The decision to leave work and be a stay at home mom was both the easiest decision I have ever made and the most difficult one. We considered every option, every possibility, money, the commute, daycare, insurance, everything. If I had been in this position ten years ago I wouldn't have wanted to stay home with my kids. Ten years ago I wanted to be a career woman, I wanted the job and the office and the travel. I guess getting all of that changed my perspective, and somehow having the job, the office, the travel made me just want family, kids, and to stay home and watch them grow. But even knowing before I ever got pregnant that I wanted to stay home, once the dream of kids became a reality I still had to make the decision, weigh the factors. Could I really stay home with my baby girl, or was it just a dream?
Shawn and I talked over everything, and the biggest negative was definitely the money. Shawn is in school and will graduate in a year, which will hopefully mean more money. Could we afford to have me stay home and not bring in any money for a year? The truth is, at some point I may need to go back to work part time, so the first thing I did was discuss that possibility with my boss. But, ultimately, what I really would want would be a flexible schedule so I can work when Shawn is home and not have to put Eliza in daycare at all. And even if a part time position was available, it would mean I would still have the commute, which was one of the biggest negatives about my job. And let's just be honest here, I didn't exactly love my job, and that's probably one of the biggest factors. If I loved my job I might be more inclined to go back to work for a year. I loved the people I worked with, and there were aspects of my job that were really great and fun, but ultimately it wasn't for me and it was getting harder and harder to stay motivated. I just couldn't see myself dropping off my precious baby in daycare and driving for an hour each way to go to a job I basically dreaded. But, I was also worried about how I would do NOT working. I've had a job since I was in highschool, is there some part of me that needs to work? It's only been two months, and the first two weeks before Eliza came I did get pretty stir crazy in the house, but I love being home with her. I look forward to a time when I can do a bit more like making dinner and cleaning, so far Eliza is pretty demanding of my time and attention. (It's taken me a week to write this blog post.) But I do definitely need some adult interaction, and have started to find my network of fellow stay at home moms to get together with.
I had a few people tell me to not even think about making the decision until Eliza arrived, to just wait until I was on maternity leave and then decide if I wanted to go back. So, I researched that possibility and discussed with my HR what it would mean if I didn't come back while I was on maternity leave, and basically, that's a really expensive option. Sure, you get paid and have insurance for those weeks, but if you decide not to go back, you get to pay back that insurance and most of the salary, so I knew I had to make a decision upfront. I thought about going back for a short period of time, but then it was the finding the daycare again and the commute and the leaving my baby, so I decided that was also not an option, even if it was temporary.
I agonized for weeks, months over the decision. Then once I had made up my mind I agonized over when to inform my boss. We were going through redeployment at work, and what I decided and when I announced my decision would effect other people. I didn't want to announce too soon and have them let me go before I was ready. And waiting to tell work made me keep reassessing my decision. So, I waited until about a month before I was supposed to go on "maternity leave" and then my boss came to me and asked what my plans were for maternity leave and even though I hadn't mentally prepared to have the discussion right then, I told him, I'm not coming back. And at that moment I was liberated. My boss was great, very encouraging about my decision being the right one and that he would not hesitate to hire me again. And my timing was perfect. The redeployment meant someone else was able to take over my accounts, and I had a month to close things out and transition everything over to them. And while I miss my coworkers, I haven't missed my job, not even for a second. Being a mom all day every day is so much harder than my job ever was. And at the same time so much more rewarding. I feel a fulfillment in being with Eliza that I never felt in my office job. I truly feel like this is what I was meant to do, even on the days when she cries and I can't put her down for more than a minute. I love this little girl more than I ever thought possible.
I am so blessed to be able to stay home with Eliza. I know plenty of moms who don't have that option. I also know plenty of moms who don't want that option. And for me, for right now, this is the perfect decision.
Picture found here.