For almost two years I have been a pediatric trauma social worker in an emergency department of a Level 1 Trauma Center Hospital. It's been a job that certainly has had its frustrations (see the whole Cubicle Chronicles series for proof of that).
It's also been a job that had challenged me in many of the best ways possible. I've grown. I've learned. I've challenged my own beliefs and stereotypes. I've sat with families who are acutely grieving their children. I have seen some of the horrific things people do to each other and found that I have the strength to see it through. I have been embraced and taught by nurses, techs, doctors, other social workers, and all the other people it takes to run this kind of joint. I've learned which kinds of antibiotics you should use for which kinds of STD's (pharmacists talk about that crap a lot. Also, I didn't say everything I'd learned has been helpful). I can now even stomach the site of blood and not cry when I see a needle (that's huge for me, people!). There is no doubt that I have become a much better social worker. And I don't know that there has ever been a job that has suited me better.
There is also no doubt that while working this job, I have become a worse mother, a worse friend, a worse wife. While I've loved being at this job, when I'm here, I'm missing out on my children's lives. My children no longer complain when I leave to go to work. E simply says, "you go to work again, Momma?", sighs and walks away; it's become their normal. And that's not okay. Heck, I'm missing out on my own life. So, try as I might to make the professional fulfillment I've found here mesh with my other roles in life, I've not been able to do it. My husband, our marriage, my children, and many others, they've all suffered.
And so, on this Thanksgiving, I am so very thankful for the growth and opportunities my ED job as provided me and equally thankful for my new job. One that will allow me to be more present for my children and my husband. One that doesn't involve working nights, weekends, or holidays. One that will hopefully help me continue to grow. I don't know that it will give me the same kind of professional fulfillment that I've had in this one. But I'm okay with that. Because what I need more than professional fulfillment right now, is my kids. And what they need is me.
Also, this new job, well, it even comes with an actual office, y'all, with a door and everything. Goodbye, tiny 4ft x 6ft cubicle shared with two other women. You, I am thrilled to walk away from.
So, as I walk out of the ED for the last time just over an hour from now, a place and job that has meant so much to me for the last 2 years, I am so thankful for what I've learned and accomplished. And so very grateful for what's to come.