At long last!

Giant, life-consuming project submitted! Oh, how I’ve missed the much-needed release of writing this blog – the required time of reflection on Tess’ growth and progress, tucking little vignettes away throughout the day to share later, having a record of Tess’ first year, seeing Tess awake every day – to truly get down to the chewy center of things. I hated those days, leaving the office late at night and knowing I’d missed my window for giggles and drool. I missed writing, but I missed being with my family more.

Dave rose to the challenge and was an incredible dad in my absence! Having his parents here during the week I was trapped at the office was disappointing for me, as I didn’t get much time with them, but was perfect for our family. I missed Tess terribly, but she was snuggled and kissed and played with to her heart’s content. Now that is the beauty of family!

Our jobs allow us a lot of wiggle room in terms of getting our hours in. Dave and I are both responsible and happy employees; if he takes a half-day on Thursday to get Tess to the doctor, he usually works on Saturday. I’m the same. Still, the past few weeks have been so demanding on my side that we started to worry we were making people angry on his side! Of course I was on a massive effort the week Tess had multiple major doctor/development appointments. Sigh.

We did our big end-game push for work on Thursday, so Friday was weird. After getting phone calls from 6am to 11pm for weeks and being aware of the project progress even in my sleep, I was suddenly untethered, especially when instructed not to work for the day! Mom and I worked on the house a bit, Dave and I enjoyed quiet time with Tess when he got home, we went to a concert last night – its so abrupt when you’ve adjusted to a certain life speed and it completely shifts into something else.

I complain a lot, but I do love my job. I am inordinately productive in a pressure cooker, and have an insane drive to make impossible things happen. It’s not about impressing people at the office; it’s about always raising the bar for myself. My sister and I have joked that it’s a family sickness – she’s the same way. In her eyes, it’s competition; in mine, it’s frenetic learning. Different angle, same addiction.

I’m learning that my viewpoint is slightly backwards: I start by looking at where I want to go or what I want life to be like. Then I backtrack and fill in the steps that will get me from point A to point B. it sounds simple, but staying on goal in that process can be challenging. (Who knows? Maybe it’s not that different; maybe everyone does it and doesn’t talk about it.) I know myself – I need deadlines and challenges to thrive. I couldn’t do a routine job and I abhor predictability. I also dislike change. That combination creates a small pocket for a work rhythm, and my job as a complex proposal manager is a great fit. Our projects, our teams, our clients are always changing; but the core points A and B never waver: what are we selling and when is it due?

In my personal life, I want some significant work/life balance. That clearly does not nicely dovetail with my work persona, and one of Dave’s self-designated responsibilities is to club me over the head and drag me away from the computer when it looks like I’m forgetting what he looks like. (He also makes sure I eat and sleep. Good man!)

It’s a double-edged sword, like everything else in life. In some ways, I hope Tess learns from this. What does she really want her life to look like, feel like? We were always encouraged to contemplate “what we wanted to be when we grew up”. Well, that whole growing up thing isn’t exactly a destination. It’s more like the stages of a relationship, or serial dating. I have friends revamping their whole lives as we speak, the way I did a few years ago. A lot of the absolutes I’ve believed in over the years have lost their intimidating qualities. Dave makes movies for fun; I sing when I want to. That is possible. Those vacation days? We are supposed to use them, since the benefits of time off are so convincing that companies like IBM (and Bizlab) have stopped tracking time off. Their philosophy is that good employees take time as needed to allow them to recharge. The point of time off is to renew people’s ability to be productive at work. It’s no longer about how many hours you sit at your desk; it’s about your effectiveness in your job. I can see dad’s eyes rolling as I write this, but that approach can work in the right setting. All of that to say, I hope we succeed in helping her consider more than just a career path; I hope we open her eyes to different rhythms, choices, paths and combinations. It’s cheesy, but I think building a happy life is more like playing with Legos than walking down a road. What pieces fit? What messes up your artistic vision for the final product? You may create the perfect Lego castle, but looking at it two months later realize it doesn’t need the blue wall. Take it down; try it with red.

All this free time is making me giddy; excuse my philosophizing. I’m just in a phase where I’m aware of suddenly being an adult. I see myself through Tess’ eyes, our nannies’ eyes, my coworkers’ eyes; and I realize that while we’re always growing up, being grown up just means becoming more comfortable with ourselves, warts and all. Lucky us!

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