I quit my job Monday.

I don’t know why I’m writing about this. I’ve been taking a hiatus from writing, mainly other stress and fear of writing less than mediocre content, and I don’t want to write only my mental illness or negative things… Nevertheless, here I am, writing about my current situation like this is my diary. Ironic.

This ended up stupid long though, sorry about that. I think we see these numbers on the news of people being unemployed with COVID-19 but it hits different when it’s you. It was therapeutic to write about my career and personal life, which is probably why it’s so lengthy. You can skip the mushy parts by scrolling through to almost the bottom and starting at the asterisk (*) and there’s a TL;DR at the bottom, because I get it. No hard feelings, homie.

I’ve been at the [company] for 6 years and change. I started at this company as a nervous 20 year old (seriously my first employee picture was taken on my 20th birthday). I grew up with this company, my mother works for this same company, in the same center I started in. I grew up listening to my mom work. I grew up helping her prepare and plan celebrations and client visits. This company felt like home to me. Some colleagues became my patchwork family. I met my husband because of my work family. My old supervisor is my brother in law. My sister met her husband at this company. There are people who work for this company that have known me since I was 8 years old, and even after many retire or move on, they are still my family. I will always have love for them.

I started this career of mine with the energy of a single 20 year old whose single minded objective was to make my team and boss(es) proud. I did a lot of that, and I made mistakes, and I learned how to do better, how to apologize and have Crucial Conversations. I grew into a stage 2 young adult. Of course dynamics change as you change. After 2 years I wanted more. As it became my own career that I was truly taking the reigns on (and the jump!) I applied for a higher position went to another campus. I worked my tail end off to prove myself and learn everything I could get my hands on. Which was a lot, the company offered a plethora of products and technology is booming! I won’t go into details because the first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.

I spent 3 lovely years in a wonderful group at the new campus. I got married and had my first ever child. All of which they celebrated with me. I made friends, lost friends, remade some, and burned bridges with others. I lost a lot of family in those three years and I was reminded of loss. I lost what relationship I did have with my father in those 3 years. The strong, God fearing, women on that team always offered support when needed while I picked up the pieces of my breakdown. While the guys on our team offered their point of view and helped me keep my wits about me, too. They prayed with me, for me. They all came to my wedding and celebrated my happiness as their own. They jumped up and down when I announced I was pregnant. They were just as excited as I was on ultrasound days. They got that beautiful look in their eyes when they met my son face to face. They got that same look every time they saw him, actually. They shined with pride when I found my passion on that team (chip card!) and I learned it, then I taught it to anyone who wanted it. I found family in an unexpected place! I grew into a stage 1 adult with these people.

After coming back from maternity leave and finally settling into a groove (about 3 months), I was notified that I was being moved to a new team in the technology side of my division. Talk about the opportunity of a life time because I was planning on applying for said position after taking more training.

I don’t know if I can adequately explain the emotions I felt about this new position. I was sad at the thought of moving to a new team much like new school jitters. But I knew I was ready for more and I knew I wanted to move towards technology. The old me, the childless me, that got plenty of sleep, she was doing the Rocky style celebration. Then there’s the new me, who is on no medication at all (ADHD), new mom, still breastfeeding, sleep deprived, can’t have too much caffeine because it gives my kid gas that keeps him up screaming until 4 am. This new me questioned if I could even do this. I can’t think straight often (ADHD) and I need to learn a whole new job, which requires adequate attention and concentration. But I can’t turn it down. (figuratively and literally, my group was for a legacy system that was fading away soon).

I went back and forth and eventually just said I’d do the very best that I can. I’ll be honest and open in communication. Failure is not an option. And most importantly, I was excited!

I was suddenly in the position of learning all new things on the fly while dealing with mom brain. I was a new me that I’d never had to work with before. My hormones had changed, my ADHD had even changed, anxiety and depression symptoms had mostly disappeared after postpartum. Not to mention, I’m a new mom, every thing that goes wrong with my kid is for the first time ever and I tell you! That first year is terrifying. First fevers, sicknesses, teeth, injuries. All while still trying to maintain a milk supply because I swore I’d make it to a year!!!! So I’m planning pumping sessions around meetings and trying to not stray from a schedule too much because, well, supply and demand. Have you ever experienced that deadly silence after your breast pump makes its presence known on a conference call?

I learned my new team, though. Talk about amazing people. Seriously, that is my greatest sadness, I will miss them dearly. I’ve never seen people weave together and cover the gaps the way my teammates did. Even with their own hair on fire they made sure to pat out your flames. The new job was a lot to learn. I mean a lot. And it was stressful. The all hands on deck in the blink of an eye, you better know who to call, not it’s not ghostbusters, please don’t leave me on this call alone yet, kind of stress. In the midst of this chaos I met some of the strongest, most caring, and hardworking people in my life. I’ve never laughed so hard or learned so much. If I were going to walk thru hell, I’d want them on my team.

I started to figure it out. I started to feel confident I knew the bulk of what I was doing. I found the rhythm and I was finally dancing to it. I was even enjoying the dance. It took 8-9months but I found my groove.

Then COVID -19 hit. (Record scratch) The daycare centers closed up, the campuses closed up. We all transitioned to working from home and taking care of our children by March 15th.

It sounds easy enough when you say it out loud. “I’m working from home with my toddler”. Pleasing for short conversation, simple answer. But if we weren’t socially distant, you’d see the barely contained chaos in their eyes. Fear, guilt, stress stress stress, feeling overwhelmed, and at many points, despair.

At least that was the case for me. That’s why I’m here, writing this blog bit about quitting my job. Because I had to quit the day before yesterday.

I juggled the weight of being mom, cook, maid, teacher, AND employee. I juggled it all through anxiety and increasing panic attacks. Crying episodes. Depression. Weight loss from the stress (I lost 50 lbs in 4 months). Then, came the suicidal thoughts that were my line in the sand. They became too loud and I had finally had enough.

I took 3 weeks off. I felt human after 3 weeks off. I could breathe. Anxiety stopped about 1/2 way through. I felt sane again, so I started work again. I tried to find routines and schedules that would work for my job and my toddler. None of them worked, the two subjects were both too variable in nature. Something always came up that I just couldn’t settle. I could get a handle for 3 days then everything would crumble. I would rebuild stability when my husband was home. But that meant no downtime for me, so I couldn’t always do that, but I also couldn’t just not do my job. I think I lasted another 2 weeks before it got to scary town for my mental health. I found myself in the bathroom looking up the suicide prevention hotline. I took more time off. I did a sad little Hmph sound celebrating my year mark in the group (June).

I want to insert a note here that deserves its very own spot. Because I’m mushy and I believe in calling people out for greatness. If you want to know what a positive workplace feels like check out my team: My boss and Director? Totally get it, wish they could do more than they already were to help me. I was nervous both times I had to tell my boss, and both times he was gracious, sympathetic, and genuinely concerned about my physical and mental health. Then my official but unofficial team leader (how else do you explain the person who has answers for *all the things* and rally’s the group after acknowledging our complaints?) called me and told me not to feel bad for taking time off. He heard me say it before and couldn’t stand the idea of me beating myself up about it. I was reminded we are a family, and we always had each other’s backs. Period. 🤯 I cried after that conversation. When you feel like everything in your life that you are responsible for is going to shit by your hand, (not to mention they are taking on ALL OF MY WORKLOAD) and you get this instead…. I cried. I was humbled beyond words. They were far kinder to me than I was to myself. I have great role models, and that alone is worth its weight in gold.

*

I communicated I would not be returning until our daycare reopened. The daycare still hasn’t reopened. As a parent I question if sending my toddler to daycare would even be a safe decision to make with COVID-19 in America. We don’t have a safe plan against this virus yet. I used all the time the company offered and all the time I had saved up to hold out and pray for another answer. Which brought me to Monday. The day before yesterday. After planning all possible outcomes, weighing the risks, and taking our blessings into consideration, these facts remain: I cannot physically nor mentally juggle the tasks of my child, home, and my career while maintaining my mental health. My child needs a mother. My toddler is too dependent on me. The daycare is closed for the foreseeable future. COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, I’m out of time, and my teammates deserve support and someone who can be there to offer them the quality of work they deserve.

It’s still unreal for me that after 6 years I will not be an employee of [company]. It was a large part of my identity, a large part of my life and development. But I do know the lessons I have learned from the people in this company are priceless, and they will always go with me. I learned just how strong I am, just how smart I am, and how much more I am in both with the right team. This company has taught me to plan for change, be open to many points of view, learn everything you can, and never think that what you do is too small. Change starts with you.

I don’t know where I’m going from here. I have a few long term goals/plans. But for now, I’m going to stop living in limbo and I’m going to go outside and play with my son. Amongst a host of chores and errands. Those can wait for now, though.

TL;DR : it wasn’t anyone’s fault, no one is to blame, but I quit my job the day before yesterday. After spending 6+ years building my career and meeting some of the finest people in my life. I’m sad and I’m mourning. I learned a lot there and I grew into the person I am because of that place and its people. But I’m going to use this time with my child and enjoy this stage. I’m going to take the time to figure out my passions. I’m scared and there’s a hint of excitement to see who I will be 6 years from now.

Finding healthy middle ground as a working mom. Within a year. (A rant)

It’s a lot harder than I could have ever imagined.

I get angry thinking about having to go back to work 6-8 weeks after having a baby (8 weeks if you have a MAJOR surgery like a C-Section). 6 to 8 weeks to bond with my new child. 6-8 weeks to establish a breast feeding routine. 6-8 weeks to introduce everyone in my life to my baby. But not too close because GERMS! (Do we even want to bring up postpartum depression or anxiety? PPA almost killed me) 6-8 weeks to heal from the trauma my body endured during child birth, 6-8 weeks for painful, chapped nipples to heal. 6-8 weeks to jump back into the workforce like nothing happened. But something monumental happened.

I feel guilty when I have to take a PDO day when my child is sick and my work team has to carry my load.

I feel guilty when I go pump 2-3X a day to maintain my supply. It interferes with my workflow and rhythm, or I have too much I need to get done today.. So I drop down to 1-2X a day and watch my supply bottom out more times than not.

I feel guilty for PTO, parent teacher conferences, having to stop by the daycare every 4 hours to pump my baby full of Tylenol so that fever doesn’t breach 100°F and inevitably causes him to be sent home. If we get sent home, how in the world will I ever catch up?

I feel guilty that my quality standards at work have to be modified to fit this new life. I had to learn a whole new job a few months after I came back from leave. I want to do well, but I am not the person I was when I left. And this job includes over time and on call that my last job did not. Do you understand the fear of being on a call at 8 pm that requires interaction and total engagement when that is bed time and you are the boob??

I couldn’t take the medications I need to concentrate at work, my work quality was at an all time low… was I going to lose my job because I have to choose between breastfeeding and taking medication for my ADHD, anxiety, or depression?

I have to find a middle ground, but I can’t take choosing my job over my child.

Life would have been so different if America had followed Canada, Norway, Denmark, honestly the list goes on and on for these other countries who seem to actually accept and care for their mothers and children.

I want to be a badass employee. I want to make our company’s name shine and shimmer with greatness.

I want to be a badass mom who isn’t empty at the end of every day from stretching too thin.

I want to be mentally healthy and have time to see a therapist!!!!! But at this point in my life, I’m doing good to get in and see a dentist.

I want to have and interact in my friendships outside of the workplace. But I spend most of my time in the 4 walls of my cubicle. When I’m out, I have 2.5 hours after 5:30 pm to pick up from daycare, get home (30 min drive), dinner??, bath, bedtime, get bottles ready for tomorrow, maybe sneak in a kiss to my husband.

The guilt I feel about being a bad wife and a bad friend… those have been getting to me lately.

Then I remember I haven’t had a shower in 3 days. The smell is me. (So embarrassing!)

Weekends are nice, but I want to do more with them, but also less because I am so tired and need down time.

Shit, the dogs! The cats! They need to see the vet. I need to refill their preventatives. Am I spending enough time with them? Or are they just hostages here?

How do we navigate this terrain??

I know this is not a new territory at all, and mothers have been kicking ass and taking names long before me.

Maybe it’s just me that can’t figure it out.

Maybe I’m in the wrong profession, but I can’t afford to quit my job and go back to school. And I certainly don’t have the time in between work and mommyhood.

My days are flashing before my eyes. Time has never moved so fast in my entire life. I don’t want to miss these days. I don’t want to miss the smallness of my child, he is already growing up so quickly.

Maybe it will get better in time.

Maybe I will get better in time.

Ps… I want to thank my husband who is one of my biggest supporters. I don’t want to ever diminish or minimize the work and effort he puts into supporting me and helping me. I would not have made it to today without him busting his ass. Thank you X 1,000,000.

Pps… thank you to all of the moms before me, and around me, for busting your ass creating something great when nobody could see. It’s a thankless job and you are a saint.

Paranoia or Intuition

I’m tired

Of begging

Pleading

Pulling and pushing

Tearing and digging

Is what I’m feeling paranoia or intuition?

Is my brain telling me something my heart doesn’t want to accept?

Or is my brain sabotaging my heart?

Do I ignore this

Shut the door on these anxieties

Or do I dive into this desolation

It’s horrible not knowing if I can even trust my own feelings.

The many faces of Me

I get so caught up in “Who am I” when people look at me

Am I kind or too harsh

Am I a bully or the protector

Big heart or narrow view

Helpful or harmful

Immature or mature

Stupid or smart

It took today to realize I am all of these things.

I am all of these things collectively, simultaneously.

People see me in their own view, dependent upon where they are and how each of us understood it. The old saying of perception is reality.

Yeah it too a long time to get to the me I am today.

I look back and identify the racism, the ignorance, immaturity…. and the growth.

I have grown up and away from the old me.

And I still have so much to do in the Garden of Me. I recognize growing pains for what they are when they make me uncomfortable. I recognize and cherish my roots, and I have to rip out the weeds at their roots. Things I use to think were true and I acknowledge the pain they’ve cause.

If you knew me in one of my many Faces that were immature or hurtful, I am so sorry. Please reach out to me so I can grow if you need to talk about it. I’m still learning and growing. “Gardening”.

I’m trying. And that’s what matters.

The Perfect Moment

I’m sitting in my perfect moment

It’s truly the perfect morning

We, as a family, awoke and rose together

A fire was built to fight the cold

Your little eyes looked at me from bundled blankets on my chest

You drifted off to sleep in my arms as the sun rose

Then it dawned on me

These perfect moments cannot be orchestrated-

They can only be enjoyed

A short for my unborn son

Little Warren, I have gone from astonishment at feeling your first fluttering movements, fears of my ability, fears of the day you leave my belly, and shifting to suddenly feeling you kick my diaphragm with the strength of a pro soccer player. And I wonder who you will be. Will you be the calm consistent love like your father? With his hilarious sense of humor? Will you show blazing passion in your eyes like your mama? Will you share our determination? And undoubtedly push our limits? I just can’t wait to meet you and get to know your personality. I can’t want to get my hands on you! I look forward to the sleepless nights everyone insists on warning me of. I look forward to arguing with a relentless terrorist of a toddler and then a know-it-all teenager.

We are at 32 weeks and 3 days. And I am getting so impatient to meet you 😂 one day I’ll regret that I’m sure. But I can’t help it. You’ve already stolen my heart.

What we don’t talk about to first time mama’s

Well now that I have announced the big news to my family I can finally share it with you fine people!!

I’m going to be a mama! Due January 9th (ish)!

But I want to talk to you first time parents about the things I feel like weren’t brought to my attention until after they happened.

I have always felt like the more knowledge you have the more prepared you are for the things you may have to deal with.

We have all heard that pregnancy hormones are a thing. If you haven’t well let me in on a little secret- it’s intense.

Not all women will go through it like I have, but every article and book I’ve read has told me it will be like PMS. and it has been SO much more than PMS. It is far more comparable to adolescent changes than it is to my PMS.

For example, someone accused me of taking a DVD that I did not take (yes… a DVD) and it broke my heart. I cried for an hour. Then I got over it and then I cried some more. I was convinced that person did not love me.

As I stated it is intense.

With this in mind I felt so much guilt. Guilt for not being happy all the time. I mean I had prayed for this miracle for over a year and I had finally finally finally been gifted with this bundle of joy growing inside of me… how dare I feel anything except gratitude?

And mama/Papa I promise there are good feelings that come with this package deal! There is so much wonder, gratitude, humbleness, pride, and excitement. And fear but like good fear. It’s hard to put into words.

Mama, I want you to know that you will fear the days you don’t have morning sickness or sensitivity (is the baby ok? Is something wrong? Will there still be a heartbeat?) this is normal. I had a hard time finding this in any books but I promise you aren’t going crazy. Well maybe just a little bit, but no more than necessary. Only 7/10 women experience “morning” sickness. Even less experience it to the extent I have and even less experience it to the extent I’ve read other women have. It’s ok though.. it’s ok if you throw up thinking about food and it’s ok if you never get sick. Talk to your OB.

On that note- don’t take it personally if your OB doesn’t know a lick about mental health issues. Seriously, mine is a WONDERFUL OB and when I asked what to do if I experience anxiety attacks and deep depression, the man told me to lower my standards and remember I can’t do as much as I could when I wasn’t pregnant. Great advice for those who don’t have mental health issues, but for the rest of us I would suggest keeping your therapist and psychiatrist appointments. While there isn’t much they can give you on the medicine side, they CAN still help you.

Mama if you feel suicidal I beg you to talk about it with your doctor(s). Don’t judge yourself for it because all you are doing is beating that dead horse. You are going to take things personal. You are going to know your feelings aren’t logical and that won’t do a damn thing to stop them. You will feel rage… yes rage. And that’s ok. As long as you keep an open line of communication with the people who are around you, you will be ok.

And there are going to be people who will put their blinders on and will act rather selfishly towards you. They will not take your emotional state into consideration. They will say the absolute wrong things at the absolute wrong time. They will hurt your feelings, break your heart. And you will cry. You are going to cry a lot so get use to that.

Men/Papa- I have no advice for you except guard your words like you would your life in a hostage situation. She will be looking for victims. Don’t be one. And if you do fall prey to the mama emotions- never fear, it will pass in 15-60 minutes. And she will not know why she was so emotional (unless you really hurt her, because I promise she will not forget).

You two can either let this make you better or let it make you bitter.

Just remember that whatever your case, it is you (or you two) against the problem- not against each other.

Let this roller coaster bring the two of you together, and try to remember to enjoy the ride.

Much love & be kind always ❤️ -Chelsee

An Open Letter to My Younger Self

Maybe I’m all up in my feelings but I just want to say something for the younger girls out there struggling.

Struggling with identity, struggling with faith and strength, feeling defeated and used. Wanting (and maybe even planning) to give up.

I was you. I was you a million times over. And it’s hard. God I know it’s hard. This world will shatter you a thousand times before your feet even hit the floor in the morning. It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. It will wear you down and wear you out. It will break you. You will question who you are 1 trillion times before you hit 20 years old. You’ll look in the mirror and not recognize who is looking back at you.

All the while you are just putting one foot in front of the other.

Listen here beautiful- I’m so dang proud of you. I’m so proud of you! You woke up and fought the demons that wore you out the night before. You woke up and DECIDED to truck on when all you saw was bleak and grey. You decided to continue on when it would have been so much easier to just—stop being.

I’m so glad you are here on this earth today.

Because one day, if you keep fighting- and I do mean FIGHTING tooth and fucking nail fighting you will make it. You will wake up one day and you will have everything you prayed for. (Ok sure I’m not a millionaire but BOY AM I RICH!) I wake up to a man that loves me- and I mean the kind of love you gave up on when you were about 14-17 because yeah boys are stupid. This man is a God fearing man that would jump in front of a bullet to save my life- this I know without question. And I’d be pissed at him for doing it because that would mean he was quicker than me and I didn’t get to save HIM.

This man will choose you day after day and will love you when you can’t even love yourself. And will be your friend when you can’t even be friendly to yourself. Then this man will become a father and you will see that hope in his eye and you will share this unexplainable feeling of terror and excitement and love for the life growing within you (or someone else- adopting, surrogacy, whatever). Life will change and you will realize you made it.

And you realize this whole new chapter is coming and it’s going to push you further than you’ve ever been pushed and further than you can even grasp. And you will smile because you know that if you made it through the first part of your life (rather alone) you can absolutely break the barriers on this next chapter. Don’t you dare settle. Stop judging yourself for how you had to survive. You are so beautifully and uniquely made. You will make it gorgeous… you gotta know that.

Much love- Chelsee

If I could go Back

If I could go back in time..

I’ve been thinking about all the mistakes I’ve made and all the ones I’m going to make.

And there is one thing that has become blatantly obvious: it’s the small things.

I would change only small things-

  • Listen to your mom for the love of everything HOLY! She’s the only one who has your back.
  • Stop fighting with your sister. She is also one of the 3 people who truly has your best interests in mind.
  • Hold on to that knowledge of coding from making your MySpace page fly. You can literally make bank knowing this stuff at a young age.
  • Don’t start smoking. (No, seriously. Don’t. )
  • Enjoy your summers, after high school they are gone and you will realize how magical they really were.
  • You don’t have to kill yourself at work at 16 yrs old. It’s ok to borrow money from Mom.
  • Stop taking life so dang seriously
  • Not one drop of your self worth is dependent upon someone else!!
  • And finally- say yes ma’am/sir and I love you and I’m sorry. These things are important

Notice how I haven’t listed a single life changing event? I realized that I needed those to become who I am. Even though many of them were ugly, heart breaking, soul shattering events. I wouldn’t change any of them. Not one.

I’m proud of who I have become. And I firmly believe you have to be knocked on your ass to appreciate the dirt under your nails and the shiny thing(s) you accomplished.

It took those rock bottoms to truly accept that God is my rock at the bottom. And it took those rock bottoms to mold me into the hurricane of a woman I am today.

I regret none of them.

You shouldn’t either.

Love to you all!! Be kind always! – Chelsee