A couple of weeks ago, shortly before my health hit the proverbial fan, I was called into my boss' office. He commended me on how strong of an employee I have been and then informed me that he has submitted my name for highest consideration in a very high leadership position within the hospital. The details were relatively vague in regards to timing, but he told me that I should consider this recommendation to be solid, to begin preparing to take on this role in the future and that, essentially, he would begin grooming me for this more formally upon my return from maternity leave.
This is huge. This is the kind of thing that doesn't get offered to 30-year-olds. I spent the rest of day in disbelief and shock. This was mixed with a huge sense of honor, pride, and recognition.
I am still in shock when I really think about it. The outcome of the meeting was that I should continue doing what I've been doing in my current position, but with mental preparation and eventual logistic preparation to take on a dramatically different leadership role at some point in the future.
This poses some obvious challenges. First of all, many of the big projects I am currently working on will likely need to be handed over, but when or to whom is unknown, and I am not to let that influence my current work on them. Secondly, I had begun fantasizing about taking my foot off the gas pedal a little once having a baby, and had even considered trying to negotiate working a four-day workweek. I'm not sure if I ever would have actually felt comfortable putting those fantasies into reality, as I am generally so career-driven and value this aspect of my identity so much, but it definitely felt like the rug was ripped from underneath me in one short, vague conversation. Any previous notion I was feeling to take a step back, lighten my load, or stop trying to be so damn impressive all the time was immediately squashed. It has been replaced now with a greater drive to commit to the career and the hospital and prove that I really am worthy of such a recommendation and position.
Writing this out on a forum that has been almost entirely dedicated to my greatest goal over the past few years of having a child makes me feel uneasy. Is this what working mother guilt feels like? I haven't even had her yet and I am already giving up on the idea of putting family obligations higher on my priority list to commit more fully to my career. Yet, I am not wavering in the decision to pursue this opportunity. Maybe I'm still naive, still able to buy into the notion that it is possible to have both successful career and fulfilling family life. I have the feeling this will definitely be tested in the year(s) to come.