After being home with the two boys for the winter, re-entry to Mulletville Corp has been a bit trying.
Granted there are some perks to re-entering the workforce. Like, I now know what day of the week it is. I have a reason to brush my hair and change my underwear.
I get to enjoy the wit of co-workers (e.g., after showing a colleague a letter I received in which the addresser wrote “Dear Mrs. Mullet, Director of Pubic Relations” I now get a lot of inter-office mail addressed to that title).
And (dare I say it?) the quiet calm of my office can be delicious. Some mornings I feel downright guilty leaving Chuck flailing in a sea of children’s tears. I don’t have to manage the meltdown over toast that wasn’t cut to a four-year-old’s specifications or the cranky fits of a teething eight-month-old.
Ah, peace and quiet.
But things have changed at Mulletville Corp in the seven months I’ve been out on maternity leave. There are talks of layoffs and cuts in health benefits. Company lunches have turned into no frills, pot luck get-togethers in someone’s car. No one is allowed to order copier paper or pens without senior approval.
You know times are tough when you need a secret password to get sticky notes.
Yes, people look grim—so grim that the Marketing Head has charged me, the Director of Pubic Relations, with a call-to-action to boost morale.
So I’ve been walking around the building a lot, asking people about activities we could plan that would help them feel better.
I don’t know if the economy has beaten people to such pulp that they’d confide in a tree stump or if people mistake my forced interest for introspective concern, but holy frick, people want to talk for hours—and they don’t want to talk about what they can do to boost morale, they want to talk about why morale is so damn low.
I’m starting to feel like a free shrink.
In the last week I’ve learned more about the personal tragedies of the people of Mulletville Corp than I ever dreamed possible. The weird thing is that everyone's confessional concludes the same way. They say, "Cherish every moment because it goes so quickly."
Some have even heightened the dramatic impact of their parting wisdom by clutching my hand or looking me pointedly in the eye (except for the guy with the lazy eye: he looked me in the boob).
The first few times I heard it, I walked away thinking, Yes, we should cherish each moment. The next few times I thought, Yup, I’ll try. The last few times I walked away thinking, For fuck’s sake okay, I get it.
Here’s the thing: I understand we need to treasure life because we don’t know when our number will be up, but you cannot possibly cherish each and every moment of your life. Your head would explode.
Besides, not every moment is worth cherishing.
Sometimes a drive in the car is just that. If you spend that car ride treasuring your personal freedom to drive and your financial success at owning a vehicle and your functioning ears that enable you to listen to the radio and your glasses that allow you to marvel at the beautiful scenery (sorry Connecticut-dwellers, that doesn’t apply to you), you might miss the turn.
To my co-workers who weighted down their wisdom with the “Children grow so fast, savor every second” stuff, I.Get.It. Ohmigawd do I get it.
I know in a blink of an eye my children will be teenagers. I know that too soon they’ll be grown with families of their own and I’ll be left with nothing more than an empty house full of memories but again, you cannot possibly siphon out the warm fuzzies from every second of your children’s youth.
Nor do I want to.
In fact, what I wish for my co-workers—and for myself after being accosted with all this dire seize-life-by-the-balls-right-NOW gook—is to banish the “cherish every moment” thoughts entirely. They are a direct impediment to the blissful state of just being, and it’s in that plain Jane state of just being that the aha moments come. The moments when the Universe gives you a beautiful gift that you hadn’t been trying to force. The moments when you realize that everyone surrounding you at that exact moment is the warmest, safest blessing.
The very moments you want to, you know, cherish.
About me: I'm 42 and added another gherkin to our pickle party of a family. My husband Chuck, our 9-year-old Junior, our 6-year-old Everett, our toddler and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). When I'm not busy working as a graphic designer, I lie in a ball in the corner.