The pained and phony “Good morning, welcome back from vacation” and “Can you come see me in 15 minutes?” The silent walk to the big boss’ office, blank notepad in hand to look official in case I need to take notes. The surface small-talk about my allergies. The way no one really looks into my eyes. The 1 minute overview of how they are sure I’m aware of the Company’s plans this year to restructure, re-engineer, streamline. The 10 cent, blue, impersonal folder with a neatly printed label bearing my name and job band level.
The quick spiel and the “I know this is a lot to digest, you can take a few minutes before we move on”, as tissues are handed my way.
Job displacement. Job elimination. Laid-off. Thirty days notice. “And here’s an entire packet on your options and your severance package, should you wish to make the decision to leave the Company”. I officially join the ranks of the jobless.
The tears spring – because the other option was nervous laughter – and I make some silly comment about how I haven’t really cried in months and this is so good for me to release. I’m partially shocked at the timing of it all, and partially pissed off that they would do this to an already-emotional pregnant woman. Mostly I am glad the tears are flowing because, inside, I really just want to bust out in a huge-ass grin and double over in giggles and disbelief. They hadn’t known I’d planned on giving my official notice shortly. And now, with their grand scheme, I’d be getting a nice little severance package on top of it. “Paid to leave”, I think. I like the idea.
My boss’s voice is incredibly steady, peaceful even…without a shred of emotion. I don’t really hear a word she’s saying; I just notice her slow, rhythmic speech. It is almost hypnotic. Suddenly, in the middle of all the bullshit flowing from her mouth, I have a flashback from my labor with Kaia and how the voices of my birth team – midwife and apprentices and husband – sounded similar. Their words and tones lulled and calmed me and became my song. Though I didn’t always focus on what they were saying, I felt safe just hearing the harmony of their voices in those moments.
But my boss is definitely not my midwife and I’m most certainly not in labor. Finally, they tell me I don’t have to make a decision anytime soon and that I am free to go home today to think and rest.
I collect my purse and my water, and cry most of the way out of the building. I cry in my car as I call my husband and friend to spill the news. I want to see my baby girl. I want to be home. I cannot figure out why I am so emotional. I had been waiting anxiously to give my notice, planning for a year to quit work and stay at home with my girl. Luckily, though finances would be tighter, we had found ways to make them work in our favor. We felt comfortable with the decision. But timing had been crazy, we’d been in the middle of trying to get a construction loan, and I had wanted to work just a bit longer so that my income could be verified.
I felt an immense relief, a lifting of weight; I also felt that this decision could jeopardize our ability to close on a loan. I felt angry that it hadn’t been ME making the decision. I felt resentful that they could even consider doing this to a pregnant woman, though I could care less that it was me. I just didn’t like the idea that it could have been another pregnant mama, perhaps in a very different situation than I. What would she have done? How would she have coped – emotionally, financially? I felt sad for the baby growing in this imagined woman’s belly, and I also think of mine. After working for the company almost 10 years, I felt rejected and used. I’d never been fired nor asked to leave a job. I felt instantly like a disappointment.
I explained all of these emotions to my friends, many of which sympathized and said “I know what you mean: it’s like when you are going to break up with a guy but he does it first! It’s not supposed to happen that way!” Yes, the control was out of my hands now. And in many ways, I was glad to give it up, sick of steering and pulling and trying to keep everything on track. Indeed, I was more than sick of trying to fit into the mold of Corporate America when all I really want to do is watch my grubby little perfect girl grow up, birth another baby into my hands, sit at home braless to blog and eat chocolate…and bear witness to other babies entering the world.
This all happened on Thursday. On Monday, I give official notice that I’ll be accepting the severance package. For four weeks, I will then sit around in the grey walled space of my cubicle and begin cleaning out the 10 years of history within the cabinets and drawers. I have already begun to formulate goodbye letters in my mind, of course throwing in a little advertisement for my doula services. And I envision the moment I walk out the doors forever. I have dreamed of that moment for many years. I seriously wish soundtrack music could play in the background as I sashay out into the Spring desert sun that day.
All is well. Jason and I have surrendered to the news and are excited about the future. The universe is wise. She swooped in to intervene, providing me with a little surprise ending to my years of work and drudgery in Corporate America. I while it’s not a ton to write home about, I certainly don’t mind the little dollar signs attached to that ending either.