My oldest young’un is gonna be 5-years-old soon (whoa!!!).
5 years ago this month (August) I officially left my career.
This time 5 years ago, I was executing a plan 6 months in the making to move a complete data center from one city to another for Nokia. It was a large project in terms of “this isn’t something companies do every day”. But a small project in terms of my previous experience and capabilities.
There were lots of suits pacin’ around, wringing their hands and looking for reassurance that there wasn’t a single hiccup (and there wasn’t). I sat quietly as I always do in front of my Cisco gear typing away until the very last piece of iron was hummin’ and passin’ packets.
My 7-month baby bump barely noticeable. The only butterflies in my stomach was her dancing to her own rhythm just as she does now.
In a period of 6 hours we (me and a bunch of big muscle-y types) had moved about 15 racks packed with network gear, servers and patch panels from a data center in San Jose to a data center in Mountain View. OK…the muscle-y guys did most of the heavy lifting while I gave the thumbs up on pulling plugs and moving copper.
I am proud to say it was a very well-orchestrated move and my users were offline for about the amount of time it took to physically drive the equipment from one facility to another.
By the time the iron was reinstalled on racks, I had a fully operational network up and running and lots of very appreciative engineers.
I hung around for a few weeks after, but this data center move was the last big project of my career.
Of course, I had the option to stay if I wanted and I did consider it for about 2 hours…they even gave me the option of “working from home” which seems comical now!
But feeling my young’un doin’ dances in my belly reminded me I had a more important task ahead.
Now that it’s been 5 YEARS (!!!), I am reflecting on my journey so far.
5 Things I Wish I Knew 5 Years Ago.
1. Because I grew up desperate for the Mother I never had, it was in my head that once I had kids, all I would be doing for 18 YEARS is raisin’ young’uns. During this past year my older young’un actually likes doing other things that do not include me. It’s weird (in a good way) to see my almost 5-year-old stretching her independence.
If I could go back in time, I would have told my pregnant self that in 5 years, I just might start thinking about having a career again (if I want one again), or doing something totally different (like blogging!?).
I also would have reassured myself that I’ll get plenty of new ideas between then and now.
2. What concerned me the most about leaving my career 5 years ago was “I’m gonna forget all this techy stuff.” Well, 5 years later, I haven’t forgotten much. At the time I thought I would forget everything from how TCP/IP works to how to log in to a router. Pregnancy hormones did make me deranged and I probably did have short-term memory loss during the 4+ years that I slept in 3 hour windows. BUT! Headhunters still call me when they have a position to fill (even in this “terrible” economy!), and I’m about 99% sure I could get a job working in my former career if I really wanted.
So 5 years later, I still feel “relevant”. And actually, I believe I would make a more valuable employee now than I did during my pre-Mother days.
3. A lot of well-intentioned people told me during the early stages of Motherhood, “oh, it gets a lot better.” Most of the time, they just instinctively said it without me even asking, “is it gonna get better?”
I got so tired of hearing it that I might have rolled my eyes a time or two.
I don’t remember.
I was really tired.
Bottom line: hearing it didn’t help, and me saying it now won’t help anyone else. It’s sort of like trying to explain to a woman with no children how tired she’s gonna be when her first child turns ~9-months-old. Or trying to explain to parents with one kid what it’s like with two.
It’s a level of tired that just can’t be explained, and can’t be understood. Experience is a requirement to understand. On the other side of sheer exhaustion, it has gotten better.
4. No full-time Moms who are in the trenches every day. All day. Warned me about Ugly Thursday (or the 4th day of Daddy’s 5 day work week). Ummm. Maybe I should read #3 again.
And I am convinced that they all knew about it and just didn’t tell me.
Like a cruel joke.
Every full-time Mom knows that by the time Thursday rolls around, something. has. to. give.
Mama’s gotta have a break somehow, someway.
Or she might spontaneously combust.
Seriously. It’s bad. Real bad.
By Friday, I. am. numb.
4+ years of Ugly Thursdays I have come to realize that not only does Mama need a break, but my young’uns also want a break from me.
This is the point when someone needs to Mother The Mother.
By Thursday, I am really longing for a Mother, a sister, an aunt, a Grandma.
Anybody who loves my kid (almost) as much as I do, and “get’s it” that me wanting a break doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids. Someone who knows I just need to get away for about 45 minutes to breathe. And daydream.
I came up empty-handed in the Mother, Sister, Aunt, Cousin department…and Thursday is the day I get the most sad about that.
5. Five years ago I was a neat freak, clean freak germaphobe. If my 5-year-younger-self could see me now. She would vomit. But it’s all good.
The health department hasn’t shut us down and CPS hasn’t knocked on my door.
Maybe they did and I wasn’t home.
My 401k misses me.
My laptop bag feels all empty inside.
My work wardrobe wonders where I went.
But my 2-year-old summed it up best yesterday, “Mommy, I missed you when I was sleeping.”
I am right where I need to be.
With no regrets. And that is the ONE thing I wondered about the most 5 years ago.