In my element

15 Mar

The weather this week has been unseasonably warm and just delicious. With my son in preschool during the mornings mid-week, I took the opportunity to buckle my baby girl in her stroller armed with a sippy of water and a snack-trap full of Cheerios so that we could enjoy the sunshine and have some one-on-one time at the playground.

It is so quiet on our walks, other than the occasional car or truck driving by. She gets to enjoy the soft breeze and points out the birds and squirrels roaming about, and I enthusiastically label each animal she notices. Daffodils and hyacinths have sprung up from the ground in the neighborhoods we walk through on our way to the park, and their fragrances danced in the wind and tickled our noses.

Whenever I have chances like this to take walks with the kids, I love the time it gives me to just think. Uninterrupted. (Other than the occasional announcement that, “Mommy, there’s a garbage truck!” from my oldest.) Lately I seem to think a lot about how content I am with just being a stay-at-home-mom.

But I didn’t always feel this way.

After my son was born in September of 2008, I thought I had the perfect situation. My employer agreed to have me come back part-time after maternity leave, and in my mind it was ideal: the best of both worlds! I’d have a four-day weekend and then three days of work. It couldn’t get any better.

Three months later I was laid off, along with three others in my office, because the economy was so upside down that our business was struggling. I was sad, but also happy. It was my chance to stay home for awhile with my baby, while at the same time collecting unemployment and looking for my next full-time job.

Months and months went by, and interviews were few and far between despite the many applications I submitted. I never really saw any dream-job opportunities, and the interviews I went on just never were a perfect fit. We were lucky enough to be in a situation where my unemployment benefits allowed us to make ends meet without putting a huge dent in our emergency savings. But I still remember feeling as if I had lost a piece of my identity. My career had been such a huge part of my life for so long before we had our baby, and it was hard for me to equate changing diapers and wiping his runny nose with conference calls, talent interviews and client meetings. They were on two totally different playing fields. It was like living life as a homemaker meant I was on the farm team and being a career woman was playing professional ball. And boy did I miss the pros sometimes.

We became pregnant again in the Spring with our baby girl and were excited about adding to our family. But I began to feel as though I was spending and not contributing at all to our household finances. Which, I was. I mean, I do ninety-five percent of all the buying for the family. So I guess it was a natural thing to feel. I remember my husband’s first reaction when I told him he needed to stop eating all his lunches out at restaurants because it was hurting our budget. It was something to the effect of, “Honey, I make the money, I should be able to spend it sometimes.” He had a point. It still hurt.

So when a contract job offer came my way, I pursued it and did everything I could to secure it even though I was already five months pregnant at that point and knew I needed to have time off after the baby came in order to adjust to caring for two little ones. I had two phone interviews before an in-person interview. The waiting time was stressful. The gal who interviewed me face-to-face was young, and I did my best to suck in my bulging belly under the suit I managed to squeeze into. I didn’t think she noticed, or cared really. The job was a ten-minute commute from our house and I was able to get both kids spots back at the daycare center where our son went back when I was working my last position. I was crossing my fingers and toes that it worked out.

Finally I got the call. The job was mine, I just had to tell the boss on my first day that I was pregnant and due in three months. Fine with me, I could at least make some money before the baby came. And that is what I did.

It was fun being back in an office environment and the work was challenging and creative. I was able to exceed some high goals management had set for our team, so when the time came for me to go out on maternity leave, my boss said the door would still be open for me. I thanked her for the opportunity and said goodbye to everyone I had the pleasure of working with, promising to keep in touch and send pictures of the baby.

I did end up going back, but only for a few months. I kept feeling like I was missing out on things at home. I wanted to see my baby girl sit up on her own. Wanted to see the very first time she crawled. Wanted to see her first baby signs and hear her first words. I was so afraid that a daycare worker would witness these things before me, and having had the opportunity to be there when our son did all his firsts, I wanted to be able to do the same with our daughter.

I gave my notice to my boss and when she asked me for three week’s notice instead of the two I tried to give, I felt bad and said okay.

I have never looked back.

I never thought I would feel so incredibly comfortable in my role here at home, but I am. My days are long, and my 3 and 1/2-yr old is no longer napping most days, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m not saying that I don’t miss the other world sometimes, the corporate world. I do. But I don’t see myself going back to an office job until my kids are in school. I’d feel like I was missing out on too much. Besides, I’m finding ways to feel as though I’m contributing to the family such as using coupons at the grocery store and buying and selling the kids’ clothes at consignment sales. And packing my husband’s lunch. :)


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