Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's All Coming To A Head

I've been on a leave from work for almost nine weeks now - since March 1. It doesn't seem like it's been nine weeks, but May 17, I am scheduled to report back to work.

This has been my big change to experience, in a safe way, how I would do staying at home with the wee ones - and how they'd do with me at home. I had tried this route before three years ago and failed miserably.

A lot of that failure had to do with the fact that I had gone from 500mph to zero, with a toddler and infant (who was very mobile) who couldn't be left alone long enough for me to go to the bathroom. We had just moved, and I didn't know anyone nor did I have any activities for myself or the wee ones.

This time around, I've been working part time three days a week - and two of those from home. I am involved in the wee ones' schools, in my church, in neighborhood organizations and more. I have a routine for myself and for the wee ones. Theoretically, staying at home should be easier.

My grand images of having tons of time to tackle my miles long to do list? Shattered.

That doesn't mean that I've gotten nothing done, however. I've been a regular at the gym. I've managed the preschool fundraiser that will be complete this coming Wednesday. I've started the process of remodeling our master bathroom. I've cooked a lot more (which I enjoy). Oddly, I'm home less than what I was when I was working, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Staying home means giving up a huge portion of my family's income, as well as the good insurance from my job (he's a teacher - even working part time, I out earn him). I won't be able to get a position like what I have again, especially in this economy. I have a career that I'd essentially be throwing away, and for the most part, it's been on that I've really enjoyed.

But then I read a book by a working mom who talks about the balance she has in her life and keeping sane. She looks at her life with a great deal of humor, and it works for her. Some of the quotes really stuck with me, however.

Ravage of Time: The damage you inflict on those around you when you find yourself with too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. It's no accident that I rarely yell at my kids or snap at my husband unless I am late or overwhelmed by a to-do list that seems to have no end.

And it hit me. This is what I do. When I'm less stressed by deadlines and things I can't control, I'm more in control and calm. With my wee ones - especially Mister Man - being in control and calm is critical to having a productive day. And working - even part time (or maybe because it's part time?) - is stressful. I'm never fully home or fully working. Because I have a foot in both worlds, both worlds expect my all. And I can't give 110% to two different places. I'm lucky when I'm giving 80% to one!

I'm pretty sure now that I will be remaining a stay-at-home mom. It seems to be what's working better for my family. We're all happier these past two months, and happiness is what's most important, not who has the biggest bank account.

The trick for me now is to make sure in my head that I'm really sure this is the direction I want to take, since I won't be able to change my mind. And then I need to figure out how to tell my work that I won't be coming back. Do I tell them now? Do I offer to come in for one last day? What about all my work from home equipment? And at what point do I lose my health insurance and need to ensure I'm covered by my husband?

But most of all? I feel like a weight has been lifted. The confirmation that I'm seeking started coming through stronger and stronger the more of Kristin van Ogtrop's Just Let Me Lie Down I read. While being a 55 hour a week working mom with three boys is the path that she chose and the option that (no pun intended) works best for her, I shied away mentally from many of her anecdotes. That life was so unappealing to me now.

So let's see how I'm doing in another six months!

This post was inspired by the book Kristin van Ogtrop's "Just Let Me Lie Down" which I received from the SV Moms Group Book Club. There was no compensation nor review involved.


Melisa Wells April 29, 2010 at 10:03 PM  

Wow, good for you for (almost?) making a decision. I know how you've struggled with this very personal and difficult dilemma!

Brandie April 29, 2010 at 10:04 PM  

I can't answer your question - but I wish you luck with this chapter of life! =)

Alexis AKA MOM April 29, 2010 at 11:57 PM  

I just finished that book, great one that made you think! I was wondering if you would end up staying home. Good for you my dear, I agree I've always made more then Rick and took a slight decrease to work from home but it did a world of difference in my life and stress!

Tara R. April 30, 2010 at 3:28 AM  

The decision for me to revert back to a stay-home mom was made for me, but it has worked out well for our family.

Good luck with your decision, but it sounds like you've already made it.

Karen April 30, 2010 at 7:44 AM  

I'm so glad that you had this reprieve from work to try to figure things out. You'll make the right decision because you know your family like nobody else does. I don't think either situation would be wrong though.

And I have to agree 100% that being a SAHM is anything BUT stay-at-home.

Regina April 30, 2010 at 8:26 AM  

Glad that your time has helped to point you in the right direction!

And thanks for sharing that book - I've added it to the read I ponder the future of how I should spend my time.

Kori April 30, 2010 at 11:42 AM  

I think just the fact that you are easier in your mind about the decision means it is the right one. And if you have found a way to be happy and can afford it, go for it.

septembermom April 30, 2010 at 1:26 PM  

Michelle, you seem to be getting closer and closer to feeling like you're in "the right spot" for you. I know that you will make a thoughtful, well considered decision. Whatever you do will work out fine. You're a super mama!!!!

Pat May 1, 2010 at 10:52 AM  

It's great that you were able to do the "trial" SAHM in order to figure out whether or not to go back to work. You were able to see your stress level go down. I think we all tend to make to-do lists sometimes that are not doable in the time frame we expect, happens. That's when the motto, "good enough" comes in!

All the best to you, Michelle, as you make this big decision.

Mrs4444 May 8, 2010 at 10:04 AM  

I'm happy for you. Especially for Type A's like us, not being able to do both jobs 100% is STRESSFUL. The beauty is that you are not making a decision about the rest of your life--you can play it by ear and adjust as necessary. (Other professional opportunities will present themselves.) It will all work out. Just remember that "100 years from now" quote...

Hyacynth May 8, 2010 at 10:37 PM  

Such an incredibly hard decision, but Michelle, I really think your gut has lead you to the decision that's right for your family.
That quote -- about snapping only when rushed or overly stressed, well, it's speaking to me. Because it's true. It's just soo true.

Michelle May 11, 2010 at 10:33 PM  

Melisa - I've made the decision. I can't imagine going back now - especially as we're in the process of trying to start up a bunch of new therapies and support systems for Mister Man....

Brandie - Nope, no one can answer it, can they? bummer.

Alexis - The stress level I'm still waiting to go down, but not having Little Miss to chase around all afternoon will help in the fall. That and finally being done with PTO responsibilities!

Tara - It's amazing how things always work out in the end, isn't it? The moral of the story I need to remember!

Karen - Yeah, my husband said something tonight about me not working anymore and then very quickly corrected himself. I'm home much less often now, and not because I'm out joyriding.

Regina - So am I. It's an interesting book, although at times a bit too preachy for me, I'll admit.

Kori - Yep, the ease of mind is definitely the trick. I'm hoping to get one more week extension on my leave (I had to push back the start because of work conflicts) but haven't heard yet, but regardless I need to get in contact with them soon!

Kelly - You, as always, are far too kind. I don't think I'd ever use the word super to describe me :)

Pat - And I did use the motto of good enough for myself, didn't I? I'm learning that that is actually ok.

Mrs4444 - Yep, not doing them 100% is huge. That and being pulled too much in one direction and then the other. The 100 years is another critical one to keep in mind. Thanks.

Hyacynth - Isn't it though? I'm working on that one, and hopefully making some progresss :)

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom May 12, 2010 at 6:30 PM  

I've been wondering how things have been going! I can't believe your time is almost up. Things here are crazy with the start of school and the time I'm having to spend observing in the classroom - when I was staying at home w/o the grad school obligations I was loving it, now I find myself back in that stressed out frustrated place again. I desperately need to get a schedule laid out and stick to it, to protect our down time.

Michelle June 26, 2010 at 9:54 PM  

Steph - Time was up, I went back... and I quit. Now I'm home again, and a weight has just lifted. I hope your vacation has been able to rejuvenate you some!

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