The one thing about life is that nothing ever stays the same for very long. If that premise is accepted, almost anything is tolerable as long as there is hope. For me it was about 10 months ago that I was laid off from my other job as an IT Manager which led me to months of uncertainty and some anxiety, but it also gave me the invaluable opportunity to spend time with my daughter and bond with her.
When I was first laid off, Kathryn was definitely Mommy's little girl and was inseparable from Katie. But as time passed she was more used to me being able to help her and after awhile we settled into routines that made her comfortable. We played together, watched "Curious George" and "Sesame Street" and it was the most awesome time. Life is about perspective and I could have sat and fretted, but I chose to use the opportunity to learn about Kathryn and enjoy our time together.
Don't get me wrong. I was elated to finally find a job. It was a drag to not be able to contribute to a company and to work although I was able to study and practice my IT skills. I also learned that interviewing at 42 isn't as easy as it was at 22.
Twenty years ago, I was the typical cocky IT guy that just wanted a cool position. I loved to travel and spent two years doing just that. But as most road warriors will tell you, it gets old quickly so as I matured I also was more interested in finding a place to work and not have to worry about being given 24 hours notice that I would have to travel halfway across the country.
Now I find that in my latest job search, I'm more interested in jobs that match my values, are stable and secure. Fortunately I did find a position that will keep me busy and for the first time in years, I am really happy going to work and we do something that makes people happy. That makes me feel good, but it was hard.
Most people would give their eye teeth for a long vacation, but I found that the first few days of work after such a forced respite was actually difficult. While I slipped into the rhythm after a few days, those first ones were the most difficult. I can see why some people just succumb to not working as long as possible, but my work ethic and my desire to stand on my own and be as successful as possible far overrides any desire to be permanently on vacation.
Believe it or not, if I was to win a lottery of have some kind of outstanding luck, it would probably be hard after a while to not work somewhere doing something. As Katie put it, we lived through nine months of eternal Saturday. Every day was like a weekend. It was hard to track time and even harder to be productive continually. It was easier to just procrastinate, and most people who know me will say procrastination is probably a character flaw of mine sometimes.
The worst part though was having to help Kathryn relearn the old routine. I waited until a few days before I started and sat down with her and told her Daddy was going back to work. Apparently Daddy was more concerned about leaving Kathryn, then Kathryn was about Daddy leaving. In fact she sat there for a second looking at me with those beautiful blue eyes. I waited to hear her protest, but when her little mouth opened she said, "Ok. Let's play outside."
Talk about humbling one's ego. I realized in that instant that it wasn't Kathryn who was going to miss Daddy, it was Daddy who was going to miss Kathryn. All Kathryn was thinking about missing was the few remaining hours of sunlight.
Someone once told me, maybe my mother or my great aunt, that children are versatile and Kathryn proved the concept. The night before my first day soon arrived and as we said good night, I reminded her that I was going to work the next day. I said, "Will you miss me?" hoping to hear a "I love you Daddy. I will miss you."
Instead, I heard "Goodnight Daddy. Mommy tuck me in." And that was it. My nine month Saturday was reduced to what appeared to be a regular two day weekend. Kathryn didn't miss a beat and seemed to take it all in stride.
Believe it or not, I'm actually happy about that since I'm usually the opposite. Monty Python once wrote a song called "I'm So Worried" that has lyrics like "I'm so worried about the shows on TV that sometimes they want to repeat" and "I'm so worried about everything that could go wrong, I'm so worried about whether people will like this song". That song captures my default mood sometimes. I've gotten better but I have my days.
So my circuitous journey through pre-mature retirement is over for now, and I realized that when I finally do retire if and when I'm fortunate enough, I know the first thing I'm probably going to do. Find a job.
Til next time…