In my last post, I mentioned that one of the nice surprises about my transition to Chief Mom Officer has been the great sense of peace that has settled over me.
Before quitting my job, I spent a few years torturing myself (and my family – mostly my long-suffering husband) about whether I should bite the bullet and take the huge leap from a well-remunerated career to being a stay-at-home mom. Everything I’d been taught and everything I thought I knew about myself screamed “You’re crazy. You’ll hate it. Don’t do it!” Here I was: highly educated, ambitious, eager to move up the proverbial ladder, and yet I was yearning to spend more time with Chloe and Sophie and to more seriously pursue creative endeavors that were percolating for years.
But there came a point when it felt like I was incessantly talking and complaining about my predicament. It was tiresome and it was definitely not peaceful. On the one hand, I was grappling with a very personal dilemma; on the other, I recognized that plenty of other women have struggled with similar issues.
We finally started to take a serious look at our finances. We knew that relinquishing my salary was going to be difficult. But I also knew that my unhappiness was emanating from my pores and infecting those I loved like the plague. I realized that I’d rather have to pay more attention to our expenses than lose this once in a lifetime opportunity. I also recognized that our ability to even seriously broach this subject put us into a rarefied category of families – I don’t take our relative good fortune for granted.
So we talked more about it, started to get beyond the fear of being a one-earner family and delayed the decision over and over again. But the indecisiveness wasn’t tenable. Something had to give, and once I announced to my husband a few months ago that I planned to quit, I started to experience the seeds of peace, which first manifested themselves as a giant sigh of relief.
The seeds were small at first. I still had a few months of work left, and as I wrapped things up there, I continued to experience some sleepless nights and residual stress – wondering whether the decision I made was the right one.
In the time since I’ve closed the door on the paycheck (at least for now), those grains have turned into hardy saplings. It feels like I’ve literally emptied my mind of many of the negative thoughts that clogged it for so long. I’m sleeping well again. I’m greatly enjoying my family. I’m basking in the luxury of time. I’m learning to cook. We’re traveling. I’m writing more. And I’m finally taking care of myself on a daily basis. It turns out exercising doesn’t suck as much as I thought it would.
I have no illusions that every single day will be peaceful. Life happens to be interesting in that way. The financial hit we’re taking will catch up to us sooner rather than later, and dealing with that will be stressful, I’m sure. But I feel like we have received a huge gift and I intend to make the most out of it – at least for the foreseeable future. Because at the end of the day, life is just too damn short not to take the plunge.