I've been meaning to write a post about how this pregnancy has already impacted my identity at work. Unfortunately I keep getting waylaid by sheer exhaustion, lack of motivation, and more interesting posts such as I-am-going-to-have-a-baby-in-a-day-spa!
This week seemed like a good time to sit down and finally write this post because I am finding myself struggling with being very behind at work and feeling like my performance is suffering and trying to accept that this is not the end of the world. Let me give you a little caveat first about myself. I have always been an extremely driven person. Doing "well" for me is not enough. I have do "the best." I am really hard on myself about mistakes or even "average" performance. I'm not sure where this comes from. No one in my family is an over-achiever. I'm sure it's somewhat anxiety driven, but I feel it has also grown into a part of my professional identity. I value doing things the right way, with integrity and care. This pregnancy has forced me to treat myself like a regular person. There was no way for me to be super-employee while feeling the way I felt physically. So...I let things slide. Unfortunately, in my job, everything is based on how many billable minutes you bill each month. When you are behind, that is NOT ok. And guess what? I have been behind for the past two months. Likely I will be behind again next month due to our planned vacation. And thus, this post.
So how has pregnancy "switched my identity?" Well, I think this is happening in two ways. First, on a day-to-day basis I am starting to feel differently about this "do everything perfectly" mentality. I have started to accept that maybe being "perfect" at work is not the most important thing in the world. For example, the day that I had bleeding and needed to schedule an emergency doctor's appointment, I didn't think twice about rescheduling an entire afternoon's worth of patients -something that I would have agonized about in the past. Also, I may not call people back the very day that they call me. I may wait until the following day. Or, um, later in the afternoon. Ha. It feels a bit like I am starting to value myself more and allow myself more time to be human within my role at work. Now, don't get me wrong. I still feel that stress pop up (as it is this morning) when I feel that I really am not doing all that I can do. This isn't an easy, fluid transition and I'm not sure I want to completely lose that anxiety that drives me to do well. But, if I am able to let go of just some of it...well, that's a good thing.
The other way in which I feel my identity changing is on a much deeper level. I'm sure this is the same identity crisis that every woman goes through when suddenly realizing that, despite what you are told, it is ridiculously hard to "have it all." I've always been a quietly passive feminist. I don't really go out of my way to broadcast my views or promote women's rights. BUT, for some reason, my professional identity crisis is bringing it all to the surface. I want to have a successful career. And not just, a job, but a lifelong career in which I move forward, grow, obtain recognition, and give back in some way. But, at the same time, I want to just relax and be a mom. We are at a point in our lives financially where I think we could make it happen that I could do just that. I could choose to stay home and just be a mom.
But really, as amazing as that sounds, I'm not sure it's who I am. It may be the kind of mom I want to be, but it's necessarily the type of person I want to be. Because my job, specifically, being a psychologist, is an integral part of my identity.
So that brings me back to my passively quiet little feminist voice inside. I feel happy that I have choices, but somehow resentful that it is a choice I have to make because I am a woman. Does that make sense? I know that it is illogical to say I am resentful of having a choice. Because it is a choice that didn't exist before. And yes, I know that men have the that same choice as well, but somehow, it's not as present or conscious for them. For me, I am fairly sure that if I give up who I am as a psychologist, I am giving up a part of myself. And yet, I want to be less-stressed, more present, more in the moment, more available as a mother (and yes, as a human) than I am currently able at my full time job.
I already feel the push-pull at work. For example, one of the things I live for at work is to train and supervise interns and postdoctoral fellows. When supervision assignments were made, I realized that I wouldn't be part of that this year. In order to take the maximum amount of time for my maternity leave (something I strongly believe in), I have to sacrifice a component of my job that I love. I can't provide mentorship and supervision to a trainee when I am spending half of their training year at home bonding with my baby! So, here it starts. You pick one thing, you lose another.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitching about little things here such as missing out on opportunities at work, or feeling guilty for being behind on my billing. I am just bemoaning the fact that I can't have it all. In order to make this transition to being the type of mother I want to be, I need to relinquish my death grip on being a driven professional.
I remember when I was still trying to get pregnant, I wrote a post about feeling ready to let go and not care so much about work. About wanting to have something more important to care about. I still feel that way. But, now that it's rapidly approaching, I am quietly mourning the loss of a familiar role. Oddly, I find myself wondering if any of this will matter once the baby comes? And finally, I try to remind myself that all of this agonizing and deliberating is a luxury that most women don't have. I need to remind myself to be glad that I am able to redefine my role instead of being forced into one. In the past, I may have been pigeonholed into homemaker. Or, in a different life, I may be forced to work 60 hours a week and leave my baby with whoever I could afford. And so? I will keep on being aware of how I am changing and allow myself time to contemplate it, but try to remind myself that I am lucky to be able to have this problem.
p.s. I re-read this post before publishing it and I realized that most of you will probably be reading this and thinking, "Well why can't she just work part-time and take the middle road?" Yes, that is my ultimate goal. I'm not sure yet if that will be an option at my current job, but it is my hope. So, logically, I am planning and hoping for that. Emotionally, I am just stuck straddling both worlds.