I am less than one week into my 9-month sabbatical. How’s it going, you ask? Is it fun? Is it everything you thought it’d be so far?
First, before I answer, let me tell you a bit about what I’ve been through in the last six days.
Last Thursday, August 1st, was my official sabbatical start date. Let’s say for the sake of argument that 8:00am is the standard time the working day begins. My daughter, Liv, who is twenty-two and graduated from college in May, arrived home – for the first time in four years – on Wednesday at 4:00pm. For those of you who prefer words over math as I do, that means I had sixteen hours until I would not be working. Sixteen hours to adjust. Sixteen hours until I would realize that I self-imposed pretty much everything I am always cheerfully, inspirationally, annoyingly helping other people get through; i.e. choices & change.
I kind of feel like Gwenyth Paltrow as Rosemary in Shallow Hal, when she donned a fat suit so she could make a point and feel what it was like to go through what others go through.
I’m betting putting on that fat suit every day was uncomfortable.
I am uncomfortable.
This is the first time in thirty-two years that I have not worked for an employer. THIRTY-TWO YEARS. Again, for you word over number lovers, that’s over three decades. 70% of my life.
And I chose it. This break was not forced; in fact, dare I say it was also uncomfortable for my employer to allow it, and equally less than ideal for my cohorts with whom I’ve worked for the last twenty-three years.
To say I am appreciative for this opportunity would be an understatement. I recognize full-well that when you work along side people for so long, you rely on your teammates to carry their weight. Now others are carrying mine, and as a self-proclaimed since birth “I will do it myself!” kind of girl, it has not been easy to let go.
But that’s what I chose.
When Liv walked through the door last week, I hugged her for what seemed like an hour. It was an embrace that signaled the end of a chapter in her life and the start of a new one in mine. We lament and laugh together daily at the many changes we are going through together; the break that each of us has with no clear direction in the back of our minds competing with what we know we should be doing: enjoying the journey one step at a time.
I spent the first day of my sabbatical and her first full day home unpacking stuff I hadn’t seen in four years and am still, one week later, wondering why it is in our house. Moreover, I am wondering how any of us lived like that during our college years. DE-SCUST-ING. If I had a dollar for every time I uttered, “I didn’t raise you like this!” this sabbatical would be permanent.
From food-laden silverware (“Is that dried peanut butter on this fork?”) to puke-stained (pretty sure, didn’t ask) blankets to bags filled with dirty winter boots, college-ruled notebook paper, and her random strands of hair, we put it all away. And by away, I mean every time I told her, “Be right back, sweets,” I left her bedroom and hightailed it to the dumpster.
The second day of my sabbatical and our household’s new roommate was spent downtown. Sure, that sounds cool for a second, like the whole “Be a tourist in your own city!” kind of thing, but as has been the case so far, it was nothing like it sounds.
Liv had surgery downtown. She needed her nose broken, a/k/a/ deviated septum surgery, so she could breathe properly again. I offered to do it myself since I like to box and also, see “unemployed” above, but alas, I remembered how to be a decent Mom again after my four-year hiatus, so I drove her instead.
The next few days made everything she brought home from college seem less gross.
Wait, what day is it right now?
That’s sort of how it’s been so far – a whirlwind.
Many of my friends have been asking, “Are you going to travel?” “Have you been sleeping in?” “What are you going to do with all that time off?”
While I am definitely on a mission over here, the first thing I’m begrudgingly realizing I have to do is give myself a break.
I’ve been away from work for fewer days than people go on vacation and I’m already wondering why the book isn’t finished, why the closets aren’t better organized, and why there is still expired milk in the fridge (that I bought, not that Liv brought home from college).
But mostly, I’m wondering why the majority of books I read and the one I’m
trying going to write all essentially say the same thing about life: that you have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable in order to grow and (accept) change.
I still have a few weeks left.