I went back to work when my youngest was just a year old. That was 4 years ago, and two weeks ago, I decided that enough was enough. So, I gave my notice, leaving a job that I feel is my lifeline to the outside world.
I have always told myself that I worked because I am not stay-at-home mom material. I work because I enjoy my job, enjoy the people I work with, enjoy talking about things other than whatever moms-who-pick-their-kids-up-at-school-every-afternoon talk about. But, in the last two years, I have been liking my job less and less. Last year, I tried to change my job, interviewing for and getting turned down for 6 different opportunities. It was hard work interviewing and putting myself out there, especially when trying to manage a full time job and full time motherhood. I got tired. This year, when spring rolled around and I could see my future in this current job, I felt a change was necessary. The change I decided on was pretty drastic.
For the first two days after I gave my notice, I felt really guilty, like I was leaving my team at work in the lurch. Then, I got over myself and realized that they would survive, someone else would take over the work, the world would not end. Then I was happy. That lasted about a day and a half, and now I am scared.
What was I thinking? I gave up a job that, in the scheme of things, was not so bad. Other people would love to be in my position. I worked in a nice building, I got to ride my bike to work, I had enough flexibility to get my mom-life done, the people I worked with were nice, smart, and interesting. In addition, the thought of spending the summer with my kids is not pleasant. My 6.5 year old son is currently deriving pleasure from constantly repeating the same things over and over again. My 5 year old is in a stage where she needs to have me involved in everything she does. Not exactly the relaxed ideal of parenthood I had imagined.
My plan right now is to take the summer off and return in the fall, into a new position (that will miraculously open up, just for me!). But what if I never go back? What then? This is completely uncharted territory. I am scared. Have I given up my identity? I know in my mind that my work is not my identity, but I grew up in a family that valued a strong work ethic, demonstrated by going to an office everyday. Non traditional careers were not part of my family's life, how is this really going to work for me? I don't even want to think about the financial part of the equation, not having my own paycheck is a whole other post.
Taking the summer (or longer) off means a lot of new things for me, my husband, and my kids. My kids will be able to spend more time at home, chill out, and have more time for spontaneous play. My husband will not have to worry about pickups and drop offs, allowing him to get more traction in his career.
For me, the future is unknown. Maybe I will develop one of my hobbies. Maybe I will volunteer, I might even sign on to be the room mom for my 5 year old's kindergarten class. Maybe I will go back to school. Maybe I will change my career. Maybe I will make new friends. Maybe I will get a life. Maybe.