Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm takin' what they're givin' cuz I'm workin' for a livin'

I obviously haven't been posting as much lately, and when I do, nothing of very good quality. My last post was probably a great indication as to why. The thought of bitching every day about work makes me half nuts, so I know none of you really want to read about it, either.

But at the end of the day my brain feels as if its made out of tofu...thick...dense...void of flavor and color.

I hesitate to write all of this, if for no other reason than my old boss reads my blog. He was the best boss I've ever had...fair, friendly, flexible. He "gets" it. If your employees are happy, you'll be happy, too, and they'll be more productive. Its the little perks that don't really cost much that will get you the most mileage.

I knew that I had a good thing at my last job. Knew it. And I hope those I worked with never thought I took it for granted. I could have stayed there for many more years, floating along, doing what was easy and comfortable and would let me go home early in the afternoons.

Above all I don't want my old boss, nice as he is, to read this and try and get me to come back. When you work somewhere for a long long time, you get this feeling of safety and security that is really hard to let go of. If ever I want to try my hand at writing for real, or go out on my own as I've talked about in my head for years, I don't know that I would ever do it had I stayed put. Now that I've let go of that place, well, I have so fewer connections to this one that it should be easier to walk away.

Besides, I wasn't being challenged. Sure, every so often we'd do a software upgrade that would make me want to tear out my hair in big huge clumps and rock back and forth while sitting under my desk, but that was so predictable as to be expected. Part of the routine.

When this job offer came my way (which, if you missed the post, quite literally dropped in my lap) the "pros" of taking this new job seemed to outweigh the minuses. I took a chance at the opportunity to be the man in charge. And after nearly a month on the job here, I've gotten exactly what I expected. Lots of challenges, lots of decisions to be made, lots of WORK.

If you ask anyone here they'll say I'm handling it like a champ. And I am. I certainly have the experience to know what I'm doing. I've been through this all before, under the guidance of that great ex-boss. In just less than four short weeks, I've taken this new place from udder chaos (in terms of the software I support, anyway) to relative calm. People trust me. There is no doubt that when I say we can do XYZ that we will be able to do XYZ and do it exactly the way I've said we can do it.

But again, I'm working until 5 pm for the first time in years. When you factor in even a short drive home from downtown at that hour, then dinner isn't had until almost 7 most nights. Which means, when you have little kids, that dessert is followed by PJs and a bedtime story and not much else.

And there's the tofu brain to contend with. I'm just out of it. I used to be able to unwind at the end of my day during the ride home in the car. Now I get home and read the mail and watch the news and load the dishwasher...all while my kids jump and prance around me begging for my attention. They miss me. And not just for the nine plus hours I'm gone every day, but for that time when I'm just not present.

And that kills me.

I've always been a firm believer that when the work day is over, you should walk away and leave it all behind. I do not have a Blackberry. I won't take a job that isn't paid hourly. If you are a co-worker who is my friend, you may call my cell phone. But you sure as hell better not bother me while I'm on vacation and ask me about some file somewhere, or I'll probably hang up on your ass.

So what the hell was I thinking, really? Didn't I start out this year with intentions to work even less than I had been? Why, then, am I working even MORE?!? Obviously I thought that the extra money would be nice, to pay down some bills or to stash a bit away before making that big decision to quit a 9-5 completely.

When it comes right down to it, there's still a part of me that is like that lonely middle school girl I once was -- one that feels the need to prove herself to others. Yes, I am smart enough. Yes, I can do it. Yes, I am capable. The thing I struggle with on a daily basis is the letting go of that ridiculous need. Getting rid of that feeling that I'm not doing enough to show my true worth.

I am my own toughest critic, I know.

So...plans are in the works, I'll just say that. I'm here to do what they are paying me to do and that's all. I will be here, I will do it well. I will fix this project and make it even better than they thought it could be.

But that's it.

Cuz I still have tiny people asking me to cuddle with them in the mornings. And no amount of money can replace that.


WeaselMomma said...

Hang on. You will find your groove, rock it and have yours dreams.

Anonymous said...

Oh Colleen, I can feel your distress. I really can. You have such a good head on your shoulders, though, that I'm absolutely certain that this stepping stone of a job will be just that: a stepping stone. A resume padder. Another rung on the 'ol ladder. And your true dreams will be realized in the near future. You will know when you have had enough.

Hang in there.

Sarah said...

Can I use your tofu brain quote? I think I have the same thing. I'll link it back to you, but don't want to use it without your permission!

On a more positive note, I, too, am working a job that is JUST a job. I doubt it'll ever be my career, but I know I have to do it to get through this stage in my life. One day at a time, right? I'm walking with you.

Kate @ Life As I Live It said...

Hang in there Colleen! Hopefully these longer hours are temporary.

Kim said...

"one that feels the need to prove herself to others. Yes, I am smart enough. Yes, I can do it. Yes, I am capable. The thing I struggle with on a daily basis is the letting go of that ridiculous need. Getting rid of that feeling that I'm not doing enough to show my true worth."

I normally don't do the whole cut and past part of the post bit.. but that statement right there is where I struggle as well.. I am always trying to prove something to someone.. even if it is to myself.. and sometimes I should just back off and take in all the moments I miss by trying to tackle the challenges I put myself in..

I do hope some sort of peace finds its way to you..and if you find it.. package it up and send it my way so I can find that balance too..

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

Colleen, I'm so sorry that you're stressed out. I know you had such high hopes for this change. And it still could get better! It hasn't been that long...although from the sounds of it, it's been long enough.

I work full time. And I don't like it. Not because I'm anti-work. I am just bored out of my mind and desperate to find a job where I can use my skills and experience (and, ahem, get paid an equitable wage for it!). A job that I enjoy. A job that makes leaving my sweet girl every morning WORTH IT.

Hang in there. I'll pray for you and your family and this whole situation, and I believe that somehow you will figure out a solution. Because you ARE smart enough! And you CAN do this! :)

Anonymous said...

Ex-boss here...

Hang in there. You have all the tools and skills to take you to the next level. In a few months when you get pass the "fixing" stage you'll start to focus on improving and developing. That's when you'll really start to enjoy it as the completed system will have your stamp on it. Folks may laugh when I say this, but it's almost like a piece of art.

BTW, you position hasn't been filled yet so it's not too late... ;-)

Denise said...

I read this yesterday and couldn't even respond. I'm in the process of interviewing for jobs and, although our family really needs the money, I'm torn because our family also really needs a mommy at home. As excited as I am about job prospects and getting interviews, I'm scared to death of the reality of being a two-parent-working-family in the very near future. For exactly the reasons you describe.
You'll get through this. You'll find your groove. It will become do-able, and you will rock at it once again. All things new take some time, and you guys are dealing with two new jobs, moving, and two growing boys. Lots of new. Lots of change. But lots of opportunities to build your lives into what you're hoping for. Hang in there!

Zoeyjane said...

Just remember why you did take the position. It was to prove to yourself, if anyone that you could do it and well. You'll get there...just keep thinking of YOU, hun.

Huckdoll said...

Hey you,

You know, we are totally on the same page here. As I read this, I felt I almost wrote it myself.

It is SO hard. The 9 hour days, the kiddos in daycare, the rush, the go, the 2 hours every night to accomplish EVERYTHING - trying to keep up with the house, the hubs, the blogging, etc.

It all got so hard. Yet, I am a career going for gold. I want things in the business world, I love work. Love being part of something bigger, using my mind - doing what I was trained and educated to do before I had kids.

It's been a journey. Full-time, SAHM, weekends only, full time again...

And I finally made a decision - the best decision I could have made as a mother/career girl. Part-time. I work full on days M, W, F and my girls go to daycare. My first full week was last week and to be honest, I've never been happier since my girls were born.

Sure, I bring work home and bill some hours when I should be 100% here, but it's a perfect mix of career and family that's taken my almost 4 years to achieve.

That heartache at only spending only small fractions of days with your kids and at home is something I can totally resonate with. Same with your mad passion for what you do.

You'll find your balance and harmony eventually if you let your heart guide you. I promise you, if you do that, all will work out in the end.