8.31.2005

Clarity

There is very little that better clears the cobwebs from your brain than a hard, make the sweat drop-off of you, work out before sunrise. And its very rare that I get motivated enough to do such a punishing thing.

Today I did. Today, I rolled out of bed, threw on some clothes, located my sneakers and sped over to the gym. I climbed up on my bike just before the clock struck 5:30 am. And I survived the hardest spinning class I've ever taken. Each time the instructor barked out "Give that resistance one more full turn!" I wanted to slide off my seat and bonk my water bottle on his bald head. But I didn't. Instead I let my stress energize my legs. I let my tension muscle down the pedals.

Last night I made a very difficult decision. This morning, although in my heart I knew I had made the right choice, the pit of my stomach churned with indecision. I still had to tell the boss. (Something I *still* need to do.) I wavered. I started to waffle as I stopped rubbing sleep from my eyes long enough to adjust seat height. Then I started to Spin.

My Saturday instructor is very big on the whole "Mind/body" connection of Spinning. You're supposed to close your eyes and picture yourself on that road. Picture yourself climbing. Picture yourself gliding down the side of a large hill. Picture the wind in your hair. Yet when I close my eyes or focus on my feet pressing down on the pedals, I often find myself meditating and ruminating. Today was no different.

I didn't see a road beneath my wheel, I saw my career path. And what I saw, is that it didn't diverge from its current course today.

See yesterday I was offered a promotion. I'd retain my current task list, and I'd take on a whole lot more - including three direct reports, a set of SOPs to create and a system to measure performance. I would be responsible for the success or failure of a very vital organization. As I mulled it over in the office yesterday, it sounded great. It's something I know I can do. It's a step I know I *need* to make.

Then I got home and I started our bedtime routines. I sat in the recliner feeding Megan and I started to cry. The more I thought about the other change this new job would bring, the more I cried. Taking the promotion would mean more money, it'd mean more responsibility, it would mean better resume fodder - but it would also mean more days in the office. I'd have to give up my quasi-stay-at-home status for a 4 day work week. I'd sacrifice the very thing I had sacrificed my job for in the first place. And I wasn't ready to do that yet. My career needed this type of move, but it didn't need it now.

When we found out I was pregnant with Logan we mapped out a plan. Bruce being older and our income being what it is, we knew that at some point during our children's lives we'd both be working. We knew that I'd have to go full-time and start the corporate climb in earnest in enough time to be able to take over the role of "primary bread winner" before the kids left for college if necessary. But, we also knew that we wanted to be able to have me at home as much as I could be while they were young. So we made some hard choices and we arrived at our current arrangement.

I've been working two days a week (plus time at home as needed)as a contractor on hourly rates for three years. I've given up a complete sense of job security. I've give up my 401K. I've given up several things. And I don't miss them (well maybe I miss the 401K, too bad my IRA isn't seeing an influx of cash either.) Often I have the challenge of fitting in a full-time project load into 16 hours. I have the stress of meeting those challenges so that no one second guesses this agreement. People that hear of this set-up often chuckle and say "how do I get that deal!" They say it in the same way people marvel at the bliss stay-at-home-moms must have as they sit on their couches eating their bon-bons. They have no idea how hard it is sometimes to just survive until your head hits the pillow in exhaustion.

I closed my eyes tight on this work-out ride. I focused on the individual beads of sweat that trickled down my body. I focused on the working muscles. Then I left honesty flow back in. When honest with myself I knew I was doing the right thing. If it were solely a career decision, I'd have taken it almost on the spot. But I'm a mom. I have a family and so nothing is simply a career decision. This was a life decision.

I had comfort in knowing he'd understand. My boss is a lot of things, but he can also be human. We had talked at length yesterday and I knew I had a choice. This wasn't a "take this or be black balled forever." This was a "we know we're asking you to change more than just your to do list here. Here's the alternative if you say no." And the alternative, while not *as* attractive is more than doable. So I'm doing it.

The class came to an end as the very big, muscle-bound teacher led is in some very 'zen-like' stretching. I rushed to the car, sped back home and ran up the stairs so Bruce could leave the house to get to work in time. The children still slept. I took the time to shower and cool off. I stood in their doorways watching them. And I knew once more that this was right.

Logan has had his moments today. In weeks gone by it'd have been one of those high stress days where I wonder what people would think if they found me wandering the street babbling to myself in a crazed daze. But today is different. I've still had to take a moment to reprimand. I've lost my patience once or twice -having to repeat one's self will do that - yet I've felt calmer. I've felt more in control. I've felt more patient. And I know its because I stood at the brink of not having it like this.

I found clarity.

1 comment:

expatmama said...

Wow, a tough one-- but it does sound like you have made the right decision for you and your family. The spinning sounds great-- more the sense of clarity and zen than the early rising and hard work-- though it sounds like it was worth that too! It's great that you are at peace with this instead of feeling conflicted about it, and of course great that your boss understands and has offered another option. Nice writing, too!