Thursday, April 17, 2008

Behind door number one

I knew something was up on Thursday morning when the new head of the R&D department searched us out for a private meeting in his office. In the formal and hierarchical context of a French company, the Big Boss doesn't just invite you by for a casual cup of coffee.

I knew the news would not be good, but I was hardly expecting, four days after I came back from maternity leave, to learn that the project I've been working on for the past four years had been canceled.

My first thought was I've left my son with a nanny, screaming and unhappy, for this?

My boss looked sheepish and chagrined, and a bit apologetic. He had just learned himself on Monday. The details of why and how the decision was made are not interesting, just a bad combination of a slipped schedule, some unfortunate design choices, and a bevy of bugs, along with a lethal dose executive-level politics. Nothing that should have been insurmountable, in my humble opinion. But we had all been watching The Powers That Be for some time and waiting for the other shoe to drop. It just so happened that it landed on our heads.

Thus I have suddenly and dramatically lost much of the motivation I brought with me this week. But the strange thing is, I still don't regret going back to work. I don't know what I'll be doing in a few months from now, but I am fairly certain I'll end up on working on a closely related project. I'm not concerned about my job, which will probably remain more or less the same. And there is something seductive about starting afresh on a new project that is not persistently tracked by failure.

I feel guilty admitting this, but I don't even regret leaving le Petit to go back to work. He and la nounou get along well now and I know that he is happy most of the day, even if he still cries when we leave him in the morning. Huge progress was made this week, and I am relieved. She even found a way to get him to nap, O miracle! Meanwhile, I'm discovering that I relish my time "off." Being responsible twenty-four-seven for the care of a small child is draining, even when you have the best imaginable backup from husband and family, as I do. Now, with regular forays into the world of adults, I feel I have rediscovered some part of myself I hadn't realized I had lost.

It is too soon to tell how it will all work out. I am pretty sure that I will have days when I hate and dread going to work, and days when I find parenting to be the hardest job of all. But if I'm as comfortable now as I am with my decision, it must be because I'm on the right path after all.


meera said...

i hope that things settle out for you at work. i'm very heartened to read that you feel comfortable with your decision - makes me feel like the same is possible for me when i go back to work three days a week in september.

i've finally found a daycare that i feel happy with - and can actually imagine going back to work. a couple months ago, when i first started to look and found the process to be impossibly depressing, i read your post about calling your boss and looking forward to going back to work - and then i read older posts where you seemed as confused about the whole childcare thing as i was feeling. made me feel so much better to realize that things falling into place was a possibility. so, thanks for that.

Mom in France said...

Yay! Good for you! I'm glad that you feel good about returning to work (despite the project disruption).

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

Meera: I think it is normal to feel ambivalent about going back, and as my posts over the last months reflect, I've gone back and forth a lot. But I think that if you have a day care that you feel comfortable with, and if your only going back to work part time, I think things may fall into place more easily than you think... or at least that's what I'm finding.

I had a really wonderful day today with le Petit, and I'm so glad I decided to go back four days a week and take Wednesdays off.

But I still feel that it is nice, for me at least, to get a few days "off" a week back to my old pre-Mommy identity.

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

your = you're

My brain is telling me that it is time for bed, I think.