This year I left my job at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) to raise my daughter full-time. Here is a farewell letter I wrote at 4 in the morning (after nursing) to my colleagues (the version I actually sent was *much* shorter!).
Subject: On mothering (and a farewell)
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I have decided to leave the Division of Safety and Permanence so that I can be with my child full-time. My last day at work will be January 4. I want to thank you for making DCF such a wonderful place to work.
I’m amazed at what we’ve accomplished in the last five years. To name but a few: Agencies are paying more attention to locating relatives and connecting them with children who need them; we’ve made advancements to improve the way we serve immigrant children; and we’ve finally combined the safety and permanence case processes for better, more consistent practice. We’ve completely revamped the way we assess children, parents, and foster parents, and I believe that the findings from the resulting data could change the way we do child welfare in Wisconsin. Remember when ICWA was a mere mention in the state statutes? We’ve certainly come a long way. Somehow, I will always feel like a parent (one of many) to Levels of Care, Act 79, the PIP, and others. Because I put my whole being into those projects, and the passion and work it required (usually) had its rewards.
One prepares as best they can when getting ready for their first child. We know it will take sacrifice and devotion, but there’s no real way to ever truly know what it feels like until it happens. Those first three months when you’re in a sleep-deprived delirium, and there’s this human whose very existence depends solely on you, it almost feels like an out of body experience as you watch yourself giving completely to that tiny person whom you love with every ounce of your being. You realize then that this is ultimate selflessness, and yet you feel completely fulfilled. You’re giving yourself away yet at the same time feel more complete than you ever have before. Finally, it feels, this is who you were always meant to be.
Perhaps what I’m describing is simply unconditional love – when you love because you want to, not because you’re waiting for anything in return. With a child it’s so instinctual, you find yourself giving everything without hesitation. At the end of the day, I guess that’s what we’re trying to do here at DCF: make Wisconsin a place where every mother and father has the support and guidance they need to do what’s instinctual in providing for their child. If we can do that, we’ve accomplished the world.
So thank you again for the opportunity to be a part of that vision. Thank you for teaching me, for your passion, your guidance, and sometimes, for putting up with me. I will miss you. And please stay in touch! I assume that before I leave (or, given the holidays, soon thereafter) we’ll be raising a glass together to celebrate life’s unexpected turns. When we do I’ll be sure that Scott and Alzette are there as well. Those of you who have already met her (or anyone’s child, but I’m partial to mine) know that while on the one hand my decision to leave DCF was a difficult one, on the other hand, it was pretty darn easy.