getting out a little more. Also, the boundary of work-life is kind of non-existent now that I work from home because I am able to constantly jump back and forth easily to each one. Once Rocklyn is down for bed at night or if I am up extra early, I still tend to check in to emails and work on some things. To be honest though, that in particular doesn’t really bother me because I actually like being able to have the flexibility to do that, but it DOES make it hard to “shut it off” and enjoy “home” fully at times.
The busy season of admission, is not just busy…it is total insanity. So, that has not changed. It makes it even harder that these are the same times of year my husband is very busy and traveling. As we approach having baby #2 soon, it will be interesting to see how that juggle continues during those particular seasons. But for now, looking back, I have no regrets. Again, not only does it give me the balance I needed but it also has given me strength and courage to know I have control over how I want my life to look like and I do NOT have to settle. I think we often forget that we have the authority to change our situation when it does not work for us. I am not saying that changing is easy, it is usually not, but it is always possible. I hope if you are in a situation or work environment that does not suit you or fulfill you, you take the reigns and change it. We only get one life, one chance to be with family, to raise our kids, to make our time count. Do what works for YOU and forget about anybody else.
Stay blessed in the MESS!