Friday, March 13, 2009

Backing down the corporate ladder

I consider myself a fairly maternal person. I'm a hugger. I call people pet names like "sweetie" "hon" and "sugar dimple bottom" (okay, I've never used that last one, but doesn't it sound endearing?). I actually LIKE listening to people's problems and I very rarely roll my eyes at them, unless its after they've left the room. See? Maternal.

Yet, despite all of this, I didn't grow up wanting to be a "mommy." I always knew I wanted a family, but my passion, my drive was never to hurry up, get married, have kids and be a mom. To me, these things would happen in life, but weren't things I focused on. Instead, I focused my slightly (okay, more like extremely) competitive spirit on excelling at first school and then my career. I worked hard early on in my career, waking in the middle of the night to check my blackberry, obsess over one thing or another and had a hard time "turning off."

As I got older, I learned from some great colleagues the benefit of work/life balance. I found I could still climb that corporate ladder and be a leader without burning myself out. But my desire to succeed and be a top professional in my field never diminished.

Which is why it came as such a surprise to myself, and many of my colleagues, when I decided that I needed to resign and take an extended maternity leave of a year or two. I've gotten a lot of questions about my decision, mainly from people trying to understand why I chose to quit my job when so many women are able to work and have children -- able to "have it all." I never felt like I had an acceptable answer.

But I guess the answer is that I still feel like I'm going to have it all. Just not all at one time.

A woman at our church, a virtual stranger, said something to us last week that resonated with me more than any advice I've had throughout my pregnancy. She told me to enjoy the early time with our baby, that "The days are long, but the years are just too short."

She summed it up in such a succinct and beautiful way. While my friends and colleagues may not understand my choices, Ben and I decided that although the days will feel long, and I may not be fulfilled or happy every single one of them, the years are just so short. And in those few short years, I will have an experience with Baby E that I can never duplicate.

Then, after those few short years I can start clawing and scratching my way back up the corporate ladder. Because ultimately, that is where I want to be -- I want it all.


Nikki said...

I can relate. It is definitely worth the time off to spend it with your little one even though there are some days that are frustrating. I wouldn't trade it for the world. The working world is always going to be there and I'm sure you'll get right back in to it when you're ready.

Kristi H said...

Well said, Liz.

Melissa said...

I am happy you've made this decision (though sad that it takes you away from us). No one can tell you what is right and what is wrong, even if they've experienced motherhood, etc... those people aren't YOU. They didn't have your upbringing, they didn't have your struggles. YOU did. Good for you for doing what makes you happy and enjoy this time with Baby E! You may love it so much you won't want to come back to work, ever. And you know what? That's okay too! Screw those crazy people!

Miss you!

Leala said...

Hi Liz,

We ARE so happy for you and for the solid start that Baby E is going to have thanks to your forethought. We may have acted like we didn't understand, but it was more that we will miss you very much...and are a liiiitttle jealous that you are probably in your PJ's right now (wink). Who knows what makes one kid different than another, but I know that if we work-folk benefitted from your brightness and joie de vivre just by toiling alongside you, Baby E cannot possiblt have a better start to life.