I have always known what I wanted out of my career. When I see a direction I want to go, I just put my head down and work until I get there.
It was that way when I began my full-time career at the EAP. I knew when I finished graduate school that social service agencies were not the place for me. I wanted to work with organizations and help their systems function more effectively. The key was applying what I had learned about family systems in school to the companies with which I consulted. One of the things I learned is, for all my faults (and there are many), my personality lends itself quite well to this role. Beginning in 2004, I learned about account management and consultation. The more I learned about myself and grew as an individual, both personally and professionally, the more trusted a resource I became to others. Being myself actually made me better at my job! It was a great realization.
Once I decided to explore private practice in addition to my full-time role at the EAP, I learned the same skills I had been developing for consultation, building rapport and coaching worked well one on one in clinical sessions. A new love was born. I consider myself very lucky that I have been able to find two careers in my post-graduate life that I was passionate about and juggled quite well, until recently. As I sit here, 4 days away from my due date with my first pregnancy, I realize how lucky I have been over the last nine years. I have been able to clearly state, “I love what I do.” And I truly mean it. But now, with the impending expansion of my family of four to a family of five, I realized I had to make some hard decisions
Fifteen years of my life was spent raising other people’s children. I always worked hard and took pride in my role as a nanny. It helped me to discover myself and fine tune strategies in a way most parents never get. I believe I had an impact in each child’s life, no matter how short the relationship. Who they are is in some way, shaped by my role in their development. They shaped me as well and how I coach parenting strategies. Now I have my own children through marriage and another on the way! The work-work-work-at-jobs-I-love formula is not working for me any longer. I have to make a choice. I have to transition to the option I believe will work best for me and for my family. It’s terrifying!
Tomorrow is my last day at my full time job; the position through which I have defined myself for the last nine years. After tomorrow, I will no longer be an account manager at the EAP. I have had to give all my clients to my replacement. She’ll do a great job, but it’s still hard. I worked diligently to develop those relationships. Which ones will continue? Who will still reach out to contact me? And my coworkers, what will I do without them? I’m transitioning to exclusively working in my private practice. The thought, “Nobody’s the boss of me!” has floated through my mind on many an occasion when I have considered what it will be like to exclusively work in my own business. But while nobody’s the boss of me, I also know that nobody’s there to just drop in on and say hello. I’ll have to develop new friendships and new colleagues.
Juxtaposed over the career change is also my transition in family role and entry into a new level of parenthood. I take my role as stepmother very seriously, and almost never refer to my kids as my stepchildren. But there is something different to this. I’ll finally have the baby I longed for over the years. One who calls me “mom” and not “Teresa.” My husband and I will be co-parenting with an infant as well as school aged children. We’re all very Three Musketeer’s about it… “All for one and one for all!” We’re in it together, parents and children. The multilayered adjustments that will be taking place are going to take nurturance and care, for all involved.
Now I need more than ever to focus on practicing what I preach. The checklist begins: Stop worrying, make sure kids know I still love them just as much post-baby, connect with my husband about things other than children, manage the influx of family to ensure proper adjustment for my family of creation, get back to work soon so I don’t abandon my current clients, create appropriate structure and routine for optimal family and individual development. The list goes on and on.
At the top of the list? Stop, look around and enjoy the changes. Everything will be fine in the end as long as we make the family our priority and I keep making room for my professional goals.