Last day of work jitters: confessions of a Maxxinista

So. Tomorrow is my last day. And I’m freaking out.

I’ve had two months to prepare for this. And I have not been lying; I do feel good about it, it’s a blessing in disguise and an opportunity and so on. I really do believe that. But around 3:00 this afternoon, as I was chopping vegetables for tonight’s dinner, anxiety grabbed me. My brain started tingling, all the hairs on the back of my neck and arms raised and my stomach knotted.

I recognized that feeling.  It’s the one I get the day before an early flight, or a big presentation, or an interview. But I was not expecting it before my last day of work, when absolutely nothing is expected of me beyond turning in my computer and graciously saying goodbye (which will include saying goodbye to my computer; I’m going to miss you, you lovely MacBook Air, you).

I dealt with this anxiety in a way I often do: I went shopping.

I know; I have created for myself a list of ten things that make me happy, and I did none of them. Instead, I went to T.J. Maxx. I know that shopping while stressed is not advised – it’s said to lead to irrational decisions and overspending.Also, it’s probably not the best choice of stress-reliever when your source of stress is a lost income.

The good news is that I have a unique combination of conditions (I’m a bargain hunter to a fault, picky in no particularly fashionable way and, as of Rory’s arrival, mildly deformed in the abdominal region in a way that makes finding clothes that fit more difficult) that tend to minimize the financial damage.

I was shopping “aspirationally.” As a birthday gift to each other (and while we still have our nanny) Pat and I are taking our first two-night trip sans kiddies to Charleston, South Carolina, this week. I should be excited about it but instead, it’s causing its own anxiety because

a) With each passing minute, the trip I’ve been looking forward to for two months is that much closer to being over (I know, how screwed up is that?)

b) I have nothing to wear

Now of course I have something to wear. But I have always envied those people who seem to have the perfect thing to wear for every occasion: Sunday brunch. Yoga class. Painting the kitchen (always the jaunty neckerchief). I have never been one of these people.

Yesterday, it occurred to me that I MUST have a maxi dress for Charleston. Of course I’m multiple years late on the trend – and at least a month late for the season in stores – but in my visions of walking along the Battery on a hot July evening, with no concerns of bedtime or hurrying home to the babysitter, I’m wearing a brightly colored, exquisitely flattering, flowing maxi dress, and apparently have solved any bra strap issues that come with it.

Coming out of today’s shopping trip, the maxi dress is not to be. Instead, I picked up a pair of shorts, a tank top, a book for each of the boys for when we’re gone (Llama Llama Nighty-Night for Rory, Mighty Machines: Questions and Answers for Noah) and a whisk (the T.J. Maxx checkout chute does an excellent job reminding me of my kitchen tools deficiencies). But I also saw this mug in the checkout line. And while I’m not usually one for trite motivational lines, I have to say, this one got to me. I didn’t walk out of T.J. Maxx with a maxi dress, but I got what I needed.