Last week was a huge milestone for me and my professional life. For the first time since I graduated from college (almost 12 years ago), I’m going to have a gap on my résumé.
I gave my two week notice!
I’m going to be staying home with Claire full-time!
It’s been a week since I’ve given my notice, and I have one week of work left. It’s taken a while for me to process this information and come to terms with my fast-approaching new reality. Needless to say, I’m extremely nervous and excited about this new role.
I had my reasons for working from home, and I actually really enjoyed it…when it worked for me and our situation.
The reason I was working from home was so that we didn’t have to put Claire in daycare. I wanted to be the primary caregiver.
The reason I was working from home was so that I could raise a child and have adult interaction throughout the day and stay “busy.” That was easy when Claire was a newborn. (I started with this company while pregnant with Claire, took a 6-week pseudo-break after giving birth to her and then started right in again. I’ve been there for almost 2.5 years.) And, it was somewhat challenging when Claire was a baby, but I made adjustments. I thrive on deadlines, challenges and multiple obligations, and I always have. I’m organized, and I like being busy.
The reason I was working from home was so that I could feel productive and like I was contributing to our financial goals. I made really good money at my job, for what it was, and extra money is very rarely a bad thing.
So, why the change?
Claire had always handled my working from home with ease. She was an easy newborn and an easy baby, and she really likes playing by herself and keeping herself occupied. We set up a play area in my office so that I could easily keep an eye on her while doing my job, and it worked great.
I was able to fit all of my allotted work into Claire’s naptimes or her quiet playtimes, and it worked great.
I was able to juggle all the responsibilities of my new role as a mother and my already-established skills as an independent contractor, and it worked great.
I was really good at my job, and it gave me a feeling of satisfaction, and it worked great.
Again…why the change?
Well, things started not working so great. Because I am the way I am, I was determined to make things work. I tightened my schedule and honed my organization and buckled down. I got up early, stayed up late, and worked like a crazed madwoman to make it all look seamless to the outside world.
Failure was not an option. Period. We had a plan, and I always stick to the plan.
Things were working, and I convinced myself that as long as they were working adequately, they didn’t need to be great. Unfortunately, it’s hard to convince even a casual perfectionist that it’s okay when things aren’t perfect.
The summer proved to be the breaking point, and I was overwhelmed with a workload that was unacceptable to me. Although I was an independent contractor and could turn away work if it was too much, the thought of putting others in a bind was not an option. I took on more than I could handle and handled it anyway. I started working weekends and got things done. I was nearly at my wits end, but they don’t call it work for nuthin’, right? Right?
Plus, as an independent contractor, the money is awesome when the workload is incredible. Again, extra money is very rarely a bad thing. It made the sacrifices seem worthwhile.
I knew things would slow down to a more manageable rate when summer ended, and they did. So, I made some adjustments, and I hoped that things would fall into place again.
But, then something unexpected happened. All of a sudden, Claire became a real person. She started growing and changing and although she was really good at solitary play, her naptimes started to shift, and she became even more verbal. Hearing her say, literally, “Momma, stop typing. Please don’t work on files. Stop typing, right now, Momma!” was starting to break my heart.
I started to question whether I could do this anymore. I didn’t think I could handle this. It was getting to be too much. I had to find a way to make this work!
It was then that my hubby, always the calm voice of reason, reminded me that I don’t need to do this job. I was doing it because it was fun and challenging and brought in some extra money, but it wasn’t required to put groceries on the table or pay the bills. Maybe it’s served its purposes?
“I don’t need to do this?” I remember gasping at the concept. “Oh, right…I’m doing this because I want to…” The light bulb went off in my head. “And, so if I no longer want to…what am I doing?”
It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I started plotting my escape.
As shocking as this is, once I put my mind to something, it’s almost as good as done. Oh, and I have very little patience when it comes to things I’ve set my mind to…those are two dangerous combinations. In fact, it’s best to just get out of my way at that point.
To the people on the outside of my head, my decision seemed to come out of nowhere. I thought you liked your job? (I do.) Don’t you need deadlines to function? (I hope not.) Haven’t you always worked? (Yes.) Why this sudden change? (Well, it’s not sudden…it just appears that way.)
I doubt I’ll look back on March 12, 2008 and say, “You know, I wish I could have done more files…” And, it would break my heart to not quit, and look back years from now and wonder where the time went that I didn’t spend with Claire. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
So, I’m quitting one full-time job to focus on my “real” full-time job. I only have a couple years left of just “me and Claire time” and then she’s in school. Maybe by then I will have figured out what I want to be when I grow up.
Or maybe not.
Either way, I am so thankful that we are in a position where I can try this new adventure. I think Claire and I have earned this time together, and I think my husband deserves to come home to a less stressful home. (And, really…the man needs a break from doing all the grocery shopping!)
Everyone will benefit, and that’s worth more than any of my paychecks.
I’ve never dealt with a gap on my résumé before, but I’m up to the challenge. I can’t wait to see what it holds!