Maternity Leave in Progress: sayonara for now

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So after much agonizing over what I ought to do with WiP during my leave, I did what I always do and punted to someone with more brain cells: in this case, chief pooh-bah Josh. I offered two options:

1. Keep going, albeit at a slower pace and in a more personal vein.
2. Hang an Out of Office shingle.

As a brand new dad himself, Josh says he has awakened to the value of a real maternity leave—and thus chose the latter. I think it’s the first time in my life that I offered to work during a company-sanctioned leave of absence and my boss turned me down.

My reaction to the impending blogcation wasn’t elation or even relief. First of all, being asked to stop writing, even for obvious reasons, flares up all my writerly insecurities (isn’t this kind of like being fired?). Second, giving up the best part of my job, even for a finite term, totally bums me out. I wake up at 3 a.m. thinking of posts (okay, I wake up to pee, but then I can’t get back to sleep because I’m thinking of posts). Now what’ll I do with all the totally original observations I’ll have about the world of work while I examine the contents of my newborn’s diapers?

The fact is that blogging has changed the nature of work for me. Not so long ago, my job was all about getting in the magazine—a multistep, often infernally frustrating process that involves a half-dozen colleagues and could drag out weeks or even months. Very occasionally, after a story ran, I might receive an e-mail from a reader, or a hand-written letter if the reader happened to be a crazy person. Sometimes the letters department would run edited reader commentary that I would get to read only when it published. A magazine writer is an island.

This forum has plucked me off that island and plonked me into what I like to think of as The Office, but with colleagues I adore. I’m not ranting alone by the water cooler anymore; the blog lets me spew my thoughts, notes and interviews on work life, but that’s only the start. You toss back your clever comments, insightful ideas and your own illuminating experiences. It’s a conversation, the one we’d have over Danish in the kitchen until the boss stalks by and we all scuttle back to our desks.

What I’m trying to say is thank you. Thanks for letting me lurk around your cubicle for nearly two years now. Thanks for stopping by my virtual desk a few minutes a day, even without the incentive of a Hershey’s Nugget from my snack drawer. Thanks for confirming my belief that TIME has a community of whip-smart, take-no-crap readers—the kind of readers I’d be proud to call my friends.

If you’ll indulge me, I’ll post some baby pics when I get my act together. My plans beyond that are hazy: once I’m somewhat upright, I’ll take the tots and spend two months in Japan caring for my ailing and elderly parents. When I do return to the office, I have every intention of picking up in this space again. So leave me on your e-mail or RSS feed, won’t you? Until then, this is Work in Progress heading off to the delivery room—and a new chapter as a working mom of two.