I was re-reading the article about stagnation that Adam Grant wrote during the pandemic. He talked about not being happy or fulfilled, but also not being depressed. He felt something in between the two. He was being productive, so it wasn’t like he was just lazing around doing nothing, but something just didn’t feel right. And he concluded he just felt stagnant.
That’s how I’d been feeling when I went back to work about four weeks ago. I was getting things done, attending Zoom meetings, taking notes, providing action items, getting training done, but I just felt blegh and meh. I didn’t feel fulfilled, and I felt annoyed that I couldn’t be in the next room taking care of my own baby; I couldn’t do the job I really wanted, which was to take care of my own child. A number of mom friends shared this sentiment with me when they returned to work after having their first children. It’s something most moms don’t want to admit out loud in fear of being judged for wanting what is stereotypically female, but they nevertheless feel. I’ve been really lucky in my postpartum journey: I had a quick and easy recovery. I bonded right away with my baby. I started exercising again after six weeks. I had a supportive partner who took an egalitarian approach to parenting. The worst part that I struggled with was pumping, but I finally came to accept it as the choice I actively made for the benefit of my baby and her health. But overall, I really loved and still love my new role as a mother. There is really no job I’ve ever had that has felt more fulfilling and meaningful than this one. So when I started feeling stagnant, I felt kind of guilty. A lot of moms who’d had rough recoveries or postpartum depression/anxiety would kill to be in my shoes.
But in the last week or so, I’ve finally started feeling better. I researched things to do and eat in Philadelphia for our trip. I’ve been actively cooking things I’ve wanted to make and researching more things to cook and bake. It’s part of what Adam Grant says you need to do to break stagnation: find your “flow” where you get totally absorbed into something and just feel energized by it. So no surprise here, but food was my way to do that. I feel a little more like myself and like there is more to life than just my day job and being a pumping princess.