Monday, May 23, 2011

Executing the Transition Plan

Tomorrow is the start of my second full week of official maternity leave. In Germany expecting mothers are required to stop working six weeks before the due date and are not permitted to return to work less than eight weeks after the birth date. After the birth, both parents – so the Mr. and I – have 14 months to share at something like 70% pay so that we can spend dedicated time with our little one. In our case, I will have nine of those months; the Mr. will have five. In addition, one or both of us can register for parental leave for up to three years, protecting us from losing our job and giving us the right to work part-time.

I am grateful for these benefits and protections. It is quite difficult to image being this pregnant, uncomfortable and slightly bitchy and still being expected to perform at work. I do pay slightly higher taxes for these benefits but it seems more than worth it to me.*

Yet, as grateful and as thankful as I am, I’ve been working more or less full-time since 1998. I identify with my work and I have taken great pride in doing my various jobs – waitress, secretary, teacher, consultant, writer, communicator, and change manager – extremely well. I approach my work with intensity, with a need to succeed, and with a piece of myself. Over the past four years I’ve had to learn to say “no” more often and better clarify the working me and the ME me, but I have not and most likely will never lose the joy of working and working hard. Sure the role, the company, the pay, the speed, and the location will change many times over the course of my career, but I am positive that I will be a results kinda person until I die. Most of those results will come from my career – whatever form it may have – and my hobbies.**

Which brings me to the first sentence of this blog: tomorrow is the start of my second full week of official maternity leave. And I’m doing okay. Yes, I’ve cheated a little bit: I used my professional experience to create a personal transition plan months ago; I check my work emails every other day or so; and I went into the office once. Yes, I have gotten lost in the expanse of free time a few times; I do miss seeing the hundreds of people every day that roam my office building; and I really miss feeling pressure to succeed as well as the joy of having succeeded. But 90% of the time I’ve been reading, quilting, writing, blogging, skyping, sleeping, walking, eating cake, printing pictures, sitting in the sun, and just generally doing all those things that I haven’t had time to really enjoy (or when I had the time, not the money) since 1998.

Want to know a secret? I’m enjoying it.

Here is to a possible four more weeks until our little guy makes his grand entrance.

*The difference in taxes really is slight, something between 5 and 10%. Check out some starting information here for the average US tax rate from 2007 and some information about the average German tax rate.
**All jokes of “non-revenue generating projects” aside, may I please somehow be wise enough not to turn my children into results-driven projects.


Teresa said...

=) i am so excited for you sister!!!

Sarah Muench said...

EATING CAKE!!!! I am jealous of your time off. I am not going to lie! Have fun, lady. Can't wait to see the little one!!!!

Pickles and Onions said...

Thanks ladies. We are so thrilled to and I hereby promise many, many (annoyingly many) pictures!

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