It was August last year when I paced in front of my computer screen and stared at a message I had written to my boss. We were leaving the next day for our yearly pilgrimage to Cape Cod, and I needed to get in touch with her before I left. I squeezed my eyes and clicked send on my letter of resignation from that job. I was torn about leaving because I loved the possibility of what the job could be but knew that there was an issue with management that I would never be able to fix from the inside.
It had been a decidedly terrible summer in the news and somewhat in life. My husband and I were both struggling in our work. Whether we admit it now or not, we were at our unhappiest professional point and our unhappiness at work was spilling over into our personal lives. We tried to compartmentalize our feelings about our work but that meant returning to work every Monday became harder and harder with each passing week. Resigning before our vacation was a bold and necessary move.
During last year’s vacation I was able to relax but I also knew I would have to return to work and push myself to finish projects, to bring open items to a close and to hand things off as smoothly as possible. My youngest was starting kindergarten and I wasn’t going to put her second during a stressful professional patch.
Once the kids were back in school and we fell into a routine, we both started to turn the curve at work. I left that job and transitioned into a new one. I found my way to my current job by accident and thank my lucky stars it has turned out to be a supreme fit. My husband also found a new job and his transition has been slower to warm. We were faced with the simultaneous transitions which meant we were both trying to prove our value at a time when we needed someone else to be the backup person. Though we have a better work and life balance than ever before, it was a tough few months getting settled in.
And now it’s one year later. This time last year, I probably wished I could press the fast forward button. But we don’t get that kind of control over our lives and wading our way through the painful, pressure-filled moments is what make the joyful ones so delicious. As we packed for our trip to the beach this year, I could not believe the good fortune we have. We both left jobs that would not badger us while we were away, that would not interfere with time with the girls. And we could walk back in and juggle the kids and work until school started.
The reflection on one year ago is part of a larger set of reflections I cannot seem to escape because of the ubiquity of social media. Profiles and accounts have a way of dredging up good and bad moments, reminding me what a difference one year, two years, ten years makes. And then I try and wrap my mind around the idea that I’m in a stage of life where I can measure time in neat little chunks like 2 years or 5 years or even 10 years, and I shake my head. Because it feels like it was five minutes ago that I met my husband and romped around New York City and not too long ago I lived in New York state. And perhaps just a couple of years ago we lived together for the first time and bought our first house. And just and just…..
My incredulity, my disbelief is nothing new. I have written about this before and will likely write about it again. But just as mystified as I am by the passage of time, I am equally delighted by the changes that may be felt in a year as I did when Facebook reminded me of my work anniversary just yesterday.
I have to wonder how I’ll be feeling in one year about this moment because right now, today, life is good. The girls are growing and changing. The little kiddo has the perfect jack-o-lantern smile with two missing teeth. Their hair reaches halfway down their backs. Their school lives are so different: spelling tests for the little one and French for the big one. Their lives are getting busier as I settle into my work life, and one year later, my work life is so different. I spent a year establishing myself in a new organization and so did my husband. And we came out on the other side in one piece. We have moments as a family when we’re all in it together, and I think, if I could freeze this moment, I would stop everything now and get off this ride because it will never be as good as this.
I have to keep reminding myself that time is always running in the background. Sometimes slower, sometimes faster. The ante just gets upped. There will be new high highs and low lows. Nothing is perfect forever and certainly nothing is guaranteed.
But the feeling of contentment today, one year past a particularly tense time, is something I’d happily bottle up for next year if I could.