Returning to Work + Juggling Training

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!).

army days

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.

2011

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.

the boys

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.

the boys2

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.

the boys3

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!)

work

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.

early run2

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

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    28 thoughts on “Returning to Work + Juggling Training

    1. Pingback: A Break From Training |

    2. This is a great post! I would love to hear more about your job, time in the Army, and how you continue to balance family, running, and work. I’m particularly interested in hearing how you are able to get up so early in the morning to run when it’s dark, cold, and everyone else is sleeping. Your level of drive and motivation is so inspiring!

    3. Thank you for posting this. I have been out of the work force for 4 yrs (since my youngest was born). I worked through the my first two children, but we moved after my last was born so I lost my babysitter (grandma) and it didn’t make sense to look for a job and pay daycare fees. I plan to go back next year when my youngest starts school and I’m also terrified of not getting any call backs since it’s been so long. So glad you found something you love! I would love to hear about what you did in the army, sounds fascinating!

    4. You are so inspiring. I am a year post-grad and know I have so much ahead of me, but it’s easy to lose sight. You are such a strong woman and remind me not to settle for less than what I deserve in my career and that it can be balanced with running. Thank you!
      Margaret @ youngandrungry recently posted..10+ PicturesMy Profile

    5. Great post! I’ve been reading for a while but have never commented, and have wondered how your return to work has been going. I’d also like to hear more about your Army experience. I’m an active duty Army CPT myself and also a mom of a 1 year old, so I definitely relate to the difficulty in balancing it all! I’ve had a difficult enough time training for half marathons lately, so I commend you for sticking with your higher mileage training!

    6. Your boys are SO adorable!!! I love all the pictures of them. So sweet.
      I think it is super inspiring that you found a wonderful job that you truly love. Kudos for going for it and making everything work!
      I also really admire your dedication to your training and the determination to make it happen.
      We as women and Mothers have such a hard balance – being a Mom and yet wanting to achieve important goals for ourselves. I think it’s important for our kids to see that! Your kids must think you are pretty awesome! xoxo
      Natalie recently posted..Weekend Update: It’s All The Little Things!My Profile

    7. This is wonderful. Such a challenge to do it all, and I think as a working mom you can have it all just not all at the same time! I run early in the mornings just like you so I don’t take away from the kids and their activities once I get home. Continue success to you!! Xoxo

    8. I think learning more about what you did in the military would be interesting!

      You are one of the few inspirational bloggers out there. Balancing training, fulltime work, and a commute plus a family is awesome. I try, but the most I can do is a 30 mile week, once in a while!

      I recently applied for a financial job, but was deemed overqualified for the entry-level position that ended up being more entry-level than the description led me to believe, so though at the other end of the spectrum, I know the disappointment! But you are right, ultimately pay and happiness are the two biggest factors so I hope something works out. Congrats for knowing what you want and going for it!

    9. You are such an inspiration. I have the same commute struggles and have decided to take a hiatus from marathons after this Sunday because trying to squeeze in training while working full time has worn me down both physically and mentally. I don’t even have children. I actually feel bad that my sweet puppy sees me less. I used to work from home so he is used to having me around. Then juggling time with my boyfriend and freelance work that I do in addition to my full time job has become overwhelming.
      I commend you for going after what truly fills hour heart and makes you feel fulfilled. I will definitely think twice about skipping a workout though when I think about how you can make it work :)
      Sally @ sweat out the small stuff recently posted..Sinus Infections and runningMy Profile

    10. I’m so happy for you. I know how you feel. After I had my first son, I took some time to stay home with him. But I expected that to last 6 months and it turned into 3 years. It was hard trying to find a job that met those same criteria. Going back to work full-time was hard and after a year, realized that position wasn’t the right fit for me. It was adding MORE stress to my life. I feel really lucky to be able to freelance and do what I do – consulting and writing. It’s hard leaving family but I do think that it’s super important to do the things that make you happy, that nurture you. And it’s important for the boys to see this too. You are doing an amazing job! xoxo
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..The Dos and Don’ts of PeriscopeMy Profile

    11. Hi I found your blog from HRG! Congrats on the job! I’m a working mom as well and understand all too well the desire to work and be challenged! I ran my first marathon in January and it is tough to get schedule training runs in but it’s SO worth it! Best of luck as you navigate this new routine!

    12. LOVE everything about this post. My son was born right before I got out of the Army, and I spent 4.5 months with him before starting my job. I love my job, we have a great nanny, and our family is happy. I will say that “mommy wars” are all too real and frustrating. It’s still upsetting to me when SAHM’s criticize me or say things like, “Oh, I decided I wanted to raise my children.” It’s a punch in the gut to realize there are people out there who think I am not raising my son. Ultimately, all parents work, whether it is inside or outside of the home. As long as the decisions you make are best for your family, you are doing the right thing.

      Running early is a good call. I hate my alarm going off that early, but knowing I pick my son up every day at 3:45 and have nothing to do but play with him is worth it. Weekend meal prep is also my saving grace. I make all our dinners on Sunday afternoon while my son naps. It helps us eat healthy with minimal work during the week!

      You’ve got this momma! You’re amazing!

    13. I’ve been hoping for an update on how things are going and what led up to your decision to work outside the home again. I work as a professor and professional musician and am expecting my first child in January – it’s encouraging to read stories of other women who are making it work. I would love to hear more about this and hope it becomes a regular part of your blog!

      I would also love to read about your work in the Army; I’ve always secretly hoped you would talk about it on the blog.

    14. You’re proof that you can still achieve your goals, work a fulfilling job and still be a great mom. I admire you so much! I am a single mom with two jobs and after several marathons decided this summer to tackle my first half ironman… So I know how hard it is to be pulled in many directions! Good luck as you get your routine down and find a rhythm. It’ll come!

    15. You truly are an inspiration. I love when you post pictures on Instagram of your early morning miles. I was out the door by 4a this morning and also run most mornings before work. Some days I hate getting up that early and running in the darkness all of the time, but I hate when I miss my run even more. I would love to hear more about your time in the Army and how you are balancing work +kids+ running+ and your sanity.

      My husband works 55-75 hours a week on average. Our girls love him just as much as me so try not to stress over every minute you do or don’t get with the kids -just make what time you do get count.

    16. Thanks for sharing this, I was wondering how it was all working out. Glad to hear that you all are making it work quite well. I think it’s great that you are pursuing something that allows you to set some of those professional goals you mentioned. Way to go!
      Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC recently posted..Five Things I LoveMy Profile

    17. I will love to hear how you fit in your marathon training. I’ve been a member of the 4:30 run club for about 10 years…

      I have been working since my boys were born, and though I’ve run some half marathons since they were born, and run 6-8 miles almost every morning, fitting in a marathon feels daunting. Running a marathon does hold some appeal, but between not wanting to miss out on anymore time with the boys than I already miss with work, balancing my workouts with my husband’s, making sure that our dog gets sufficient exercise, the boys soccer games and other activities and playing tennis with my husband and sons, a marathon just feels like too much of a sacrifice right now.

      Maybe I will run one when my boys are teenagers and don’t want much to do with me or when I retire….

    18. I loved reading about this, I knew the basics (West point, then Army) but hearing more about it all is really interesting. I always love reading about working moms, training, and balancing it all- because someday I hope to be able to do that. Balancing working a lot a training is one thing but adding in the mom part is a whole other story. As always you inspire and amaze me, and I’ll keep saying this…I cannot wait to see you again in a few weeks!
      Laura recently posted..Courage Run 5k 2015My Profile

    19. Long-time reader but first time commenter wanting to let you know I find you incredibly inspirational. I love how hard you’re working towards your goals and trying to balance so many things in life with a smile, but you’re still real enough to let everyone know it isn’t easy. I’m sure I’m not the only one of your readers who appreciates your authenticity!
      I know I would love to hear more about your work for the Army. As someone who is working hard to be able to get into the Canadian Forces after graduation (either in intelligence or personnel selection), I would really appreciate learning more. My significant other and many of our friends are regular force or reservists here, but they’re all NCMs, and I don’t have much of an insider on what’s expected on the day to day of an officer/Captain. I know you’re limited in what you’re allowed to share, but I would love to read about whatever you’re willing to tell.
      Keep on being your awesome self. Thanks for all the goodness you share. :)