I’ve arrived at the two-year mark from where my story was set in motion. So I thought I might embark upon the journey of documenting the road, which began in, and eventually led to, Brazil. I’m hoping that retracing my path will help me work through the crossroads that I am currently facing. I must decide between continuing to purse what I set out to do and facing the reality of our situation, which means attempting to fold myself back into a career, now in a foreign country.
We were in Buzios for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. It was a trip we almost didn’t go on. My firm was one of the more popular in the dance of the 2008 financial industry crash and we were merging (i.e. being taken over) by another company. Just prior to our trip, I was being dragged in full-force to the merger process, a paperwork and spreadsheet nightmare of indescribable stature. From a career perspective, the most logical choice would have been to cancel our trip. But there was already something that has started to stir inside me, and instead I decided we should keep our plans. I would work and attempt to get done what needed to get done from Brazil. After all, much like my colleagues and my husband, I was accustomed to spending part of my vacations working. So there I sat, on conference calls during cocktail parties, on my computer while others were at the beach. I began to reflect on where exactly I was in my life, and where I wanted to go.
My group had recently reorganized and I was performing a much bigger job in the hopes of actually being able to keep my position, as was most everyone else at the firm. The reorganization meant that I was no longer working for my boss, for who the immense respect I had kept me motivated.
The new job (though possibly temporary, as all of us were required to go through an “interview” process for our positions that could last months) kept me at work most hours of the day, and when at home, kept me tied to my laptop. There were also plans to relocate my department to other part of the city – away from our apartment and no longer making me qualified to keep my daughter at the daycare in my office building. This meant I would have to again consider hiring a nanny, and I absolutely did not warm to the idea of a stranger being alone with my daughter all day long. In addition, the chances of making the same money were pretty much desperate, since the media was on a bonus witch-hunt.
So the equation that kept me sane while trying to work full-time and be a mother (great boss + convenient location + good money) was being busted.
But in reality, I had spent the past year miserable. I’ve always tried to do my best at whatever worthy challenge is presented to me. Trying to excel at my job and excel at motherhood was torture for me. I always felt like I was failing at something. This impacted my health, my marriage and my relationship with my daughter.
Buzios (Armação dos Búzios), Brazil is a gorgeous city on the ocean, a few hours drive east of Rio de Janeiro. It is, to date, the most beautiful place I’ve seen thus far in the world. This fishing village/resort town was made famous in the 60’s by frequent visitor Brigitte Bardot. With a quaint downtown area and more than twenty beaches along it’s coast, it’s difficult not to find escape in this place. It was here that I realization came over me and I made my decision.
We were staying at my mother-in-law’s house, located just across from Ossos beach. One afternoon Sophia had a melt-down of extreme measures. Crying hysterically and screaming like a horror movie starlet, she stomped and hit and threw herself on the floor. And I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know why she was upset. I didn’t know how to make it stop. Then it hit me, as they say, like a ton of bricks. I barely knew this little girl.
Someone else had been raising my daughter. Multiple people actually. After my three months of maternity leave, my mother came to stay with us for three months to take care of Sophia. And then my mother-in-law followed. When Sophia was nine months old, she entered the daycare that was sponsored by my company and located twenty floors beneath my office in a building that was four blocks from our apartment. For all of this, I was truly grateful. I know that most other working mothers did not have such a good deal. But the reality was I spent a minimal amount of time with my child.
I could no longer compromise the things that were important to me. One of them had to go…