A few weeks ago, after I had given my notice at work, I stumbled upon an article/blog post/what have you written by a stay-at-home mom who was frustrated by friends/family/strangers saying she was lucky to be able to stay at home with her kids. My first thought, which is a first thought quite often these days, was people need to stop being so sensitive. The author explained how she and her husband had made sacrifices in order for her to stay at home. These sacrifices were mainly material items: cable television, daily coffee from Starbucks, vacations, etc. Look, we all make sacrifices when we become parents. I can't think of any parent who leads the same life he or she did prior to having children.
It was a bit of an afterthought but her career was mentioned. And that was where I could agree. Although, I wouldn't use the word sacrifice. Unfortunately, there are still many employers who will turn up their noses to those who have been out of the workforce because they chose to stay at home with their kids. Yes, so the whole returning to work and competing for positions/promotions is frustrating. I agree. I was out of work for about 18 months before and after the girls were born. I've lived it. But your babies are your babies and will only be babies for a minuscule moment in the grand scheme of life.
In giving my notice, the one aspect that I struggled with at first was the loss of my career. I've basically told everyone that I'm retiring and that's what I plan to do. I don't have plans to return to the workforce as a CPA in the position that I am in now.* Internally, there was a brief struggle to let that go because I've worked so incredibly hard over the past 20+ years to get here. After I resigned, I spent a week thinking this will either be the best thing I've done or the biggest mistake of my life. But then I realized that it could never be a mistake because I'm devoting time to my children and my family. How could that ever be a mistake?
Am I lucky? I think I am. I'm lucky to have a supportive husband and parents and family. Interestingly enough, when family/friends/co-workers heard the news, no one exclaimed, "Wow, you're so lucky!" Read through all the supportive comments from my post last week. There's only been one "you're lucky" and that was from my friend at work who is in a similar situation and the luck referred to my escaping the madness of the office. (And for that, I am extremely lucky.)
So what do the girls think of this change in life? They are a bit in disbelief. Maybe because we've talked about it happening for so long. Hopefully someday Mommy will be home all the time. Big dreams to share with little ones. Anna thought I was only going to be home for the summer. I made the mistake of saying that there was going to be a new sheriff in town and they balked at the thought of new rules and routines. But Grammy lets us do whatever we want. And she brings us salads with sunflower seeds!
In addition to the stress of being a working mom with an extended commute, we also have Anna's spina bifida and hydrocephalus to contend with. She does well at school right now. She is strong when it comes to ELA (English Language Arts) and does okay in math. There are certain areas that are difficult for her because of how she learns. Organization in general is an issue for kids with hydrocephalus For example, giving her a project of placing a bunch of steps in order of completion is a tough task for her. Her teacher showed us a project that listed out 6 or so steps on how to make ice cream and the kids' assignment was to order the steps. Anna struggled with this even though on the surface, it appeared to be an easy task. School only has the potential to become more difficult for her. It will be best for all if I'm here to assist and not trying to figure out the situation at 7:00 at night. (I don't know if I've ever shared this link or not but it's a teacher's guide to hydrocephalus. We found it to be extremely helpful in discussing Anna's needs with the school.)
I'll have to revisit my thoughts in a year to see if any have changed!
* The three roles I held outside of public accounting all involved setting up a new process/function. For the first two, the tax compliance process which had previously been outsourced was brought back in-house. For this last one, a very large entity had converted to a flow-through and it took years before we had a strong process implemented. That is where I thrive. Daily routines drain me and now I know that staying in the same role for years and years is just not for me and that's okay.