Two Fridays ago – April 24th, 2020 – I got an invite on my office email that simply said, “catch up call with Katy” and then an HR person I had never even heard of let me know that my position had been eliminated and my last day would be April 30th. She gave me the severance talk and the benefits mumbo jumbo and yes, I am one of the lucky ones to have certain things provided instead of just being cut off.
18 years over and done in a matter of minutes. No goodbyes, no clearing out of my desk, no marking of this time, no ceremony, no pomp, no circumstance.
My sweet husband sat there with me as we took that call on speaker and he held me afterwards as I was just in shock after so much time. I was so nervous for so long that it might happen but when it did it happened so fast that I wasn’t ready but also, kind of relieved?
I called my parents and we swore and cried. Same with my Boss and a couple of my closest friends. I’ve never in my life had conversations like these in those first couple days. I still can barely talk about it, which is why I’m writing this so I don’t have to keep having this conversation.
My kids were so sweet and sad for me they just kept hugging me. I had to keep telling them that I didn’t do anything wrong, it’s because of this sickness and the craziness of the world right now that so many people are losing their jobs and it’s terrible, but it will be ok somehow, we just don’t know quite what that looks like yet.
The next couple days I spent transferring all the info I would need from my work laptop to my old personal computer at home. I’ve had a work computer a LONG time so that was quite a task. Then I had a conversation with the woman who would be taking over my work. I didn’t have to do that. My boss said I didn’t have to do that. But I did it because it’s who I am to not let something just crash and burn if I can help it. My husband came and gave me a big hug and told me how proud he was of me overhearing that conversation. When I say that Michelle Obama’s “when they go low, we go high” quote inspires me daily, I mean it.
I just cannot believe that for so many of us, THIS is how it ends.
Some 18 years ago, fresh from getting sober in 2001, I was hired as a receptionist. I felt very fortunate indeed as this was after 9/11 and nobody was hiring. Eerily familiar. I’ve written of how I was lucky to be there at that time and to be given a chance. I worked my tail off through the years and proved my worth over and over again. I got promoted. I got married, went through IVF, had twins, bought a home, raised my twins to 7 years old, worked from home, stayed sober, and balanced it all. As well as any of us women can balance all of this – I’d say I did a pretty damn good job.
But now it is time for a change. And my god, I do know that I am not the only one this is happening to. I have perspective and I have great big gratitude, but good lord, I still get to grieve. I know people are fighting for their lives. For their businesses, for their homes, for their families. I know this. But I still need to take a moment and grieve this. So many firsts and lasts happened while I was in this job. So many people came and went and we had a lot of fun. It was grueling and tiresome and nonsense was everywhere, but it was for the most part very good to me.
Many of you will wonder, what about Boss? Well, he had nothing to do with this. This was above his head and I don’t hold him responsible for any of this. I often wonder what is worse, to be let go to or to be left behind? He remains. I don’t know what will happen but I do know we are each other’s people. We always will be. He is one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever known in my whole life and I am grateful to him in ways that he’ll never even know. I know he feels exactly the same about me.
But it is time for me to move on. Not today, because today I get to breathe in my children and have a Mother’s Day but when I do pick myself up I get to figure out what comes next. I can do all kinds of things. Just because I’ve been doing this one thing for all these years doesn’t mean that’s all I can do. That’s rather exhilarating isn’t it? Whenever I thought of leaving and trying something else, I was too scared to do it. But when it is thrust upon me, I feel my heart pounding both in fear and in excitement of what is to come.
Some of the very best moments and moves of my life have come from the darkest most unsure times, and I’m sure this will be no different. I believe that.
I’ve been working as long as I’ve been an adult with a couple breaks in there for active alcoholism and maternity leave, but you know, basically WORKING FOREVER. So this is, um, odd. But let me tell you how good it felt to delete almost 20 years of emails. Just delete them! POOF. I’ve not had a time where I wasn’t obsessively checking my phone or thinking of what was waiting for me when I logged on in the morning in just about ever. So this is NEW.
Fear of the unknown is something we are all experiencing right now. If I hear, “we are all in this together” one more time, I may puke because we are certainly not ALL in this together in sameness because the inequity is GLARING, however, in this respect, we really are in this together in that we just don’t know what comes next. How this will all play out. And so I try to focus on the minutiae instead of the long game, which is what I am good at anyway. This day, this moment. If I feel sad, I cry. If I feel enormous gratitude for my people and how fortunate I am, I cry. If my kids or husband make me roar with laughter, I ride that wave as hard as I can. If I can help someone in some way, I do it. I am trying to feel all these feelings.
So I mourn the years, months, days, hours spent commuting to and from the Sears Tower (SEARS TOWER FOREVER) and will miss the elevator dancing. But honestly, they remodeled the building and that’s been different for years anyway. Also, my boss and I rarely worked in the office these days anyway. I will mourn the camaraderie with co-workers that I truly really enjoyed. I won’t miss some of the actual work that wasn’t fulfilling but the lifestyle and the payoff was good.
That job gave me the stability I needed when I needed it most. I learned to suit up and show up and I just kept doing it as I built myself a life beyond my wildest dreams.
What is most important? I spent a lot of time being afraid of changing what it is I actually do every day, but now it is unavoidable. How can I use my gifts? How can I leverage what I do with what I am worth and make that work – especially in this economy? I do not know the answers. I do know I need to and want to work in some capacity and that I shall do. I am not above much, I’ll tell you that. I’ve done it all and can do it again if necessary. If I can put this out into the universe, I’d love to work with other moms and specifically moms in recovery. In some capacity. Or in a library. Or with animals. Those are my dreams.
Thanks for being here and walking through it all with me. We’ve been together a long time, haven’t we? I’m excited for what’s next, terrified, but also excited. Let’s keep holding each other close, ok? We’ve got a long road ahead and we need each other.
We are constantly surprising ourselves with what we can do and it’s extraordinary. Hell, I never thought I could be a teacher, but here we are.
On this Mother’s Day, I want to say I’m thankful for the sisterhood and the motherhood and the ever expanding power of elastic pants. There are so many heroes right now I don’t know who to focus on. When we stop focusing on the assholes and the lies and the stupidity, there is hope and generosity and opportunity and goodness. There is. I STILL have buckets full of hope. STILL. For your recovery, for your quitting ( I am two and a half full months off my e-cigarette, can you believe that?), for your family journey, for your career, for your purpose, for your connection with other human beings and fur babies. I have SO MUCH HOPE.
I’ve lived through much darkness before and I know that the light feels so much sweeter when I keep going. I know that I wouldn’t have these bright lights in my life if I hadn’t lived in such darkness. I know that. I mean, break down and indulge and weep and swear and yell and all that, but just get back up. This is a long long long long ride. I need to know you’re out there. I need to hear from you and I’ll shout back at you. Reach out.
My foolish heart believes that we will come out of this with new resilience and less tolerance for bullshit. We will carry on our shoulders a new resolve for what is important and what is fluff. We will stop pressuring to do more be more produce more work out more blah blah blah. We will encourage social and emotional and mental well being more than ever. In short, we will grant more grace to ourselves and each other. And we will also make less fun of each other for what we like and what we love because MY GOD we all just need to keep going. My link to my instagram is below and a lot of my likes and loves and kid and cat and selfie pics show up there.
Happy Mother’s Day. I love you. The joy of my life has been becoming and being their mama. I get to love my kids so well because my mama has loved me so well. Oh how I love you and believe in the very best parts of you and me. Thank you for raising these amazing incredible kids that will soon be in charge of all of us and OH MY GOD they will kick so much ass. Because of you and the way you raised them to be strong and not just accept what is as the the only way. Because you teach them to stand up for themselves and others who need help. Because you teach them to lead with love but not take any bullshit. Oh these kids are just awesome. I’m so so grateful I get to be their mom. And together with all your kids, THE WORLD WILL BE SO BRIGHT. Our jobs are far from over and we are doing the hard work ever damn day to make sure the world they inherit isn’t on fire. We are fire fighters! FIRE FIGHTERS AND TEACHERS! We didn’t sign on for this, but what do moms ever really sign on for, right? We just do it. I’ll be over here crying my eyes out and remaining as grateful as I can possibly be. KICK ALL THE ASS, MAMAS. And fall back into love because you are so so so very loved. I love you, I love you, I love you.
Hey follow me on social media! My two favs are: