During the girls' tennis lesson the other night, I chatted away with a family friend. His daughter is friends with my girls and also in the same tennis class. Rich joined us after stopping off at home to change clothes and eat dinner. The conversation shifted to working and the difficulties associated with different roles and I suddenly felt so free. This week marks the one year anniversary of my waving good-bye to Corporate America. I've had a year for it to sink it that I have no other responsibilities outside of my family and, after working for more than 20 years, it still feels weird.
On many different levels, I was burnt out and needed a change. I'll never say that staying at home with your children is easy - it's not - but you cannot compare this to the job I held. My kids are ten years old now so I'm mostly a referee. (And a cook and a maid and a personal driver.) "She's copying me." "Stop wearing my clothes!" Oh yes, I think I hear those statements every day now. It's so very different when you don't have to balance work and family. As I mentioned many, many times when I was working, there wasn't a balance. It was more of a shifting of my attention to whoever needed me most at a given time. Sometimes it was work, sometimes it was my family. The problem is that I'm always a parent; I couldn't just shelve that for a few days to concentrate on work. Work was always there too. Sure, you can throw problems on the back burner, but that's just more for you to take care of later.
Admittedly, my situation at the end of my time working was the most flexible it had been during my 8 years there. But at the end of the day, I still had a boss to report to (he was the complete opposite of a micromanager, by the way) and his boss reported to the head of the company. There were still fire drills and politics and overtime. I was burnt out. Once the damage is done, it's hard to reverse without massive change.
My days are (mostly) quiet and free from stress. I like being alone for six hours a day while the girls are in school. It gives me time to recharge. Now that I know my personality type needs alone time to recharge, I don't feel guilty about it. The girls have dance (and now tennis) four nights a week so it's not like I'm a shut-in. There's plenty of adult socialization going on. This entire year, I've never once been bored. There's always a room that needs to be cleaned. Clothes to be laundered. A meal to be cooked. A book to be read.
Interestingly, I haven't been able to get myself to where I thought I'd be with running and exercise. That's something I'd like to focus on during Year 2. Emily and I both are still somewhat sick. If I do too much, I end up coughing up a lung.
I do give a lot of thought as to what I want to do. I'm the type of person who believes that I could and should be doing more. I push myself. People who know me well sometimes think I'm not happy with the status quo when really, I just think I should be doing more. It's not about happy/unhappy. Really, I don't know what I want to do in the future. At some point, especially when the girls are older, I'll want to be doing something more. I think about photography a lot. I feel so passionate about it, but I also think the market for family photography in this area is over-saturated and I'm not sure that's the path I want to head down.
We'll have to see what Year 2 holds. . .