Tag Archives: job

Moving Week. So Long Apartment. Hello House of Holes. (This isn’t a post about porn.)

Sorry to disappoint, but House of Holes is not the title of the new porno I’m staring in–it’s what the house I’m moving into looks like at the moment.

Despite our hopes to have all construction work done before moving in and before having a baby, in actuality we’re moving into a house with a circuit busted, holes just about everywhere (my favorite is the giant dark gaping hole… into the crawl space of doom where the furnace used to be) and my electric panel to replace the one that apparently self combusts without notice is going to make it in sometime around the second week of January, despite contracting for it back in mid November. Oh, and my bathroom is, well, it looks like the early stages of a home remodeling show at the second. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t take 30 minutes to transform from drab to fab.

My biggest concern about all the work still needing to be done is not the holes or lack of lighting. It’s that now we have to live in a house with people coming in and out in the height of the pandemic. We are setting it up so our bed will be in the living room on one end of the house away from most of the construction and hoping between that and going out on the days people are doing work, we can avoid getting sick.

Speaking of getting sick, my husband’s grandmother, age 96, caught COVID at her nursing home this week. The window visit to see her yesterday was scary and surreal. So far she’s doing “ok” in the sense that she was moved to a larger nursing home and is sitting up and communicating, but she got a positive diagnosis just 4 days ago (her entire group home got sick – ugh!) so at this point, who knows. I thought the window visit would be regulated somehow… I mean, it was probably fine, but after nearly a year of being so careful to avoid humans who might have COVID, it felt strange to walk a path around the nursing home past windows (hopefully all closed) with my husband and son (wearing our masks of course) to a window in the back that they opened for the visit. She sat 6 feet away, supposedly. She seemed happy to see us and my son. We haven’t seen her in nearly a year. The group home where she was went into complete lock down in March, or so we were told. I can’t even imagine what the last months were like for her. We’re not close or anything (she doesn’t talk much and is quite introverted) but still… what a sad life–already a sad life being a widow in your 90s stuck in a small house waiting to die. And then corona comes along and you can’t even see your family. Horrible.

She is 96 which is pretty incredible and I’ve read people over 95 tend to actually fare better with COVID because they have really good genes, so we’re hopeful. We, of course, don’t want to lose great grandma, and certainly not to COVID, but on top of all this–when my husband’s grandmother does pass away, it will set off a domino effect of logistical nightmare for my husband and his mother, as his mother lives in her mother’s house which is filled with half a century or more of thrift store hoarder heaven. Undoubtedly the brother who is managing his mother’s care will be quick to want to sell the house, which means it will need to be emptied and we will need to find a place for my husband’s mother to live. That alone will be a huge stress and mess whenever it happens. If it happens to happen the week my second child is born (which would be perfectly on schedule for my curse, by the way–my grandma died 4 days after my wedding, dad died 7 days after my first son was. born) then, well, it’s going to be what it is but I know my husband, faced with the reality of this situation happening now is having a heart attack every few minutes at the moment, besides being devastated that his grandma caught COVID just weeks before a vaccine availability for people her age.

I was not feeling optimistic about her situation until seeing her yesterday, and now feel a bit more hopeful. We talked to a guy who works at the nursing home (he was wearing a mask and we were outside but he got close to us to take our temperature which I found kind of crazy as if WE had COVID we weren’t going to give it to anyone during a visit where we stood outside, and HE was clearly around COVID patients all day and got, you know, within 3 feet of us to take our forehead temps. I held my breath when he took it but of course my 2 year old son did not know how to do that (he was wearing a mask, but I’m not sure how effective masks are when you’re that close.) So I’m feeling more optimistic about my husband’s grandmother recovering from Coronavirus and less optimistic of me not having Coronavirus when I go into labor. Even if I didn’t go to visit her, my husband was going, and he wanted to take our son, and it was outside (and his grandmother was sitting inside 6 feet away and we were all wearing masks), but I just feel uneasy about that whole situation. California is going to shit when it comes to our Coronavirus numbers, but in this case we chose to go near a facility with known patients. In my 35th week of pregnancy. With a husband who has high blood pressure. And a 2 year old who would probably be fine if he caught Corona unless he had a horrible reaction to it, but who knows what it does to kids over the long term?

So that just adds another layer to everything right now, everything which has so many layers I’m just letting them build up at this point and not attempting to peal them. I can’t. It’s too much. Even my upcoming performance review (which was now moved to January since I’ve opted to work a bit longer after finding out how much money I’ll be losing if I take off the extra 2-3 weeks before my delivery date) is barely registering with me, despite the occasional mental loop about how my boss and my former boss with (possibly) cautiously tell me about my demotion and how I’ll never be a leader and carefully document all of my mistakes last year so they can throw me out as soon as I get back to work after maternity leave and pass whatever HR qualified period is required to not fire a woman who just had a baby. Of course, I’ll do what it takes to be GREAT for as long as I can when I get back (which is difficult when you just had a baby and do not sleep–my first PIP came a week after I got back from maternity leave and I was losing my mind, so who knows what will happen this time.) I don’t know. I have a lot of money on the line right now. And I feel like my new role is actually good for me in that I can get the work done to an acceptable level. Maybe that’s what my former boss is thinking too. She is actually a nice person and seems to like me enough and she knows how much $ I have on the line and if she wanted to she could have fired me last year (I gave her quite the runway between the PIP and announcing that I’m pregnant so she didn’t have to feel like she was stuck with me) and she decided to keep me, or decided to not make it a priority to get rid of me at the time. Because I did do some good work. She even said so. I was doing really well the first half of the year. Then I had 3 bad months. Then I was demoted and told I’ll never be a leader.

Anyway, maybe it’s true. Or maybe I’m just going through a lot in my personal life right now and it’s not the time to lead. I just wish I could have a job where I didn’t have to constantly worry about getting fired. Layoffs happen and can’t be avoided, but I don’t want my performance to ever be part of the equation. I look at my friend who is just so confident and always gets his work done, despite his work not being too complex yet, and how that led to his promotion into my former role. Now, said friend is seemingly really good at strategy for this specific position, and he deserves to move up in his career and have a shot at running the show. Still, I’m unclear how the work I’ve done (and what I’ve put out) is so horrible over what he might do. People just have a negative perception of me because I’m a bad project manager, but all of my contributions have been solid as far as I know. I just missed a few deadlines (which for the most part didn’t even push out project launches, just internal deadlines that were set too aggressively in the first place.)

Where I really failed was in not focusing on a strategy that tied to my boss’s plans close enough. But even that was pretty difficult to do as those plans changed and there was no strategic guidance. So I came up with a plan based on whatever it was I picked up on working remote from the various teams and people seemed happy with it at the time. I tried to execute on that plan and I did execute on it, but not in the way I should have. I should have made things simple, delegated work to lots of people, and lead in making other people do things so things got done and everyone was aligned and excited and motivated and everyone was like, damn gurrrrlll, you are the best leader ever. Instead I came up with a plan (collaboratively, mind you) and then tried to get the work done by reaching out to people across the organization vs mostly on my team. Stuff was pretty complicated and I wanted to make sure I put out things that were accurate so it took me too long. I set unrealistic deadlines, but for me deadlines are always unrealistic because I have a mental flaw where I can’t actually focus on work until the last minute, and then somehow the brain block opens and suddenly I am doing work that would take someone 2 weeks in one night. And no one knows the difference. Except when I’m so anxious about the situation that I can’t even get that one night. Or a bunch of people review the work and change their minds after they told me one thing, so I have to change it again. And I don’t know how to say “this is done” because I want to make everyone happy.

Anyway, wasn’t this a house about those dark holes in my house? The point was, I’m just not super focused on my job situation right now in that I have little time to dwell on it outside of hoping that whatever this review is, I’m given some sort of opportunity to take the rest of the next year to do my new job and am not given an actual demotion yet. Even if my title drops to the next tier, if I can keep the same pay and vesting schedule I would lose out only on a percentage of my bonus next year. Which would be sad but not the end of the world. I don’t know if they can take back any stock grants at this point, even with a demotion, so hopefully I can hold on to that.

Maybe after I’ve moved to my new house, set up an actual office (vs working for the past year FROM MY BED in my ONE BEDROOM APARTMENT) and have gotten past the first few sleepless months of having a baby, I can actually do a decent job. Decent meaning I unlock the mystery of making plans for a project that everyone is aligned with, from starting ideation to launch and beyond, and every single project I manage is so perfectly executed that no one can say a  negative word about me. There is absolutely nothing I can do to move up in this organization again, but that is not my goal. I have 15 months of survival, and then I can evaluate where I’m at. In 15 months, I hope to have this job, a healthy baby (in addition to my healthy toddler), a healthy husband, a vaccinated family, a house that hasn’t burnt down (and hopefully is free of holes outside of the purposeful ones in the plumbing and entryways), and then I can stop and figure out the rest of life. Do we stay a few more years? Do we move? Do I get a new job? Do I keep this one if I’m actually good at it (despite no room for advancement?) I can figure that all out then. Right now, this is a month-by-month, week-by-week, day-by-day survival game.

The current level involves figuring out how to hire a GOOD handyman to fill in the 3×3 hole into the vortex of doom in my closet (not to mention a matching portal into the attic), and how to fix the electric circuit that my bathroom remodelers say they didn’t break (they probably did but they claim the HVAC people did this, despite us knowing it was working the night of the HVAC work being complete), and all the other things that will undoubtedly go wrong once we move in. I’m trying to just embrace this all as the sitcom of my life, because when you just accept that you’re living in a comedy, even the most tragic can be spun up with hilarity to get you through it. I’ve found no amount of money can protect you from the chaos that is life. Or maybe, with some ridiculous amount you can cushion yourself from it a bit (at some point you can have an electrician living with you in your contractor’s quarters) but generally speaking, life is shit for everyone. It’s good it is, I guess. It’s more shit for some people but everyone suffers at some point, $100M in the bank or not. So I embrace my varying levels of suffering, from my first world problems of a hole-ly house to those that are a bit more substantially shitty, such as when my father died a week after my son was born in a rehab facility that I’m still convinced was negligent/not where he should have been in his condition.

Right now, I don’t know how many more bad things I can take. Birth is scary as fuck and so many things can go wrong. We don’t hear about them because we’re told as long as mom and baby are healthy/alive, then things went well. That’s not really true. Lots of things can go wrong and mom/baby survive. My first birth was not horrific compared to ones I’ve read about since having my son (you know, compared to woman who had emergency C sections where the numbing meds didn’t work AND THEY FELT EVERYTHING) or those who hemorrhaged and blacked out after giving birth and aren’t sure how they’re alive) so I’m a bit terrified of what could happen… but for the most part births are pretty standard and women have their babies come out one way or another and either way is fairly safe and babies don’t typically come out not breathing and have to go to the NICU like my son and even if they do they eventually adapt to the world and thrive like my son is doing now.

But it’s hard not to worry, especially 5 weeks (or much less) until I do this all over again. I’m both oddly looking forward to it (a redemption birth, a glorious smooth birth where baby comes out and is placed on my chest and crawls to my breast and latches with no problem and we just have that beautiful, peaceful moment I hear so much about) and terrified out of my mind about all the things that could go wrong. And then just thinking through the logistics of how to make sure my son is safe while we go to the hospital… we have somewhat of a plan but it isn’t perfect. If I’m induced, it would be a bit more controlled (pick up my MIL, bring her to our house, set her and my son up for a few days of safe living) but if I go into spontaneous labor (which is the hope) then it will look more like driving 30 minutes to the hospital while I’m screaming in pain, dropping me off, either picking her up after and driving her back to my house (another 45 minutes) then driving back to the hospital and parking (another 45 minutes) until my husband gets back to be with me (leaving me alone for a good 2 hours+ while in active labor) or he drops my son off at her house which is fine for a day but not safe for an overnight, which is going to happen if it seems like I’m about to pop (I think that’s more realistic… we book it up to her house, drop my son off and continue on to the hospital together. It would be about 45 minutes from home to the hospital at that point, with the stop.) Then once I’m in recovery and given the all clear, my husband can head out and drive my son and his mother to our house, and then at some point come back to be with me and baby at the hospital. Or if I’m doing exceptionally well he can stay home with my son and his mom and get some rest while I manage baby at the hospital overnight, and then get picked up to go home in a day or two and come home to a husband who isn’t out-of-his-mind exhausted (this may be the best scenario.)

I can’t believe it’s five weeks away (and there is a chance my doctor won’t let me go beyond 39 weeks which, good ol math tells us is FOUR weeks away.) FOUR WEEKS until I knock on wood have ANOTHER kid. Life is so strange. I have definitely adjusted to being mom to one. My son is awesome.  I don’t see him as a little kid. I mean, I do in that he’s just innocent and honest and has those moments of pure joy that only someone without a grasp on the hours of the world can have. But he’s also just this little person with his own ideas and opinions and needs. And I love him to pieces…

And I don’t know how I’m going to love another kid but I’m told you just do. I think I can. I’m crazy and want 3 kids. I feel like at the end of the day, what matters to me most is family. I grew up with such a big extended family and now it’s really just us. My husband has some cousins nearby with older kids, but we don’t see them often (even pre COVID.) I wish I could be more social with them but they’re just rather adult and normal and I don’t know how to connect with adult and normal people. I mean now we can talk about kids, which is something to talk about, but I just feel like a teenager around them and they’re all such grown ups. I may be 37 but I get along with people who are mentally 16, which is the problem. They are super nice, but if I went to dinner or drinks alone with them (esp the two women who are in their early 40s who are both super nice but just superrrr normal) it would just be awkward. Not that I really connect with my extended family, but they’re at least east coast types who have big personalities and I feel a bit more comfortable around them. Anyway, I want to build my own family. And I can… I have. And to me, 2 kids is great and 3 is even better. Sure, there’s no guarantee my future kids will not be little demons but… I don’t know… my heart wants a fairly big family. Not huge. But 3 seems like the right number. It always has to me. I’ll get through #2 and see if I still feel this way. I’ll be 38 before I can start trying for #3, and I’m throwing around the idea of doing IVF both to minimize risk of defects at that age and also sex selection. Which is horrible in my politically correct mind where one should not care about the sex of their children but then I also really want to have a girl and I think I’d be sad if I didn’t at least try to make that happen. IVF will be expensive, so I’m saving up for it, but at 38/39 even if I didn’t want to do it for sex selection I still might need it. So that’s possibly in my future. But for now, I want to have a healthy birth and a healthy baby and get to know my new kiddo.

My heart is so ready to see my son meet his sibling. He’s 2.5 years old and seems to sort of get that a baby is coming. He knows I’m growing a baby and we watch YouTube videos of funny babies so he understands what a baby is. I tell him baby is coming in January and he says “NO! FEBRUARY!” and he often points to my stomach and says “BABY!!” I hope he does well with all the change coming up… the move next week (we’ve been bringing him to the house often and he definitely is comfortable being there, but I don’t know how he’ll feel when we no longer can come back to the apartment) and then they’ll be a new kid living with us! But in February grandpa will be moving in and that will be great for him since grandpa is his best friend. Grandpa has a fall and hasn’t been to the doctor as he apparently didn’t enroll in Medicare Part B (eventually I’ll write another post re: my learnings of Medicare’s insanity) and he also wants to avoid doctor due to COVID concerns (which I understand) so grandpa who is living with us to help with our son when we have our new baby will be less able to help and also prevent us from hiring help until vaccines come out since we can’t risk exposing him to the virus, so there’s that. At least grandma loves to watch our son as well and she never uses her time off so she can spend some time with us and  our son too, even if she doesn’t live with us. It will all work somehow. I don’t know how people do this without any help. I just want us all to survive.

I’m so ready for 2021. And filling the holes in my house and those in my heart opened during my last birth. It’s been a rough 2.5 years. Through all of it, I’ve held down a job, increased by net worth substantially, and have set my family up for a clear path to $2.5M in net worth by the end of 2021 or early 2022. We should clear $2M in the next week, once the rest of my stock vests, even after all the taxes I owe for this year. I don’t know how that doesn’t feel like an accomplishment… not long ago I was looking at $1M like… that’s never going to happen, and here we are, $2M with 1.5 kids and a mortgage and so many crawl space and attic entrances!

Things are really good, despite being also not so good. I want to see my mom again soon (even though she’s a narcissist, I still miss her), and I want to see my sister and my extended family and I want life to go back to normal. I want my husband’s grandmother to kick COVID’s ass (this woman will live to 110) and I want to have one of those childbirths that starts with contractions at home and ends with a birth at the hospital where baby comes out screaming in a good way. I can’t plan for 5 years from now or 3 years from now at this point. It is now until April 1, 2022. That is all that matters. We get through this, I keep my job, we don’t get sick, we pay our mortgage on time, we fill those house holes (maybe with the play doh we’re giving our son for Christmas), and we learn how to be adults. Maybe we too can become normal adults and I can go to dinner with my husband’s cousins (or invite them over) and discuss such things as my son’s school and how to maintain a backyard and house hole filing. Or whatever normal adults talk about.

What’s clear is that this now is life and I’m going to live it the best I can. Accept the holes as part of what makes it interesting. And survive until April 1, 2022, with 15 months of potential life-changing net worth growth ahead, I’m in such a good place to set my family up for many years of relative stability (even if we stay in a HCOL area), and for once I feel really good about making it. Not forever. But 15 months. I got this. Maybe even the holes will be filled in by then.

Finding Confidence and Value

There are some things I think I’m pretty good at. Work wise. The issue is, I’m not consistent. I’m not able to put the final polish on anything. I’m a starter. A connector. I can understand complex ideas and opinions and simplify them so they make sense, whether that be streamlining messaging or a complex process. I see the big picture and follow all the pipes through their knots and see where we can move the fewest pieces to fix what’s broken. I enjoy solving problems like this. Building systems.

I do not enjoy executing on said systems or taking projects across the finish line. I get things going. I step in and see what can be optimized. Lack of logic, failure to appreciate efficiencies, and the worst–internal politics and recognition for perception over performance–are what gut me the most. Reward for following broken processes vs a culture hungry to always do better. To solve real problems versus do what it takes to look like you’ve got things in order. Fixing the foundation instead of swimming in quicksand and dragging everyone in with you.

It really hurts that I was not put on the new leadership team in my group. I’m not surprised. I sometimes talk even more than I think. But I’m not valued for what I do best. I’ve been demoted to a role where I primarily am a project manager, which is just about my weakest skill. I’m trying to see this as a positive — a year of getting better where I can really use time to improve. It’s ok. I like being able to focus on this and figure out how to be a better communicator and get super organized with project plans and such. It’s painful for me, but necessary to learn how to do this better.

I try not to think about how I’m not in the leadership group that is clearly focused on strategy and direction. I’ve gone from trusted advisor to my group’s VP to someone she would rather never talk to. Yes, it’s that bad. No, I’m not imagining things. I don’t think she hates me, per se, but she doesn’t see me as supporting her own goals right now outside of maybe a few projects I’ve put out that have gotten enough recognition for the team. But does she value my ideas and strategic vision for anything? Clearly not.

In exploring some ideas this morning, I thought for a moment if there might be anyway I could regain her trust and move back up the ladder. But… it’s impossible. The only way to move up in this organization would be to leave my department entirely. I’m stuck. I can do amazing work the whole next year and it will get me nowhere (though worth doing to keep my stock at the moment and focus on this project management and communication skillset I so desperately need to improve on.) But it hurts. It’s not like we’re a giant team and only a few people are in this leadership group. It’s pretty clear I’m not in it when I should be in it, if I hadn’t screwed up so badly. If I hadn’t gotten myself into a situation where my boss probably has had multiple meetings with HR on the best and safest timing to fire me.

Sigh.

I’m trying to just focus on reminding myself that I am good at some things. I think this is just the wrong job for me, and probably the wrong department. I have no idea how to chang ecareers right now but in a year… if somehow miraculously we can get close to the 3M networth mark, well, then maybe I can really explore this. Go back to school. Try something new. Take a risk. Take some time. Stop feeling like the scapegoat of my organization which just makes me perform worse.

Since I can’t compete with the polished professionals who thrive in corporate culture and manage to put off the impression they never make mistakes (and get really mad at you when you do), I need to find a career and environment that encourages people to collaborate and fail forward and be themselves. That isn’t here. I know that will never be here.  I thought, for a while, my unique viewpoint was valued. I felt happiest when my boss asked me to review something she was working on and provide input. Then that stopped. I’ve been banned. Blacklisted. Relegated to the bottom of a very short totem pole that is top heavy. And I’m trying to avoid jealously because it’s useless and really I know I did this to myself. If only I hit deadlines this year… even if my work wasn’t as good… I’d probably still be clinging on to my previous role vs, well, whatever this is. This limbo of title-less existence. Being forgotten and either purposefully forced out or given the “we hope you leave” treatment so eventually I do. Well, I’m sad about it. It is what it is. But either I am good at what I do and I’m undervalued or I suck at what I do and I desperately need to find something else TO do as I’ve got 30 some-odd years left of work to go and while this is definitely work it sure isn’t working.

I don’t know anymore.

This morning, like many mornings, I woke up excited about my job. I had finished a small project with high visibility, hit a pretty unrealistic deadline, and the quality of the output was actually strong. By noon, I was a mess of tears, after getting scolded for sharing the project too early, not communicating properly, and failing on many levels. The thousandth time I broke down in tears this week.

I can’t win. I really can’t. I know communication and project management is not my forte. But I feel like no matter how hard I try I ALWAYS mess up. No one cares about the quality of my work. As my coworker friend told me—I put out products that are consistently great. I care about the quality of work I put out. But our company doesn’t value that. They are about perception and quantity and speed. And the people who can look like they are on top of things get ahead. No one cares about the actual work quality. Although they seem to get caught up in random details and hack apart your work until your confidence is entirely gone.

It’s really not a good situation right now. But I have 12-15 more months in pure survival mode and then I can focus on a significant transition. These last few weeks of emotional roller coaster before I am out for a few months. Coming back and not over committing and hoping they forget I exist long enough.  Then what? I don’t know. I’m unsure I can get through next year. I just want to feel like my work is appreciated. I know I’ll never be seen as a valuable employee. To the head of the department, he will always see me as the small company employee who has no pedigree. My value is no longer valued. We can attract better talent now. Every time I do something half decent I’m told why it is definitely more than half horrible.

I just don’t know what I am good at. I am tired of jobs where I’m hired to do too many different things. I burn out too fast. But if I do just one thing, what is that one thing? Why am I not allowed to hire a team — and instead am left to fail on my own? Why is it the guy who is stepping into my former role was handed a strong agency to support him, and told he would get a headcount? I get why people trust him (he comes across as super confident) but how can I succeed when I’m put into another role where I’m not given resources or support to succeed. Or maybe that is the point. Maybe they want me to fail. Or don’t care. They don’t have time to deal with me either way. Meanwhile they are asking my coworker what they can do to make him want to stay. They treat him like royalty and me like horse manure. Yes he has done some great work, but is mine that bad compared to what he has put out? He just sounds better when he talks. I sound like 2 seconds after a train wreck.

Someone commented on my blog that I should leave Silicon Valley. Yes, I should. I feel stuck. I don’t want to leave and I have been fighting it as this place has been my home now for 15+ years. And my husband grew up here. But I no longer feel like I want to stay here. I no longer feel like it’s worth this insanity. I want to spend time with my kids. Have a nice house for, I don’t know, $600k, with enough money to travel and enjoy life. Our networth is basically $2M right now and all I can do is think about how I’m going to be the scapegoat employee for the rest of my life just to pay the mortgage. Why?

I started talking to my husband about moving in a few years. He doesn’t want to, but also the idea of early retirement is appealing to him. And early retirement, esp in another year or two, is very possible for us. I think with $3M (including home value after sale) we could buy a $600k house somewhere else, work flexible jobs, travel, enjoy life, do what matters. He is intrigued. I worry about moving somewhere new with kids. I know people do it, but it will be hard for us. I don’t have many friends but I have a few here. I worry about starting over.

I don’t know what it will take to convince my husband we need to leave. I don’t seem to have much of a say in it—despite being the breadwinner. I don’t know where I want to move anyway. And we just bought a house! — but I’m really over it all. Covid is yet another reminder how short life is. I never thought I’d be looking at a family networth of $2M but here we are. It feels hollow—nothing to celebrate. It is incredible and I’m grateful—but who cares?

I want more than whatever this is. I’m tired and stuck. In a year, I need to find something better here, or GTFO.

44 Days Left Until Baby 2; 14 Days Until Maternity Leave; -2 Days Since I Changed OBs and Fought My Diagnosis

Time this year is all sorts of wonk. I don’t know what’s up or down anymore, but I do know some medical events of the last week have been a bit of a wake up call for me that money isn’t everything and I need to take my health — physical AND mental – seriously.

When I got pregnant, I was aiming for a Feb baby. It’s silly but when you go on maternity leave (at least in my state) you get paid less than full salary (and lose out on some benefits) so it is extra frustrating to go out during a time period with a lot of paid holidays. The worst is going out over Christmas as my company gives a full week of paid time off then. The best time to be out, assuming 3-4 months out, is Feb-May. You still miss a few paid holidays, but it’s not that bad. And you also come back to work right before summer which is usually a bit slower and even if not people tend to be in better spirits and it’s not like returning at the start of the year when things are extra stressful.

But, alas, I got pregnant somehow on my first try, and I studied the calendar to determine that my 4 weeks of optional disability leave before my due date ran over the Christmas break week . But then I figured out the timing actually worked out where I could go out at Christmas and take the paid week off and then immediately go on disability.

For the record (and new readers) with my first kid I was stubborn and worked up until my due date. This may have contributed to having high blood pressure at the end, which led to an induction, which led to a bunch of other interventions which maybe is what led to my son having to spend 36 hours in the NICU. We aren’t certain what caused what, but it was a quite traumatic labor and when I set out to get pregnant again I told myself I won’t be stupid and I’ll go out on leave as early as I can even if it means losing some pay and other benefits.

Then came COVID. And work from home. And analyzing the losses of going out on leave early (a few thousand dollars.) And planning to work until my due date again. It felt odd to go out on disability early when I was literally working from my bed anyway. What would people think? I care too much about that, but mostly I care about losing my ESPP contributions when on disability leave, which are worth about $1000 pre tax a week after you remove the cost I put in to buy them. And the first week of disability is entirely unpaid, but that will happen no matter when I take it.

The thing is next year will either be so incredibly lucrative for me that losing a few thou won’t be noticed… or I will come back from having kid 2 and be such a mental case I can’t hold down my job for the year ahead and I’m fired by summer. Luckily I do still vest RSU when I am out, which is a godsend, so even with a summer axing I’ll be fine. It will be devastating given if I can just hold on one more year I will significantly shift my FIRE date sooner and I’m basically holding a lotto ticket for dear life as a train going a zillion miles is passing before my face… so… it’s hard to plan anything. I just need to plan the stay healthy.  That is the best I can do.

Speaking of do, I’m due in 44 days. Which is not a lot of days. Especially if you consider this week my (now former) doctor wanted to induce me in 20. Why? Well, let me tell you, maternal care is a mess because there just isn’t enough research and data to support serious recommendations. Some doctors are too conservative. Others, many, ignore women who have symptoms of serious complications until it’s too late. I have to say I’m glad my doctor errs towards conservative, but I was extremely frustrated by her too conservative recommendations based on data that in itself was faulty. Let me explain.

High blood pressure in pregnancy is no joke. Women die everyday from complications related to blood pressure rising out of no where. Babies die. Seeing high blood pressure readings should be taken seriously by doctors and patients alike.

But. One has to then consider how these readings are gathered and the accuracy of these readings before making a very serious diagnosis that impacts the course of your care — and your due date.

BP readings are notoriously inaccurate. That is why doctors often take 2-3, to determine if one read was influenced by how you were breathing or sitting or anything else. The diagnosis criteria for gestational hypertension is two reads of 140/90 at least 4 hours apart. In my case, at an in office appointment in Oct, my first read was 148/75. Scary. They took it again and it came down substantially. No one said anything to me like — oh, if you get one more high read like this we will induce you early. The only thing they said is that my second read was good, and not to worry about it. Ok.

Now, to get an accurate BP reading, I’ve since leaned (thanks internet) one is supposed to sit still in a chair for 5 minutes before the reading is taken. No where could I find how wearing a mask in an enclosed windowless space might impact the BP read of someone with a history of anxiety and claustrophobia, but I digress. I question the accuracy of that first read. If it was real, it’s quite scary. If it isn’t, well, it’s meaningless.

Fast forward 4 weeks. Due to covid my 32 week checkup is virtual. The nurse calls me and while on the phone with me has me take my BP at home. I’m not thinking while I do this… I walk quickly to the chair by the home machine after taking my weight, sit down with my back not supported, barely breathing, clenching my phone in my fist, muttering some comments as I begin to take the read. I wasn’t concerned as I had just taking it 3 times a few hours earlier and it was fine. So as I read the numbers… 142/90… out loud… I said to myself, that’s kind of high…

I asked if I could take it again. It came down. (Then later my husband, who purchased the machine, determined he could change his own BP read by 15 points based on the tightness of the cuff!)

But none of that mattered. The moment my OB got on the phone, she tells me she is diagnosing me with gestational hypertension and I will be induced at 37 weeks. What? I ask, shocked. I feel fine. I am pretty sure my home machine gave me an inaccurate read. As she explains he logic to me, the more frustrated I grow in her not requesting for me to come in to at least check the second read in office before scheduling an induction 3 weeks before my due date!!!

I requested an in office check and labs. She scheduled me for an NST and fluid scan that I agreed to and surprise surprise, every test I took came back clear. At the office, my BP was 127/70. While I may end up with high BP in this pregnancy and am higher risk for it due to being overweight and geriatric (pregnancy wise), there is no reason to induce at 37 weeks without two accurate high readings.

So I switched doctors. She agreed with me 100%. Said why take a second reading if you aren’t going to use it!

My first doc wanted to put me out on disability immediately. I politely declined. That would be 2 weeks of lower pay and a week I’d be out anyway with full pay lost entirely. And without time to properly transition, I would still be answering work emails and doing work-without getting paid for it. Instead, I decided to compromise. I’d go out on leave Jan 4 as initially planned. With work being super stressful and just sad lately, I have no desire to work a day longer at this point.

Regarding work, I understand why I was kicked out of my role, but the way it was and continues to be handled is one kick to the ego after another. My work friend, who will be promoted into the position I had (officially, once I go on mat leave) is good at what he does — but like most men is overconfident. That works for him at this company, because confidence and clarity are by far the most valuable leadership traits, whereas output matters little. It is good for him to have this opportunity — and as I told him if anyone else was stepping into this role I’d be pissed but I’m genuinely happy for him (I am) so it all works out. Sort of. I have a new role which is still stressful and ill defined, but it’s a bit less visible. I went from a position where I was seen as a strategic leader to one where i am more or less a project manager. Does it hurt? You bet. But I have an end date in mind and stock to collect and a baby to push out. I know my new boss won’t keep me forever. I’m hopeful I have a few months after I come back from maternity leave to find my footing before anyone considers asking me to pack my virtual boxes and get out. It seems this might be achievable.

And I may still have this baby early. In 2 weeks? In 2 days? Baby could decide to come early on its own. We officially move Dec 21 (as in hired movers are moving our stuff to our house then) so I’m hoping not before that. Or before Chanukah and Christmas. I would like to make it through the month with baby still cooking. That would be wonderful. Then come Jan any day can be a maybe baby day.

And then? Well, then I’ll be mom of 2 at 37. A homeowner. Not yet a minivan owner but that’s happening soon as well. I’ll be well on my way to 40 and maybe no more kids or maybe one more kid. I’ll be fully engaged in this next phase of my life – mid life, I guess – and trying to make sense of it. After my scary self-diagnosed bipolar manic episode in late 2019, I am hoping I’m now stable. I look at who I was those few months and feel so detached from that person. So embarrassed and ashamed of her. But maybe that was my last hurrah. Maybe that was my inner crazy child dying but not giving in to her mortality without putting up one last fight. I don’t know what it was. But I feel different now. Depressed, maybe. In a mellow way. I guess that’s what having nearly $2M in networth does to a person. I am spending too much these days but I feel a little bit more stable. If I am an just get through next year, just get to $2.5M by 1/1/2022 (or close to that), I can calm down a bit more. I want to be able to not worry about every dollar earned or not. To be able to take a job I’m good at — one where my work is valued as appreciated, vs considered acceptable largely due to pity. I need to find that job – that career. And it may not pay well. But I want to have enough saved where that doesn’t matter. Maybe I can make it happen. The next year will answer if I can. Or at least if I can try.

A Bruised Ego and Preparing to Move On

I wasn’t a good fit for the role. Not in an environment where my boss wants someone who leads by being aggressive and confident to the point no one else’s ideas matter. I don’t want that job anyway. My idea of leadership is meeting with different team members, understanding their needs, solving their problems. Maybe I didn’t do that well either, but I will never be the kind of leader she wants so it makes perfect sense she has replaced me with my coworker.

Is my ego bruised? Of course. It’s painful to fail. It’s painful to look back and think — “If only I…” which in this case is pretty much if only I focused on not fixing things in the weeds and building an engine but instead just focused on producing high impact stuff that got noticed then maybe I would still have my job/title. I’d still be struggling, though. My best bet is to take my learnings here and apply them elsewhere. The timing is bad to do that though, and for all of the bruised ego and feeling like despite doing some good work this year no one has noticed or cared, I have to say I am ridiculously fortunate to be in a place where I am about to be able to step away from work for a few months, have a kid, reset, and come back to a new role that clearly isn’t my “forever role” but one that I can likely hold onto for the rest of the year — if I can manage being shot in the gut daily with reminders of both my failure and how my overly confident work friend is basically going to leverage the engine I built (and got no credit for) to be hugely successful. If he maybe would make an effort to recognize this publicly it would feel a bit better but he won’t. And I have to bite my tongue and smile and pretend I’m ok with how everything has been handled, which I’m clearly not, but what does it matter?

I wish I was in a position to succeed with the new role, but it’s already a mess. I realized I need to basically—at all times—focus on “the next 30 days.” That is, in a marathon, or war zone for that matter, you can’t think that far out. So I have 30 days to survive and then another 30. I can plan a bit for the future but primarily I need to be heads down for these mini sprint battles. I need to give them no reason whatsoever to say I didn’t achieve my commitments. I need to deliver quality work but more importantly I need to deliver work on time. As I watch my friend build his empire and try to not be too jealous. Because at the end of the day he deserves the opportunity to grow in his career and even if I held onto the role for dear life it was never going to be a fit for me. Neither is “this” job, but I think from a pure survival mindset “this” job allows me to get through the next year, put out some decent work, and prepare to move on. It’s really a blessing in disguise. I need to focus on gratitude and not all of the other shit. So my coworker is basically taking the woman I hired and the system I built to make his plans successful without giving me any credit (though he has told me as much.) Why do I care? Should I care?

What hurts most is going from being a strategic leader on my team to being kept out of all planning. I don’t understand why I can’t be involved at all. I mean, I do — my boss clearly doesn’t like my ideas and thinks I would overcomplicate things — but this whole transition is so horribly unprofessional and petty I can’t help but be hurt a little. I’m sure in her mind she’s thinking I’m damn lucky to still have a job (true) but things like how I still don’t have a new job title (hasn’t even been mentioned) while my coworker is clearly getting promoted into my current title doesn’t sit well. I’m planning to not ask and just keep my title on public channels for as long as possible. It will help immensely when looking for a new job.

Now, I know my long-time readers think that it’s probably all me… and a lot of it is… but I often end up with bosses who don’t jive with how I work. I respect my boss for her ability to function like a machine and get lots of power and not care about people or what makes sense much so she can focus on the business stuff that matters and will help her survive and continue to move up. She is a beast. And I say that in a good way. Really. But I don’t like working for people like her. I like working for people who are inspiring and collaborative and who want to work together to achieve common goals. I hope to find that in my next role. Whatever that is. Whenever that is.

There is a slightly but growing possibility that I may make pre tax 700-900k next year. Which is absolutely insane. Now, I know you are thinking holy hell shut up and do you work whatever they ask of you even if that means standing on your head in a vat of horse shit for hours at a time. And, hey, I’m with you. Before this job the most I made was 190. Which is nothing to shake a stick at salary wise, but I never dreamed I would make 700k+, let alone in one year. Even after tax it’s an impressive number.

Knowing I am making that, possibly, I understand the not-so-nice behavior of my colleagues, esp those in more senior roles who are likely looking at 2M+ in one year. We are all in the boat of tight golden handcuffs. The difference between everyone else and me is that I want out, so while part of me is sad I’m not looking at $700k+ total comp in perpetuity, another part of me is ridiculously grateful that after bonus season in 2022 I won’t have a strong compelling reason to stay. I figured at that point I need to find a job that has at least 250-300 total comp to be equal (and less the following year as I vest the last of my early grants) — still a lot, but at that point, if I’ve really saved 300k+ after tax and after expenses this year, I feel like it’s a good time to take a step back, make a little less, and find a job that isn’t destroying my sanity for once. If such a job exists. This company and (past) role on my resume will likely open a fuck ton of doors that weren’t available to me years ago. I’m lucky. I’m in a good spot. I need to be happy for my friend who is moving up in his career, happy that it worked out (as planned) that I am somewhat protected for a few months through maternity leave towards my final vest date (even though I could get caught up in a mass layoff and that may happen and would be sad), happy that my boss sees value in this one area I’ve done well in, where I can “live out my dying days” making stuff people will probably like enough to not immediately fire me.

So. Yeay. Woohoo. I did it. Or I’m close to doing it. I’m 60 days (or less) and counting to maternity leave. I’m remodeling a bathroom. I’m hoping I don’t get COVID in the hospital. I’m staring at our nation’s leadership in bewildered terror that our president is trying to kill democracy, and he has his followers convinced the election  was a sham while presenting absolutely no proof of fraud. There are a lot of big problems going on in the world right now. People out of work. People going hungry. All my little petty shit above is nothing compared to what’s going on right now. I’m in a little stressful bubble but boy does that bubble pay well—and I keep reminding myself even if I make it through just half of next year, my earnings will be substantial, and I can take some time off and figure out what’s next. As long as I make it to mat leave I’m in a really good place. If I make it to end of next year, a really, really good place.

As my blog title notes — money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy freedom. It’s so true. Life is short. I don’t want to spend life constantly worried about paying for the basics. I like working. I want to work. But I want to do work that is meaningful. That I am proud of. That I wake up in the morning excited about. I hope I can find that. I know all jobs and careers  have these issues. But this one, after 15 years in it, is clearly not the right fit, despite how shockingly lucrative it has become.

Needless to say, if I make it to the end of the next year, I owe you all a drink.

 

What Comes Next? Vesting and Career Investing

It’s funny. I filled out my performance review this year and in tabulating all of my contributions since last January, including ones that arguably delivered (significant) quantifiable ROI, I feel jolted into a sense of satisfaction meets unease—pride paired perfectly with the PTSD of being constantly reminded by my boss that I am not a leader, that I’m bad at running meetings, and that people generally don’t like me.

The reality is we are both right. I have a long way to go to be able to take the quality of my work and have a presence to match. And maybe I made a bunch of poor strategic choices this past year, but it’s hard to say when the only objectives my boss set for me was to hit deadlines (I was doing ok at this until one big project slipped) and make people like me (well, I don’t think I made major inroads in becoming queen popular this year while holed up inside my bedroom working in my PJs—though non interaction seemed to solve for this over a chunk of the year when people probably forgot I existed until I put out some decent work.

My issue 100% is consistency—which in a creative role is a massive challenge for me. The end product is usually good but the path to get there never clear. When I’m off on my own doing creative work and/or managing an agency I can GSD effectively. But throw in the kitchen sink of stakeholders / opinions, especially in an environment where I’m told my opinion doesn’t actually hold the same weight as everyone else’s, and I can’t seem to move things forward as I should. If I was just a project manager, I could do it. But as project manager and creator I find myself so often stuck. I know better than to stay stuck, and if anything it is best to just push forward and put out something vs drown in the sea of trying to make everyone happy and making no one happy.

But to be fair to myself, I was also put in a hard to win situation. My boss wanted me to lead, but her idea of leadership is somewhat incompatible with the processes designed to be collaborative. She made comments on how I brought too many people into the process (probably true) and yet in the end this collaboration was actually one of the most positive feedback notes received during the review of what went well and what didn’t.

What didn’t go well is not knowing how to guide people to my strategic vision and instead trying to execute on “theirs,” however conflicting it all was. My boss was not involved much—she just wants the person in this specific role to lead and figure out what to do and get buy in, but she has little interest in participating in determine what any of that is. She wants someone who will list be excellent. Trusted. Smart. Influential. Charismatic. Assertive.

She, apparently, wants my coworker. I mean, to do this. She put him into my temporary role and moved me out of it without clear communication to either of us. As she was, it seems, prodding him to step up and lead and equipping him with a career path to taking over my role, she was quietly plotting to move me out of it. I’ll never know if I still have a job because I am pregnant or if the leadership team actually sees value in me and wants me to stay (perhaps a little of both) but I’ve been put into a role where success is even more unlikely given again I have no control over the work I’m doing, only put in a position where I’m expected to both drive projects forward and make everyone happy.

I’ll do my best.

What is most challenging right now is that I’m being tasked to come up with a strategic plan for next year, yet I can’t move forward with this until other planning I am not involved in is done, yet I go out on maternity leave in less than two months and there isn’t much time remaining to move forward on a plan let alone create a plan. I take one step forward and two or twenty back. If I don’t plan, I am told I am not making enough progress. When I try to move things forward, I’m told I’m moving too fast and I need to wait. Somehow, no matter what I do, my former boss (now boss’s boss) seems to find fault with it. Luckily I have a few projects to take me through mat leave, and I’m hopeful they won’t ask me to leave between now and then with so much that needs to be wrapped up. But upon my return from baby 2 this spring, I acknowledge my days are numbered. The question is how long can I produce good enough work assigned to me and never miss a deadline so their argument to throw me out becomes one of documenting every last word choice made in emails and meetings and not one of failed project delivery. That won’t save me forever, but it’s possible with the right focus I can make it to the end of next year. I really hope I can.

But I also realize that there is no where to to here but down. I’m seen as a mediocre performer at best, saved by occasional delivery of projects that make my team look good. I want a job where people respect me for my strategy and results, not random output that has no greater value. So maybe I can find that next. This job, despite its ups and downs, has truly been life changing for me. Financially, I will be walking away from a few years of stock appreciation mostly sold and now safely in my bank account and diversified across index funds (and a new house.) While I’m sure had I been an A+ player I’d have even greater wealth due to rates and large stock refreshers I did not get, it all works out in the end as there are no golden handcuffs after next year, and it’s much easier to seek out a new role with a comparable package since this company has made it clear they don’t care if I stay (and clearly prefer that I don’t.) But I also take with me a solid chunk of time at a respected company that is not a startup no one has heard of. And while my role may be shrinking into oblivion, my resume has grown enough to at least land me interviews (or I assume it would) vs what life looked like job hunting prior to this role. This is not to say I’ll easily get hired anywhere, but I do think I have a shot at being high on the list of who to call when I submit my applications.

The real question is — how do I make it through next year? The amount of money on the table is non trivial and losing any of it would feel like taking a winning lottery ticket and dropping it onto subway tracks with a train coming at full speed, instantaneously blowing it away as if it never existed. So. I have my personal marching orders. Survival. Survival in the hard months upon returning from maternity leave when sleep is practically non existent. If I am able to continue to WFH due to covid this may help—but it also may prove challenging as partially the return to an office last time enabled a mental split from mom life to work life, and my occasional naps in the breastfeeding room out of sheer exhaustion were not interrupted by a toddler screaming out the alphabet for the nine thousandth time in a row. So this will be interesting, to say the least. An interesting year of being good enough that they won’t fire me. Or at least that they will wait until performance reviews next year to do so, giving me a few months of safety upon my return to work. It’s all possible. I think I can deliver on what is expected as long as I do not over commit and I hide as much as possible. I say little, in meetings or otherwise. My only objective is driving positive sentiment about interactions with me. Everyone should say how easy I was to work with, how they felt heard in meetings, and how I helped them deliver on their vision. If I can do this, barring any major unexpected layoffs, I should be safe. Unless I’m already on the chopping block.

But I don’t think I am. It would be in poor taste (and with questionable legal standing) to fire me a few weeks out from maternity leave with the delivery of a number of successful projects in the recent past. It would be equally questionable for them, within 3-6 months of returning from maternity leave to fire a woman who is performing at least at moderate levels. I never try to contribute anything less than exceptional work, but the reality is after you have a baby (and I hear after you have a second one) sleep is non existent and it’s hard to perform at the same level for a little while, until baby starts to sleep through the night and isn’t waking you up to nurse every few hours.

So on one hand, I feel good about where I am. Two months out from maternity leave, if that, with a clear line of sight to half of the remaining vesting periods. I can’t (and wouldn’t) slack off at this point, but I it feels very possible to make it through that, in the least. Then, I have my 6-12 months of holding on for dear life. And figuring out what’s next. I’d love for my company to acknowledge my contributions and fight for me to stay, but that clearly isn’t going to happen. I’ll be lucky if I see any sort of raise this year (I received a <2% COL adjustment last year with a tiny stock refresh valued under 10k a year compared to my initial grant of 50k+ a year) so I’m clearly in the bucket of employees who are good enough to stay but not good enough to fight to keep.

Would I feel blissful if my company suddenly gave me a massive stock refresh this year as thanks for what I’ve contributed? Sure. That would be nice. It’s not happening. I probably am making more than my new boss right now with my total package, at least should I ever get a refresh bringing me back to where I started. It’s not happening. I don’t even have a title right now. They put someone into my role and moved me into a new role and didn’t have the respect to clarify what my new title is, or to even make it clear that my colleague is stepping into the role I was performing (outside of just organically allowing it to happen.) The whole situation is just unprofessional and unsettling, but who am I to complain when I’m looking at my stock vesting account and see the amount I may receive next year? I really can’t complain. I’m so grateful. And I want to stay and stay not just because HR is saying something about keeping me until legally I’m no longer protected, but because I actually am doing good work. If I am going to leave in early 2022, which is the plan, I want to leave on a very high note.

While it seems like a very long time between now and March 2022, it really isn’t. Especially not in returning to the first year of motherhood. It will feel long and yet also fly by in a blur. I need to have a plan for what’s next since I’m the breadwinner and carry the insurance. I can’t just take time off. I’ll have to be on the top of my game when kiddo #2 turns 1.

Every last ounce of me is determined to make it happen. I am not going to be a superstar or anything close to it, but I’m going to make it through to the day I receive all the stock offered when I joined. And I’m going to surprise no one when I put in my notice, but I’m going to do so after a long period of consistent, high-quality work and everyone feeling good about whatever it is I’ve done, so in the years to come people will remember the positive about my contributions and maybe forget about how socially awkward I am and horrible at communicating. I’ll say as little as possible and hope that gets me across the finish line.

Am I Really That Bad at my Job?

It has been easier in my past incarnations to accept failure and move on after a few tears were shed. This time is different. It’s personal. It’s being reassigned not because of the quality of the work (well, I’ve heard only positive feedback on the quality), but because of who I am. While I get it, that hurts a lot more than being told my work was not up to par. When I see a friend/colleague who is smart and confident and well spoken be placed in my former role, I feel no bitterness towards him, only sadness in my lack of ability to perform as expected. I don’t blame anyone but myself, and yet the gash of the moment bleeds deep.

There is nothing worse after being transferred from your role than being told the work you delivered is of good quality. Any compliments from this point on feel like paper cuts along the way as you smile and wave like a beauty queen on a parade float on the way to your next position that has been defined loosely as a transfer, not a demotion. But it’s a demotion nonetheless. It may not have a pay cut now, but what’s cut is the potential for any future growth. It is the company telling you they aren’t in the mood to fire a pregnant woman or a new mom, so they’ll let me work that out for myself. Work myself out. Out of the company.

I realize I’m a difficult employee in some senses. But I’m also incredibly loyal and care deeply about my work. It’s not perfect. I make mistakes. A former colleague of mine reminds me time and again that everyone makes mistakes. People miss deadlines all the time, even people who hold me up to a certain standard. It’s just that once people view you in a certain way, it is near impossible to change their minds. I blame myself for that too—but I never have the energy to play the game of perception. I just want to collaborate and do good work that moves the needle.

The transfer has been handled with what can only be described as disrespect (or ambivalence) to me, but I am trying to not take it personally. If only there was clear communication, or perhaps sharing my new title with me and the plans to move my colleague into my former role before sending out a mass email to the company about the transition and failing to mention the replacement situation, only allowing that to happen organically as suddenly he is empowered to run what I was running days ago. Surely the powers that be see me as highly disposable, at least in not caring if I leave on my own, and also knowing that my compensation (for the next year anyway) is high enough that I would never walk by choice. They know I have to (and will) give my all no matter where they put me.

My boss positioned the transfer as using my skills in the right role, vs keeping me in one that would never be a fit. Yet in my first meeting for my new role she nearly fired me over how poorly I ran the awkward 30 minutes. I clearly embarrass her, and she doesn’t want me on her team, but she is putting up with me either due to HR saying to hold off until I’m no longer a protected class employee or because every now and again I do really good work that makes up for being such a klutz of a human being. Or both. Who knows.

This is not to say my gratitude is lacking. I realize in the middle of a global pandemic I am lucky to have a job at all, not to mention one that, due to stock growth, has an earnings potential in the next year I would have laughed about just 4 years ago as a total annual income I could ever make, even years from now at the tail end of a long career. So I know I need to bite my tongue and grin and bear it. I’m not fired, like another friend and colleague who was let go last year and had since gone on to an even better role. I managed to survive the last dark winter, and made it through the first months of the pandemic and WFH with newfound energy to prove everyone wrong. And the everything came crumbling down. Anxiety. Pregnancy insomnia. The state of the world. From failure to top performer and back all in the span of a few months.

I’m trying not to dwell on it. Clearly it leaves a dull ache even when I put it all to the back of my mind. But I’m trying to figure out how to pick up and move on. I know where I lack in polish I can sometimes make up for in my good attitude. If I focus on being thankful and do not complain or discuss how hurt I am (that I still do not have an official new title, for example, or clarity in what success means in my new role which makes the whole thing seem like a setup to fail) and just smile and talk as little as possible and try my best to do the work, then maybe I can survive. At this point, it’s the most I can hope for. Not long-term survival, but 18 months. It’s completely feasible, even with a tattered ego and watching my colleague step in with the confidence and swagger and intellect I’ll never have to thrive.

As I watch him step in to the position, I also question how I’ll ever be able to convince anyone, anywhere, that I am able to lead like that. I know folks on here have reminded me leadership isn’t everything—but I’m not talking people management, more senior IC where people actually trust you and look to you as an expert in the organization. I don’t know if I’m cut out for that role either. I think my ideas are generally good. But I don’t know how to gain buy in until the end product. Then, suddenly, people see the vision and are saying that the work itself is good. I am personally never satisfied with it, but I’ve learned to accept done is better than perfect (as long as there are no blatant errors.)

The challenge for me is getting everyone to buy in along the way. I’ve found, instead, I have two options: 1. Let everyone else tell me what to do and execute on other’s vision to the best of my abilities or 2. follow my intuition and do what I know will lead to the best result in the end. I find 1 impossible as I am incapable of doing much of anything when executing someone else’s vision—esp when there are 6 different someone else’s who all want something different that I fundamentally disagree with. 2 is always why I have a job in the first place. People remember my output and not how I got there. But then as soon as they do remember they label me as difficult to work with and put me on the path to nowhere and likely pray nightly that I’ll leave on my own volition, sooner than later.

Is it possible to find a stable job where I can be my best self and not feel like a babbling teenager every time I set foot into a meeting? Is it possible to position myself as person to be respected instead of someone who is there to take notes and churn out robotic work just to check the box and get it done? If I can survive the next 18 months, knock on wood, I’ll be 38 when I go into my next job. That’s my “40 year old” job, likely. At 40 people are either moving up in their career or falling backwards. As a mother with young kids, it’s pretty common to slip at this point in terms of growth and long-term earnings potential. Maybe if I lived a life that didn’t include a 7k mortgage, 2 kids, a goal for one more, and a husband who works part time, I might throw in the towel at this point and say I accept defeat and will take what anyone is willing to pay me. But I can’t do that. There is a certain amount I need to make to pay the bills and a target amount I need to make so we can live the fairly modest but good life I want us to live. I am alone in this and alone I have to figure it out.

I don’t even have a clear vision for who I want to be—this work persona I need to invent—in order to succeed anywhere. Certainly, I want to be seen as someone dependable and reliable. But beyond that I want to figure out how to have swagger. It seems now whenever I voice an opinion it comes across as nails on a chalkboard to anyone listening. Yet others just state opinions as fact and no one notices. It’s that raw confidence that I find is impossible to embody. It is something I need to figure out in the haze of new motherhood next year, preparing for whatever it is that’s next, and doing whatever it takes to prove I’m worth saving until it makes sense to step into my new work psyche make that leap elsewhere.

When You Do Good Work But It Doesn’t Matter.

I struggled through a new process at work that was ill-defined and required leadership where I did not serve the role as leader effectively for a number of reasons. In the past–less than two months–I went (briefly) from a top performer to bottom of the pack. This time, I really tried. But I didn’t get everyone to move fast enough. I didn’t get myself to move fast enough. I committed to dates that in hindsight were unrealistic, but I also didn’t know enough about what I was doing to fully scope the project and understand WHAT I was committing to, which was the biggest problem.

In the end, I lost my leadership role and was transferred to another position. Which is fine in that I don’t know if I would do THAT much better should I be offered another chance. I don’t think I’m creative enough for the position, or able to produce the best work required by the position. The guy who is taking over (who happens to be my friend) is way more confident, has a clear vision, and is a leader. He’ll do well. He believes in himself and his ideas. I wish I believed in myself but it’s hard when I don’t know what I’m doing.

I’m a bit sad this week because the project was actually launched on time, despite my initial delays that led to me losing my role. There is a lot more to it, but basically my failure to force everything through a new process and timing that I agreed to led to my hitting a wall. In fact, had I not been pregnant, I think I may have lost my job a few weeks ago. I’m not sure. In any case, I am conflicted because I’m proud of the work that I was able to put out and feel like I collaborated fairly effectively with the team, and yet in the end it doesn’t matter because I messed up when it came to certain delivery dates that really had no meaning outside of my setting them.

Talk about self sabotage.

It didn’t help that a project manager came in and threw me under the bus multiple times. That was not a good situation. Again, I take the blame for the dates pushing. She had convinced me that moving the dates for delivery of this one part of the project out a few weeks wouldn’t hurt, and that it was better to be realistic in whatever date I set if I was changing the delivery date. I had a planned vacation in there as well, so the date that was reset to seemed quite far out. I knew it wouldn’t impact the semi-planned launch date (I couldn’t get everyone to agree to a launch date or what launch meant to begin with, which was part of the problem) so against my better judgement (of which I have little) I agreed to the delayed delivery date. I knew this date still gave the team plenty of time to hit the semi-agreed on launch date by end of month for all of the other work that needed to be done once I delivered my part of the project.

Oh, it also happened that the week I was on vacation there was a meeting where my boss joined and the project manager said I decided to move the dates and acted like this was not her idea and she didn’t know why I decided to move the dates or why I was delivering the project so late.

Well, all of this set off a ripple effect of shit sandwich. Everything was hooked up in our project management system so suddenly dates for all the next steps tied to a launch date we never committed to moved out, and everyone freaked out. My boss was unhappy to say the least. I tried to explain that this shift wouldn’t actually move the project launch timeline we committed to (by end of month.) But that didn’t matter. I missed a deadline, which has been an issue of mine that I had to not do again this year, and so, I’m out. Kaput. Well, transferred.

The new role is fine. It’s an opportunity to focus on one area and build processes there and if I can just get shit done on time (and really pad everything even if I get pushback up front on how long the timeline looks) then maybe I can survive the next year and become a better project manager and people will trust me again.

I just wish I was judged for the quality of work and how it will help the business in addition to any pushed deadlines. I should have just said hell with quality and minimized scope. That’s what a true leader would have done. Or any person in their right mind who doesn’t want to lose their job. But I saw the opportunity to do good work and I didn’t want to skimp on anything. This took time and reviews and feedback from a lot of people. I don’t actually love the end result (it’s not even my vision, I took everyone else’s ideas and executed on them generally) but I think it’s solid. I think it will be good for the business. I think it deserves some kind of “not getting fired” recognition for being pretty ok.

What I’m most sad about is I get it now. I could take what I’ve learned and do it so much better next time. But I’ll never have the chance. Not here, anyway. Maybe that’s ok. I can take what I’ve learned and one day apply it elsewhere, even if the processes and people will be different.

On top of this project, I’ve spent the last year building a foundation for a lot of the general processes in my respective area. I’ve done a lot of work that my boss unfortunately doesn’t care about (which is dumb on my part) but I still know it will help the business and maybe, eventually, one day, someone will notice. Or not. But I feel good about that too.

In short, I’ve learned a lot this year and I think I’ve done pretty good work. That is meaningless because I missed deadlines that set and also suck at communication, apparently. Some parts of the communication were easier due to everyone WFH and others were harder. A few slack and email conversations were incorrectly interpreted. There were a lot of cooks in the kitchen and I was just trying to make dinner on time for our guests, but the cooks were all mad at me for delaying parts of the process. Dinner was served on time.

So I’m just frustrated at this point. And unsure if I’d be happier had I met deadlines and kept my role going forward. It would still have been hard, and I still would have struggled to drive alignment and get everyone moving in the same direction. I am sad because my friend (who is very good at his job) was given the role–not because he was given the role–but because of why. Because of all the things he is that I’m not. I’m not jealous or angry or resentful. Just sad. I process things too slowly. I don’t use big words or sound smart and confident when I talk. I don’t have that gusto that is needed where everyone just trusts you and your vision. Nor do I have it in me to put out work that I’m not proud of just to hit deadlines, which seems to be a key skill in leadership. To me, everything needs to make sense. If we’re doing something, we’re doing something that isn’t just to check the box and move on to the next thing. I actually want to put out work that adds value.

I just need to do that faster.

And it’s too late. I have a few weeks left at this point before maternity leave, and I’m already transitioning to my new role. When I come back, I’ll have to build processes from the ground up again. I enjoy doing that, but it puts me at risk for the same issues in a way–because I’m learning how long each part of the process takes and trying to sort that out with a whole other batch of cooks that are slightly different but equally opinionated. I don’t feel good about that. I want to be able to take what I’ve done and learn from it and do better next time, versus start over.

But it doesn’t matter. I don’t get that choice. And to be fair, my boss has given me a lot of runway through the last years, through my mental health issues, through having a baby, through getting a performance plan and then six months later being recognized as a top performer (not by my boss, but still) and then another two months later of letting everything get to me, falling apart, and giving me the opportunity to move to a new role that has less visibility, so I don’t make her look bad. I get it. I’m not upset at that.

I’m sad because I wonder had I just hit those dates, would I still have this job? I know there were other issues with communication and such. I felt like maybe the work I was producing wasn’t good for a while. The more exciting parts of the project requiring more work from others were cut due to reprioritization. I stepped in and filled in the holes versus just accepting that we were cutting a crucial part of the project.

What my colleagues get that I clearly don’t is that you just have to protect yourself. It’s all a game at the end of the day. Good work matters, but we’re already doing good work–that’s why we were hired. What matters is that everyone else sees you as someone they can rely on to deliver. I get that. I don’t know how to do that and also stick to my principles of always delivering high-quality and meaningful work.

In the end, the project was delivered on time, and I’m on-time being delivered to a new position.

I did not get a formal demotion or reduction in pay (likely because of the whole being pregnant thing.) I have no idea what my new title is because things are always so disorganized that no one has brought this up yet. No one has actually even informed me that my coworker is taking over for my role officially. It seems either they are too busy to do this or they are purposefully waiting until I’m on maternity leave to make the transition. However, it’s a whole bunch of awkward given that people keep asking me who will be doing my role and I have to answer them I don’t know. They seemed to want to set this whole thing up to make it look like it was my choice to move into this new role, but they really aren’t giving me a lot to work with to support that story. Meanwhile, if coworker friend takes my title, wtf is my title?

And should I even care? I don’t know what I should care about. My ego is trampled on yet at the end of the day, I still have my paycheck. I am so grateful for that. If I can step back and just look at this whole situation from a purely financial perspective, I’m over-the-moon fortunate, especially given the current state of the world. While there is no guarantee I will still have a job at this time next year, it seems odds are increasingly in my favor. So I should just shut up, stop complaining, and focus on doing a good job in my new role. There is absolutely no reason I cannot, in approximately 18 months, look for a position similar to my original role at another company and try this again, if it makes sense to try this again. I’m not sure yet if that’s what I want to do–but with the experience I do have I can actually go in and make a good first impression versus scrambling to figure out what I’m doing.

I think that will be a good thing.

Fighting With All I’ve Got: The Next 2 Years

I’m acknowledging my job isn’t right. My new position, which is a demotion or lateral move, depending on how you see it, is a better fit. The great news is that my pay hasn’t changed.  The bad(?) news is that I have a new role that is vague that I have to figure out from scratch… just when I was starting to get the hang of the old one. Alas.

I am in an incredibly good position right now if I can just hang on for the next 18 months, give or take. I am going to give it my all. And 6 of those 18 months will be maternity leave, so I’ve got a year to make magic. I’m gonna make magic. And hold my breath and hope I can do really great work, make everyone happy, get my shit done on time, and–in the sleepless blur that is the first year of having a child–get through my final vesting periods and hold on long enough to get my bonus before I find something that is actually a good fit for me (if such a thing exists.)

Now, the stock market could crash. I could get laid off. I could still get fired. Anything could happen. I can’t plan to have the money until I have it. But right now the next 18 months have the chance to set me up for financial success in my forties and FIRE in my early fifties. The next 18 months are everything.

But, really, how do I do this with a newborn? My new boss–a man–has young kids. This might be a good thing, because he understands what goes into having children (old boss, female, does not have kids.) On the other hand, new boss has worked his ass off through the birth of his second kid. I think his wife works but I’m not sure what his childcare situation is. I think at least one of the kids is still going to daycare. We aren’t doing that due to COVID. Anyway, I’m hoping that he will be at least somewhat empathic understanding what goes biologically goes into being the mom of an infant. Or he may think I should be able to work as much as he does because he has done it.

I’m scared. I’m not in a good place going into my maternity leave and coming back I am running a new program that will be kicked off before I get back. Who knows what it will look like at that point. There will be high expectations and I probably won’t know up from down at that point.

My maternity leave should end around June, maybe a bit sooner. I’ll be in a good place as long as I don’t overcommit and get everything done on time for 6 months. Once 2022 hits, I can either decide to double down on my current role and stick it out for the long term (maybe it will be great) or start looking for a new job. On paper, timing overall looks good. It looks like survival is possible.

What is leaving a sour taste is how my colleague is taking my (former) role, and it’s not being communicated to me. I understand they are being cautious since it’s probably a liability to demote a pregnant woman a few months before she goes on leave and put a younger, single male in her place. It also may just seem like a natural transition since I’m going out and he is in the same role already, he just needs to be promoted to my level, which can and will likely happen when I’m out. When I come back–I have a new role–and he’s running the show. Everyone’s happy, right?

If I actually thought this could be a long term thing, if I actually thought I could benefit from the success of the company and my contributions were going to be appreciated ever, I would feel worse about how everything went down. But I’m happy for my friend and it’s a great opportunity for him. And this is a great opportunity for me also. I was so close to being fired last year and this year–maybe due to being pregnant and semi protected (but also due to actually doing a good job for some of this year when I was sleeping ok and could think straight before I got far into my pregnancy) I still have a job. And I’ll likely still have a job through to my maternity leave at the end of this year. And I’ll likely still have a job until the end of next year as I can see how to do enough good stuff that they won’t get rid of me that fast (esp after just coming back from mat leave.)

I am trying so hard to be grateful. Because when I get caught up in feeling sad about everything… about failing and about how I am really not good at the other role I had… it makes it hard to do anything. And I have to do a lot. It doesn’t have to be perfect. But it has to be acceptable and done (and without error, which is what acceptable means.) Nothing else matters. It’s 18 months. At the end of 18 months, my family networth should go from 2M to 2.5M, give or take. The next 18 months are everything. Then — maybe then — I can take a lower paid job that is a better fit. I can work my way up somewhere. I can stop taking these senior-level roles I’m not ready for because I never had a chance to actually learn how to do anything right. I don’t know if that type of job exists… but maybe if I can step back I can work my way up again. I hope.

I’ll Never Be the Leader Corporate America Wants Me to Be

Let’s just say I’ve accepted that I am not like the people who thrive in corporate America — or business, for that matter. I rub people the wrong way, I guess. I don’t make enemies, but I certainly don’t make friends. As others move up like they’re floating on political air, I fall down. Hard. On my face. And I look up and wonder where I went wrong. I know the answer. I went wrong everywhere.

Today, I was notified that I have a new boss via an all team email. I’m still not clear if my soon-to-be ex boss thinks she communicated this to me previously, or she just doesn’t give at shit that this list the way I found out. What hurts more is that I literally asked her last week, when she informed me my role was changing, if that means I’d be reporting to this other person. She told me (clearly lying) that she hadn’t even though about that yet. No, the truth is she had thought about that. She just wasn’t ready to discuss it. And then it got announced and she hadn’t told me officially or unofficially about the change.

Clearly, they don’t care if I stay or leave. There is a minimal amount of respect you provide employees that you want to keep. Because I’m pregnant, and I’ve done enough good work, they know it’s probably not work the liability to let me go 3 months before maternity leave. But that doesn’t mean they have to treat me like a human being. They know I can’t go anywhere between needing my maternity leave coverage and the remainder of my stock. They know that I’m a slave to them — and they can treat me like crap and I can’t do anything about it.

I’m trying so hard to be grateful because I know in any other situation I’d probably be done for. Instead, I have a chance to prove myself in a subset of what I’ve been doing all along. I can maybe do an ok job. They seem to like my work in this area. There is no potential for career growth there. I find it hard to be motivated when I’m bumping into a ceiling. I’m overpaid for the role (I guess a good problem to have) and that leaves me more stuck than ever.

My new boss and I also didn’t get off to a good start last year. I think we’ve made amends since, but he certainly isn’t a fan of mine. My “get off the train by July 2022” is still the game plan — the questions are–can I make it that long, and where the hell do I go next?

There are things I’d like to do. Things I think I might be better at. But how? I’m going to be 37. I’m a mom of 2 kids. I want another before I turn 39. I know people make career changes at forty, but those people do not have a 7000 a month mortgage and a husband who works part time. The reality is that I can keep doing what I’m doing… in another company… start over… get a job that pays 150k-200k and with my father-in-law and husband’s contributions we can afford the mortgage. And that’s the next 30 years of my life, I guess. That’s 15 more jobs if I last 2 years at each of them on average. If I’m lucky enough to keep getting the same level job as I get older. People don’t like to hire older people for these jobs. I may find eventually I can’t get a job. Then what?

I don’t think I was that horrible at the job I’ve been demoted from. I was horrible at pieces of it. I was horrible at figuring out exactly what to do. I was horrible about being able to take everyone’s ideas and make that into something that made sense. I was horrible at executing on anything because I couldn’t make senes of what I was doing. I missed deadlines because I have too much anxiety and want to make things that are perfect and know that I’m not actually smart enough to do the work so I get stuck and have no one to run my work by to get their feedback because my boss wasn’t interested I helping me in that way. She wanted someone who could run with things and lead. Get shit done. I wasn’t that person. I faked it decently for a bit this year. I thought it was going well. I was recognized by the head of our department as “MVP” of the quarter, which made me feel ill when it was announced because I knew everyone on the team, including my boss, was rolling their eyes. Two months later this MVP is being demoted–so, clearly that title wasn’t deserved. It all makes me feel sick.

I just have to get through the next 15 months at a minimum. The amount of stock on the table is life changing / pay for my kid’s college and build a better safety net so if I can’t get a job for a while ever in the next 30 years I might be ok. I’ve got a hard road ahead–maybe not in the next 3 months before maternity leave where I’m wrapping up projects and doing my best to be my best and hit all committed deadlines and communicate the best I can–but in those 6-18 months when I come back from leave and need to do incredible work while also not sleeping well due to having a baby. I did not fare well in my first year back after having my son, so I have no reason to think this will be any better.

The good news is my new boss–who certainly would fire me to protect himself–also has kids around the same age, and maybe has a smidgen of empathy for me as a new mom (vs my soon-to-be ex boss who is in her forties and does not have children.) I think between a small safety net of HR not wanting to fire a woman who just came back from maternity leave immediately and the fact that I can actually do a decent job was what my new job is (though I know I’ll never be great at it) I think I can hold on tooth and nail to at least make it until the end of the year, and then start looking for a new job. I have no idea what I’ll be looking for. I wish I had the ability to figure out what career I would be happy in and then actually make that happen.

But I’m super stuck. Stuck in the best place possible, and grateful for it, but also extremely sad. Sad because I’m turning 37 and I’m no better off than I was in my 20s when I didn’t know what I was doing in my life. It doesn’t look pretty on a woman in her late 30s. I’m sure my boss thinks I’m pathetic. I mean, my ex-boss. She is probably counting the days until they can get rid of me. That motivates me to do better. To try to change their narrative about me. But I’ve realized I can’t live a lie. I’m not polished. I’m awkward. I ramble and have a poor short term memory so it’s difficult to converse with others in a proper way. I’m known for putting out good work sometimes, but not for inspiring others to do great work. I’ll never be a leader. So what then can I aspire to be?