Leslie Lehr in Mommy Wars
When Isabella was just "the Beastie" my return-to-full-time-work plan involved three days working from home and two days in the office. My grandma or my great aunt would watch Isabella while I was at work. However, from pretty much the second I saw her, that plan pretty much flew out the window. There was no way I could leave her for upwards of nine hours a day. Not for a job that for all its nice perks (including a wonderful manager, free soda, and a company-sponsored happy hour on Fridays with a breakroom fridge stocked with beer for the weekly occasion) was just that. A job. I've never had a career. A position about which I felt passionate. Like many, I work to pay the bills. It's as simple as that.
And so I volunteered to end my maternity leave five weeks early because my fill-in turned out to have a few screws loose, and I did some part-time work, from home, before returning full-time in December of last year. In doing this favor for my manager, I hoped he would agree to let me work full-time from home, instead of only three days a week. And he did.
"Nobody ever explained how I was supposed to be in two places at one time, or at least with my brain in one place and my heart in another."
Reshma Memon Yaqub in Mommy Wars
It sounds like an ideal situation. In many ways it is. Unfortunately, though, the stress of trying to find a balance between my full-time job and motherhood has sent me careening toward the edge at a speed I'm wholly uncomfortable with. I didn't like the exhausted and disengaged person I was turning into as a result. Or the impatient, distracted, and unfocused mother I was morphing into. Or the disinterested and snappish wife I had become. It had gotten to the point that I didn't even recognize myself anymore. And a few weeks ago, a work situation occurred that finally sent me over. To paraphrase one of the essayists in Mommy Wars, I came to the realization that I can't win this tug of war unless I let go of one side of the rope. No one can do it all, all at once. That's not living; it's suffering.
I finally came to the conclusion that something had to give. It was time to let go of one end of the rope. And so, I'm making a change.
"When you stop to be where you are, then your life can really begin."
Iris Krasnow in Mommy Wars
As of September of this year, I'm stepping out of the 40-hour-a-week workforce. I will not be working full-time for my company any longer. I plan on either asking my manager to share my job with an immensely qualified friend, whereby we'd each work part-time, or walking away altogether in order to pursue freelance writing.
And the reasons are simple. I need to give Isabella the mother she deserves, instead of the often manic and always impatient one she gets when I'm on a deadline, or the frentic one she gets when my manager calls with an immediate need as I'm feeding her breakfast. I need to regain the "me" I've lost in these last few months of non-stop working coupled with (due to the hubs' work schedule) single parenting. I need to enjoy her childhood, instead of living in the next moment, instead of the current one, as I so often do.
I need to be the mother I want so desperately to be for the little girl I never thought I'd have.
"I didn't understand, though other mothers had tried to tell me, how much space motherlove takes up."
Anne Marie Feld in Mommy Wars
There are those in my life who are certain I've drank the purple Koolaid. And yes, there are times when the diet root beer in my fridge certainly tastes a lot like it because honestly, if you had asked me even as recently as nine months ago whether or not I'd work full-time until retirement, I would have said, "absolutely."
But here's the thing: I've realized that there is nothing in my life right now that is more important than my daughter and her quality of life. And as much as I try to convince myself otherwise, the effect my job has on me due to the amount of time and level of commitment it requires is affecting her life. And it has to end.
For me, it is impossible to "have it all," all at once. I need to be able to arrange my work around Isabella, instead of trying to fit in Isabella around my work. Am I scared to walk away from my job? Of course. Am I worried about being financially dependant, at least for a little while, upon my husband? Damn straight I am. This is never, EVER, a position I envisioned myself in.
But do I unequivocally know it is the right thing to do for my daughter, my family, and myself? Absolutely.