These past few months have been a whirlwind. Sometimes I feel like I’m dreaming and waiting for someone to bring me back to reality.
They say you should only have one major life change in a year. This year, I’ve tripled that.
We bought a house (still in progress).
And last week, probably the scariest change for me… I quit my job.
This was a huge decision I debated an agonized over for about a year. When my daughter was born my husband was finishing school, and in the process of applying to start his new career, so he stayed home with her until she was a year old. That’s when she finally started daycare. It made going back to work so much easier for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was still hard, but not as hard as it could have been.
This time, my husband and I staggered our leaves. I took off 12 weeks and right now he’s off for 6. But we both have demanding careers with crazy hours at odd times, and unless we wanted preschool and daycare during the week, plus a nanny on the weekend (in other words, childcare available 7 days a week), once he goes back, something had to be done.
I love my job. LOVE my job. And the career I’ve practically worked my whole life for. Yes, I love my kids more, but I didn’t want to have to choose one or the other.
Recently I’d read one too many articles about stay at home moms regretting staying home. It’s made me worry I’d someday fall into that category. Not hating time spent with the kids, but frustrated for not keeping up with my career.
I don’t feel like “stay at home mom material.” I don’t cook, I hate cleaning, and I really just like working, and having something for myself. But I also see my son growing so much every single day, and if my husband isn’t going to be home with him this first year or so, I think I’d like to be. Even my daughter, who thrives in social atmospheres like preschool, loves when I come home from work and tells me she misses me when I’m gone.
During a week of day-long summer camp, by day four, she was holding on to me a little longer as I dropped her off, and I could tell where she’d rather be.
Inside I was completely torn, and almost daily I went back and forth on my decision. Then the signs started coming.
Opportunities to write from home started to appear. My blog load at BabyCenter picked up a bit, and I’ve found potential to occasionally partner with clients on this blog. It’s not full-time work but it’s something.
My mom asked me what my ideal situation would be and I told her working outside the home a few days a week, still having a career, but still being there for my children. I just didn’t know how to piece that all together. She encouraged me to go for it, take a leap and figure it out as I go.
Things started to piece together but I couldn’t commit to a decision. Which meant I’d just keep doing what I was doing. But I prayed for one more sign. I just needed one more prompting, preferably obvious to tell me what I should do. I wanted to be sure.
Then one night I went to Panda Express for free orange chicken. I opened my fortune cookie and was floored:
My husband claims it’s just a blanket statement that could be applied to anyone, but when I then asked him how it applied to him personally he said “your job!” Well, ok then mister, it isn’t as universal as you thought!
Now, I didn’t quit my job because a fortune cookie told me so. But that, on top of everything else I had been feeling finally put me over the edge of my teetering decision.
Hopeful to end on good terms, and continue some kind of working relationship; but ready to leave everything, I gave my notice of resignation. My stomach was in knots the entire week leading up to it, but the meeting couldn’t have gone better.
After a few discussions and negotiations amongst people way over my pay grade, I was hired to freelance two of my pieces for my station. My adoption segment, and my parenting segment. So I’ll continue to go to work a couple days a week, and complete those stories around my family’s schedule.
I’m working on a rigorous series up until my last full-time day, and I’ll switch to part-time after it’s complete.
Other plans are in the works to continue to freelance write, blog, and do photography/videography, but I’m taking things slow. The idea isn’t to continue to work full-time hours, but hopefully about 20 a week total. I’ve been researching part-time preschools for Lil’ J until she’s four, then I’ll look into something she can do everyday.
As for Big T… He’ll be with his mama and papa almost all the time, which I’m excited about. There will be a funky 2-week overlap of our schedules, where he’ll go to the daycare at his sister’s preschool until I’m done with my full-time schedule. I think those two weeks will be when it really hits me why I’m making this change.
For the last five years, aside from maternity leave an vacation time, I’ve worked every weekend. I can finally make Saturday morning family events and Sunday church. I can get to know a congregation I’ve technically been a part of for years but barely know. I feel like I’ve sacrificed a part of myself for a period of time, and now I can get it back.
The amount of thankfulness, relief, and appreciation I feel is completely overwhelming. Every day since then, I’ve been constantly saying silent prayers of gratitude. It’s like a dream. I hope it lasts a while.