Grieving Change

Today a new friend asked me how the transition to working outside of the home one day a week had been.  And it’s something  I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  So much changed when I became a parent, and one of those things was a choice to work less.  I was and am so thankful to have the option and it’s something that I don’t take for granted.

Until my daughter was born, so much of my identity revolved around my work.  I loved it.  I loved the babies, I loved connecting with families.  I loved (and still do) placing a baby in his or her mother’s arms for the first time.  It still takes my breath away.  But when I went down to two shifts a week, the opportunity to “primary” a baby practically disappeared.  Even when I did form a strong attachment to a baby or family, it was rare for me to be assigned to care for that baby regularly.  And that is something I grieved.  As difficult as it was to be away from my own baby, and as much as I wanted to be home with her, when I was at work, I still wanted to have the same work experiences that I had previously.  But I couldn’t.  And I had to grieve that.  I was choosing to give up something that I loved for someone I loved far greater, but I still felt the loss.

And now.  Now I work one shift a week.  And I am so thankful for that.  I’m thankful for a job that allows me that flexibility and that my husband wants to be at home with our kids.  I’m thankful for the “break” that it provides once a week and that I can interact with adults on a professional level.  I’m thankful that I do still get to interact with babies and families in a meaningful way, even if it’s not the same as it once was.  I am truly thankful.

But.  Working only one day a week has its pitfalls.  Enough new staff has been hired that I don’t know many of my coworkers anymore.  Recently I walked into work a different way than usual and I didn’t recognize a single night shift nurse.  And they didn’t recognize me.  It was like was the one that was new, instead of actually being one of the more senior nurses.  It was really humbling.  And frustrating.