So, I returned to full-time work (out of the house) three weeks ago. I haven’t worked outside the home in almost FIVE years. I realized I never really talked about what I did before I became a mom and began blogging, so here is the full story.
I attended West Point for four years and then spent six amazing years in the Army. They were truly some of the most rewarding and exciting years of my life (I don’t know if there is any interest in what I did while I was in the military – please let me know if there is and I’ll talk about it in a separate post!).
After leaving the Army and returning home to NYC, I felt pulled in two directions. Part of me wanted to continue what I had been doing for the previous six years in the Army. I had all this intelligence experience and absolutely loved my last position (Lethal Targeting Officer for the Division). And so that was what I initially pursued. I applied for and was offered a job as a DEA analyst in NYC. But during the pre-employment process, a private company approached me and offered me an amazing job. They were based in DC but were willing to set up a small office for me in NYC so I didn’t have to relocate. The idea of a corporate job + making a lot of money won me over and beat out continuing to work in intel and the government sector.
But it wasn’t what I had envisioned myself doing and after a year, I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me. By this point I was around 6-7 months pregnant and so it made sense to take a step back and reevaluate what I really wanted to do post-Army. My husband and I were in a financial position that afforded me the opportunity to leave my job and spend some time at home with our first child before returning to work.
What was planned as a six or so month hiatus turned into twelve and then we found out I was expecting baby #2 just a week after our oldest turned one. At that point, it seemed easiest to just push back my return until after our youngest was born.
When our youngest was about six months old, I started looking for a full time job. But my heart wasn’t really in it. I had started blogging the year prior and felt content with where it was going and where I hoped it could go. And staying home with my little guys was incredibly rewarding. And so I wasn’t very proactive or aggressive in the job search.
Over the last 18 months, I have gone back and forth with returning to work. There was always a HUGE part of me that loved being home with the boys. I enjoyed being able to spend every moment with them and having the freedom and flexibility to run when I wanted (early or on treadmill if I wanted to sleep in), to do fun activities when we wanted and to teach them the way I envisioned. I loved being there when they woke up, at naptime for snuggles and at bedtime – and every moment in between.
But, I felt like there was this part of me that was missing. I always loved school and then my six years in the Army – I love learning, the daily mental challenge and the responsibility. I missed the mental stimulation, the interaction with adults and the ability to set long-term professional goals for myself – things I was not getting with blogging, free-lance writing or social media. And so again, I felt like I was being pulled in two separate directions.
I started applying for jobs about 9 months ago – probably applied to 15-20 – ranging in fields from social media to editorial to research. And it was extremely frustrating and disheartening because I didn’t get one single call back. I would read the job descriptions and know I could perform (or at least learn) the required skills. But, on paper, I was not qualified. I didn’t have the required x-x years of professional experience and my military experience didn’t mirror what the job description was looking for.
I also had two requirements that I looked for in a job and so a lot of jobs were not even considered because they didn’t meet one or both:
- Pay: my salary needed to be high enough where it paid for me to leave the boys. We need childcare several days/week and the cost of transportation is not cheap – so my salary needed to more than cover those two aspects. If it didn’t, I would basically be paying more money to work.
- Happiness: I wanted a job that made me happy and excited. I wasn’t leaving being a SAHM because I wasn’t happy. Not at all. I was leaving because I wanted to do this for myself. And therefore, I wanted it to be a job that brought happiness to my life, not more stress.
There was a moment in early August where I broke down with my husband. I felt defeated and just sad – I began questioning my intelligence and ability to get a job. I had worked hard at West Point and gotten good grades and then spent six years in the Army working sometimes over 105 hour weeks (while deployed) and felt that it wasn’t worth a dime.
My husband had just met with a friend who works in finance and he knew that there were a couple of openings in his firm. He made a call and just like that, I had an interview scheduled for 36 hours later. I was offered that job on the spot but even more promising was a meeting at JPMorgan later that day (that someone at the first firm made for me). Over the next two weeks, I had three interviews at JPMorgan and was offered a position in the Oversight and Controls group as a Senior Associate.
Once a start date was on the calendar, I had this overwhelming need to fill every moment of every day with activities, excursions and fun things with my sons. We went pumpkin picking, to the amusement park, movies (my youngest’ first time!), visits with family, endless reading and crafts in the house. I was both excited and sad. Excited for this new chapter in my life but sad that I was ending another one – and even more sad for my little guys whose world was going to change.
The first week was a combination of exciting, terrifying and exhausting. I was running on nothing but adrenaline the first day and woke up the second day in a exhausted haze. My feet were covered in blisters, my legs were insanely sore and I was on barely any sleep. Yet it was exhilarating. (I should add that it was not intentional to sandwich my first week back at work with a goal marathon five hours away the day before or a second marathon a plane ride away the following weekend – but that was the date they asked if I could start – and there was no way I was going to say no!)
I’m planning on doing a post on what my days look like and how I’m fitting in running, family time and sleep. But, I want to get a bit more settled. I don’t feel like the plan is completely ironed out yet – but it’s getting better. I’m getting on a schedule and am minimizing the time suck in the AMs.
Training will be a challenge, but I am determined to continue to train the way I want. Last week was a success – 60+ hours of work and commuting (my commute is the only sucky part of the job!) and 55 miles on the pavement. My running will be taking place early in the AM – while my little guys are asleep – so that when I come home from work, I am able to spend every moment with them until their bedtime.
I’m adjusting better than I expected. Three weeks in and I can say that I am LOVING my job – I’m being challenged in ways I haven’t been since my Army days. The hardest aspect has been not seeing my little guys much. Some mornings they are still asleep when I leave for the bus and have been asleep for the night a few times when I’ve gotten home. The boys are adjusting as well. It’s getting better. The first week was okay. But the second was tough, especially on my oldest. What made it really hard was that I was gone that weekend (Chicago Marathon) so there was no time to cuddle, read, play or even see each other.
Thankfully, there were zero tears last week when I left for work. The boys seem to be getting used to me leaving in the morning and coming home at night. We are focusing on one day at a time while also learning to look ahead to the weekend when we will have time to spend all day as a family.
And we are working on defining a new normal for us.
“Things may never go back to normal. You may need to create a new normal. And that is okay.”
Hope you had a great weekend! xo