Sunday, April 29, 2012

Identity Crisis

When a person makes a major life change, there is an often unexpected phenomenon that occurs. The identity crisis. The surprise is not in that it occurs but in that we are caught by surprise at all. After all... Isn't this what a major life change means? Changing our identity?

Still, the feeling of emptiness is overwhelming. As I left the building yesterday, I had nothing hanging over my head from work. I had shredded every personnel document in my files. I cleaned out my email of any pending work. I even left my grad school text books on the shelf in my office for my successor to deal with. As I left, there was no doubt that I was no longer a librarian.

No. Longer. A. Librarian.

I have been a librarian for about twenty years now. That's longer than I was a student. Or a wife. Or anything else in my life, really. I have yet to be ANYTHING for twenty years other than a librarian with the exception of being a daughter or a sister. It has been my constant. And now, I am something else.

Since I haven't truly begun learning how to be a travel agent, this means that my primary roles at this moment are mother and wife. And interestingly, both these roles were very difficult for me to accept to begin with. I have a pretty bad fear of commitment, so the two years after our wedding were filled with serious anxiety and panic on my part. (Chris, thank goodness, is cool as a cucumber and held my hand through the whole ordeal.) Then, the first six days after giving birth, all I wanted to do was put her back to cook longer. I was so not ready for her to be dependent on me. And I was so uncomfortable with the title of Mom.

Now, however, both titles are points of pride for me. As was being a librarian. And now I am not. For the next few weeks while I focus on our house and my health, I am wife and mother and friend and sister. But I am not librarian. As this leaves me a little empty inside. The future is exciting and limitless, but still, I mourn the end of the past.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Today I Quit My Job

Well, technically, I suppose I quit two weeks ago when I submitted my resignation letter. But today is the last actual day that I enter  the library as a Manager and leave a regular patron. It is beyond odd, as I have only been in this library as an employee. My job required me to try to see it as a patron would so that I could make it as friendly and welcoming as possible, but in reality, I still knew everyone there by name and saw more than what a stranger saw.

Now, when I go in to borrow a book, I am a stranger. Not RIGHT now, of course, but in a year or two as staff turns over and they finally hire to fill the vacant Library Assistant positions, I will walk into a building of strangers. Odd.

And so begins a new chapter of my life. At age forty, in the middle (hopefully past the middle) of an economic downturn, I am willingly leaving my good government job to pursue a dream. Starting a business in something I love. It's true that I love libraries, but it's not the same as my passion for travel. And making that situation even better, I can work from home.

It is odd that I, the same woman who tossed her six-week-old daughter into daycare to return to work, is now feeling an undeniable urge to stay at home and take care of her children herself. I took my son to soccer practice two weeks ago for the first time in 18 months. Other parents there knew him and cheered him on. I have no idea who they were, never mind who their children were. Humiliating.

And our home... To say it is a bit messy is to say the Taj Mahal is a house. This place is huge and with both of us working and chasing kids around, it gets away from us. My first priority is to clean this place up and get my personal act together. One hazard of being a working mom is that you do so many things that it is nigh impossible to do any one of them really well. My hope is that by allowing my personal life to blend with my work life, I can consider that all one thing and I can do it really well. Yes, I understand work/life balance, and honestly, the two things will still be separated, but now I will control them all.

Now I sound Fascist. I am not. I simply would like to ensure that if my kids' homework isn't done, it's not because I couldn't find a pencil, and if the cats' water bowl is empty, it's not because I haven't entered that particular room in a week and so I hadn't noticed.

So here I sit on the edge of something new, uncharted, and extremely exciting. Let's just see what happens here...