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Monday, October 11, 2010

Am I Glad I Quit My Day Job?

Warning to Readers: I am extremely fortunate to have a husband whose job provides for our needs and then some. I recognize what an awesome privilege it is to stay at home. I realize not every family can have a mother at home to raise the kiddos for many reasons. That said - I think more could. For many of us it is a choice. This is the why behind my choice.


A friend and loyal reader (thanks Erin!) asked me the subject question the other day. She also asked if I missed filling out spreadsheets and doing something called WEEMOS. And while I have always loved rocking out a spreadsheet - full of hidden columns and complicated formulas - I've never heard of a WEEMO.

I have an answer for her...but as with most things, I feel an explanation is in order. So grab a cup of coffee and hang out for a minute. : )

Growing up I was not one of those girls who always knew they wanted to be a mom. While I knew I would have children one day, I thought to myself, "having kids is something all women are equipped to do. It's biological. Of course I'll BE a mom - but I want to be MORE than a mom." Clearly first I'd get an education, a job, a life, a purpose, etc. (Oh yeah and a husband. Check.)

To be honest I wondered why girls who "just" wanted to be moms didn't have more ambition. Didn't they know that anyone could be a mom but not just anyone could be an archaeologist?

Fast forward to May 2009 -

The Squirt is born. I take 10 weeks off and then dive back into the corporate world, feeling totally super-womanesque. Making cold calls, nursing a baby, pretty much kicking a#& and taking names.

And it sucked.

Sucky-suck-suck-sucked.

I was working from home, part-time, making good money and it still sucked.

The kiddo never stayed asleep while I was having very very important conversations about which theme Hallmark was going to go with for their 2010 Halloween candy order. I couldn't buh-lieve the Squirt did not want to be Baby Bjorned (yup, just made that a verb) around a warehouse while I inventoried and packed up HomeGoods' monstrosity of a Christmas program for shipment.

I slowly began to see my oh-so posh employment for what it was - a J.O.B.

There were moments of glamour - Hey that's my product! In a Fifth Avenue window!!

But there were plenty of moments of drudgery as well.

The time I worked alone in the un-air conditioned warehouse until 2am counting cases of cookies (over three thousand of them) to be sure we had a complete order? Drudgery.

The (many) times I'd get a West Coast client request at 5pm and have to fight rush hour traffic to the office, print off labels and get samples to FedEx before 7pm? Drudgery.

Not glamorous. At least, no more so than changing a dirty diaper.
Not fulfilling. Definitely no more so than warming a bottle for a screaming child.

I began to question the priorities I'd set for myself and the assumptions I made about working vs. mothering.
  • Did working really use more of my brain than mothering?
  • Was my magna cum laude graduating with honors college education wasted if I chose to "just" stay home?
  • Would I lose all sense of self-worth if I couldn't point to some job and say, "I'm a ..."
That last one was my biggest hurdle. Intrinsically I knew that being a mom was important and a task that would benefit greatly from both intelligence and ambition. But the issue of not having a job...of being "just" a mom....would people think I couldn't hack it in the real world? Would people no longer recognize my exceptionalism as an individual?

(You may be laughing to yourself...but these are the things my vain and prideful self worries over. What "other people" who may or may not actually exist think of my personal life and decisions.)

In the end I decided the answers to those questions mattered less than fully focusing on the task of raising this one little man.

I struggled for quite a few months when I first bid adeiu to the bosses. When people asked whether I was still working I would hem and haw, trying to make staying at home sound like something it was not. I was quick to tell anyone interested what I used to do, to reassure them that I had a brain and once upon a time put it to use quite frequently.

I've now come to terms with the fact that I'm a stay at home mom. I no longer care what "other people" think that says about my ambition in life or my intelligence. I value my own opinion pretty highly (ahh the pride issue once again...) and personally think this choice is a better one than working outside the home.

That doesn't mean I always enjoy it. In fact, I was in tears last week over the fact that my baby wouldn't nap and my pregnant belly was in the way of EVERYTHING and our health insurance premiums were going up by 30%. Last week I would have gladly punted this mom gig and taken hold of spreadsheets and WEEMOMS with reckless abandon. Pay me?! For having a little cubicle all to myself or socializing with adults ALL DAY?! Yes please.

But I found encouragement in the words of a husband with impeccable timing; "our desire is to be a close-knit family and to raise emotionally healthy children who are passionate in the pursuit of their God-given talents. You are the cornerstone of that."

Perspective.

It was what I needed last week and what I try to carry with me most days. I fully believe this is a job with an enduring impact. If I perform well, my legacy will positively impact future generations. If I fail to give it my best, I will at the very least be missing out on that insanely cool opportunity...and at the worst, severely damaging a precious human being or two.

So upon a moment's reflection...yes Erin, I am glad I quit the day job.

But I do occasionally miss those spreadsheets.

 
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