Change of pace

Taking a sabbatical from my engineering job was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I have been working as an engineer and/or going to school since I was 5 years old. I worked every summer starting in high school - working is what I do.

Last September I decided that I wanted more time with my family, and I told my boss I wanted to take the summer off. In March, my business partner Mandy (the M in MKelevate) suggested that I set a date for my sabbatical.  She thought that might help make it real and allow me to take the step I needed to remove myself from the company at which I had worked for over 11.5 years. I set May 23rd as my last day. It was the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend just before our twins 8th birthday. The closer the date came to my summer off, the more I felt like maybe just summer wasn’t going to be enough time for me for me to decompress and figure out what the next chapter in my life is going to hold.

Prior to this decision, the only time I didn’t work was in 2011. My husband Chuck and I had twins in 2011, I took three months off and then went back to work.  We had one of the best nannies and mother-in-law to help raise the boys while we both worked, which helped immensely, but still didn’t replace the mom guilt. I am enjoying being able to bond with our boys more often, and not just at feeding times and on the weekends. Playing an active role in their growth and development is going to be challenging, but I am looking forward to it!

Some of my best friends and family set up a surprise dinner for me on my last day - I was overwhelmed and realized that it hadn’t fully sunk in that I was making a major life change. Friends and family got together to celebrate the boys’ birthday, but I felt foggy and I was in a funk. The sabbatical was something I had planned on doing since September and I was looking forward to it, but why did I feel like this? Now looking back, I think I had just gotten off the longest merry-go-round ride of my life and I was dizzy, so dizzy.

On Tuesday everyone went back to work and school, but I stayed home. I made sure to wake up early and workout, just like I did when I worked. Then I put the kids on the bus, kissed Chuck as he left to work and Mia (the dog) and I looked around the house and started to take inventory. Our house needed some cleaning. I made a list and took care of lots of little things that had been broken but we hadn’t had the time to fix. The first week was amazing. I cleaned, fixed things, made dinners and lunches, just started to ground myself.

When I worked full time, I hated to be home because when I was home it reminded me of all the things I needed to do. I would leave the house, and I could have fun and feel the weight of the chores lift. I wish I had some glasses that filtered out the mess I see when I look at my house.  The chore list is always in my head, laundry, dishes, floors and more; Perfection is not attainable, but somehow, I still seem to shoot for it.

I have been off work for almost 6 weeks now and the kids started summer break three weeks ago. It was wonderful to have the first 3 weeks of my sabbatical alone, so I could figure out my new routine before the boys added their ideas to what I should be doing. Prior to my sabbatical I would sit down for maybe one minute to color or hang with the kids, trying to be the mom my boys wanted, but there were so many chores calling my name. I now find myself taking the time to color with my boys and not having that voice in the back of my head gnaw at me to get up. 

As an engineer/working mom I didn’t feel like I could give them the undivided time they deserved at home. I was not a bad mom, I did my best, but I feel better about the version of myself I am giving my kids now. Most working moms have the mom guilt, the work guilt, the 24/7 guilt that no one is getting their best self. You get what I can give you now, it is all that I can give, and it is pretty good, but not my best. Now knowing how good it feels to give more and more often is such a gift. I have realized that for us at this point in our life that time is way more precious than money. I know making time for yourself is hard, but so worth it; taking time for yourself will only make you better for your loved ones!