Here's my tip for making big life decisions: order Chinese food and follow the fortunes. I usually get really stupid fortunes, like "you are a nice person," or "your attitude will change someday." When we ordered from our favorite delivery place last week, I got a fortune that chilled my spine:
"You have a strong desire for a home and your family comes first."
I actually got this the night Zenia left us, which was 2 days before my "big conversation" with my firm. Man, those Chinese really know something. I should have played the lottery that night.
I did show up at my firm this morning to return my iPhone and say my goodbyes. I told my assistant that I didn't want to see anyone because I would start to cry, but she ignored that and called out to the other attorneys who all very graciously wished me well. We will file this appearance under the category of "NEW BEHAVIOR," because, really, wouldn't it be so much easier to just mail the stuff I owed them and never step foot in there again? I call that little maneuver "going out the back door," and it's been a personal favorite all my life. I like to leave quietly, not leave a mark and avoid anything messy like, say, feelings. Not today. I wore my happy periwinkle pants (nothing says new phase of life like periwinkle pants) and my son and strode in the front door and then left through the same front door. No freight elevator or phoning it in for me.
As I left the building, I did what I used to always do when I left my office stressed: I headed straight to Ann Taylor Loft for some tasty retail treats. I will have you know that cargo pants and light cotton tops were on sale. I perused. I thought of all the ways I could justify some wardrobe additions, given my new job title as CEO of Sadie+Simon. But, really, I just decluttered enough Ann Taylor Loft clothes to keep a small nation in business casual wear for a fiscal quarter. The thought of having to declutter again after buying clothes just because I didn't want to feel lonely or sad or anxious seemed unwise. So, I powered myself on out of ATL and called a friend to tell her I felt really sad leaving my firm; I also felt a little shame for not jumping on the full-time, partner-track train; and also I felt some joy that all the things I really want can't be found in the law firm (or at ATL). I know this because I tried the firm life, complemented by anything I want from ATL for about 7 years.
I am ready for something else. Something more. This afternoon, I got to come home and have lunch with Sadie and then put her down for a nap. Then, I got to hang out with Simon and try to take a nap with him. He snores so loud I couldn't sleep, but I got to relax and do some motherly gazing at my son. I can't think of anything I have done at ATL that would match the sense of peace and connection I feel when I am laying down with Simon being present with him. There will come a time when we spend less time together-- when I get a job and when he goes to school. I am sure I won't be napping with him when he goes to college, because that would be awkward and I hate the smell of dorms. It's for today.
This is an extraordinarily good life and it's mine. I may not be bringing in the big bucks right now (or any bucks at all), but I have a heart overflowing with love and gratitude, which has to count for something.