Monday, July 19, 2010

Kind of a Big Deal

I have some big news. Are you ready for it?

Hope you're sitting down, it's pretty exciting.

I've quit my job, effective September 1. For the first time in 11 years, I will not be employed outside the home.

That's right - this isn't for another job. I'm going to be staying home with Charlie for a while. I am *so* excited. I have wanted to do this since before my maternity leave even ended last year. I wasn't sure if it was just the major hormones playing with my mind at the time, but I figure a year is a long enough time to figure it out for sure. I know this is what I want.

This decision isn't based completely on the demands of my job and simply wanting to be at home. Brad is gone a lot on travel for his job and it's been extremely challenging flying solo as a parent during the week since Charlie was 5 weeks old.

Trying to juggle it all in the past year has left me in a major burned out funk. I could tell I needed a major change when I would walk through entire weeks feeling completely apathetic about everything I was working on at my job. I just didn't care - very uncharacteristic for me. But when your day consists of baby care, work, baby care, prep for the next day, burn out is probably inevitable.

I've also spent every day at work since I cam back from maternity leave counting the minutes until I can leave to pick up Charlie. No matter how much time I get with him, I want more. I hated that all I got was a measly hour or so in the morning, with me reluctantly taking him to daycare at the last minute and then a couple of hours at night, most of which was the bed time routine. I felt disappointed when he went to bed, wishing I got more time with him. Kind of sad hearing what I missed when I picked him up at daycare. I just haven't been getting to enjoy him like I want to.

It's going to be really nice to slow it down a bit, to remove the whole 'show up for work showered, professional and ready to think for 8+ hours' thing from the equation Eliminating the panic that accompanies Charlie being sick when I have 8 conference calls that day. Instead, I'll just be unshowered. We'll just be sick and stay home. I can focus on one thing - my favorite thing in the whole world.

I admit, though, coworkers are nice in that you can tell them to go away and give you a break and they do. Toddlers, not so much. Even with a very convincing power point presentation. So I know it's going to be work - just in a different flavor. I'm not delusional that this is going to be a vacation. For one thing, vacations were paid!

In a perfect world, I probably would have liked to go part time for a while and try that out to see if that would give me the balance I'm looking for. Unfortunately, me going part time would not have been a good fit for my employer - they really need someone full time in my position. I've never assumed I was irreplaceable, so I agree, it's no longer a good fit.

There are, of course, some things I will miss about working, and about this job in particular. I think working can be a great source of identity and self esteem - especially for the first born people pleasers among us, like myself. It feels good to be good at something. There's a camaraderie that goes along with working on a team that's fun. Socializing and joking around the office, dropping by happy hour - things like that. Basically being a non-mom person for a portion of the day.

This job in particular was great because I worked with wonderful people - and I'm not just saying that. Really nice, high quality, ethical, smart people. You don't find that every day - and I know that from experience too. The management there was as flexible as they could possibly be to me and empathetic about my situation of trying to take care of Charlie on my own during the week. I'm probably an idiot for giving up such a job, but I have high hopes I will know how to spot another such job in the future.

I don't really consider this a permanent departure from the workforce. It's more of a professional hiatus. However, when I come back again in my second career life, I think I want to do something different. I'm not sure what that something different will be yet, but I'm going to take time to give that some serious thought. Maybe something using the other side of my brain. It needs some exercise after all these years of analytical thinking. Who knows, though - I may go searching and find out I was in just the right job for me.

Brad and I have been talking about this for quite some time, but just decided and finalized this a few weeks ago. I told my manager last Thursday and he announced it today. Since it's official, I thought I'd make it super-official and put it here. Because it only really happens if it happens on the internet, right?

I've also been spreading the news as I have seen people, but it's going to be hard to tell everyone before they hear it from someone else. So that's why I'm posting it here. If I didn't get to tell you personally, I'm sorry.

As I've told the people I've seen, I've gotten some mixed reactions to the news. And that's ok. I figured that would be the case. I knew that some people would think I was making a mistake. I probably have some surprised looks, talking toos and speculation still ahead of me. It's not really phasing me, though, probably because I'm so excited and I already know this is the next step for me.

One thing is for certain - it's going to be interesting to go from working mom to stay at home mom. I promise to be as brutally honest about it as I can. I'm quite certain it is going to have lots of ups and downs.

Also, a request - if you stay at home or know someone who stays at home, I'd love some ideas and tips on how keep busy and social - mom's groups, finding a mother's day out, activities to try, etc. Charlie's pretty active and I'll take all the advice I can get!


Kristen said...

whose business is it if you're making a mistake? you have to do what's best for your family right now. and if that's not working, so be it. we're not saving the world, we're telling people what they can and can't'll have more fun at home with charlie, even on those un-showered, pj days :) but we'll miss you!

Meredith said...

Good for you KK! You seemed so happy when I saw you; have no doubt this move has something to do with it. Love you!

Soña said...

Congratulations Kara! Sounds like a well-thought out and much desired change. I don't think there's a Mom in the world that doesn't wonder what she's missing when she's away, or if there is I haven't met her yet, but I know I feel very similarly and like you I also like my job. Anyway, I don't want to post-jack. Congratulations though, this sounds like an awesome change for your familiy.

Katie said...

Sounds like a perfect decision for your family! So exciting! Congrats.

To keep busy ... we go to story time at the library once per week. I joined a moms group on for kids who were in the same age range. It seems like moms groups are really for the moms until about age three ... but adult conversation (even if it is about 'what snacks are you feeding your kid now?') is soooo nice. Sabrina loved music at that age -- so we signed up for a music class that met once per week. We also did a mommy-and-me swim class right around 18 months.