|a snapshot of my commute, taken last week|
In July of 2007 I resigned from one of the best jobs I'd ever had. It was the first post-college job I'd held where I was treated respectfully, as a person with value and potential, and as I had only been with the company for a little over a year I was only just beginning to recover from the many years of often abusive jobs which I had held previously.
It was more than difficult to leave. I even enjoyed my work there, and liked my team on top of everything else. But we were expecting Lena to arrive in October, and it had become abundantly clear to us that for reasons both financial and personal I needed to stay at home for a while.
"A while" turned into 6 1/2 years, with another baby girl arriving along the way, too. I always had some sort of freelance work happening during those years - work I could do at home while babies napped or watched Sesame Street, work that took the edge off the whole single-income-family bit. For the most part, staying home was fun, and even a little luxurious. Wearing pajamas all day is AWESOME, as is being able to run errands during the day or having the occasional lunch date with friends. Money was always tight, but the freelance work helped out a lot, and the things I was able to do for my family in exchange were absolutely worth it.
But over the last few years the freelance work began to dry up, and with Lena in school and Evie in preschool I had more time on my hands during the day than was helpful, I think. So I began looking for some more work, maybe even something part-time where I could guarantee daytime shifts. When a friend said he needed a little help with copywriting at his company last fall, it sounded like the perfect way to pick up some extra cash and even make my move into the writing world official. I imagined a temporary part-time stint lasting a few months at most. But the company was so big that the wheels turned very slowly, and by the time I interviewed in December the job had gone from "just a little help" to "full-time, in-office, experience required." I balked at "full-time," but told myself they would be interviewing so many people with so much more experience than me that I wouldn't even need to worry about it....except....they actually offered me the job.
So, yeah, maybe I panicked. But the offer seemed like such a gift of Providence that I nervously accepted the position. We scrambled to find some after school help with the girls, finally settling on a nanny since it was the middle of the school year and all the after school programs were full. (And by "full" I mean actual laughter on the other end of the line when I called to ask about wait-lists.) I then spent most of my holidays worrying about what I was doing to our family by taking on a full-time job. Would the girls be sad? Would they feel warehoused? Would they even remember who I was? How on earth would I get groceries, pay bills, keep the house clean? What would Matt Lauer talk about when I wasn't watching??
Well, I began the job at the beginning of January, and after two months I think it's safe to say that everyone is surviving. We haven't run out of food or toilet paper, yet, and honestly the girls don't seem to have noticed my absence very much at all. In fact, if I get home too early they complain that they didn't have enough time to play with Miss Maggie, our nanny. Well, I missed you, too, kids! True, I am now four or five months behind on photo editing, and I'm not getting in nearly enough writing or drawing time for my taste. I don't even know how to imagine working in time to exercise or read more, anymore. I miss being home. A. LOT. On the other hand, so far it is absolutely true what all my other working-mom friends told me: being at the office is SO much easier than being home with the kids. As of yet nobody at the office has demanded In-n-Out for every meal for weeks on end, has cried because we ran out of pink yogurt, has had a meltdown because THERE ARE NO NEW EPISODES OF UMI-ZOOMI, or has interrupted my afternoon coffee by screaming from their seat on the toilet the siren call of all toddlers: "IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" So, yeah. It's a good job, it's close to home, it's in a creative space, the people there are nice, I'm learning so much, and having a little bit of financial breathing room is such a huge relief that I can't even begin to quantify it. And, as an added bonus, I don't have to wipe anybody's poop for a guaranteed ten hours out of every workday. You will find no complaints here.
I don't know what the future holds for my career. I still feel like I'm settling into the job, the routine, the balancing act of work and kids and house and husband and me. I still feel like I have writing to offer, drawings to offer, and children with crazy potential to take over the world - and I plan to be present for that. But right now, working is good. Getting dressed and out of the house every day is good. Less stress over our budget is good. And you know what else? Telling my girls that Mommy works as a writer at a fun company, showing them that Mommy gets up and dressed and has someplace to be in the morning - right now that's pretty good, too.
In the weeks leading up to this job, many people told me that it would be much better for my family if I were to stay home. I understand that sentiment, I really do. But I'm a firm believer that you do what you believe is best for your family, whatever that is, and let other people worry about themselves. I don't know if I'll be working outside of our home for the next thirty years, or the next thirty days. And I feel good about not knowing. I feel like this job is a gift that I didn't ask for, and I'm going to enjoy it for as long as it lasts, and as long as my family continues to benefit from it. I miss my stay-at-home life. But this life is pretty good, too. Pretty darn good.