Thursday, January 20, 2005

Hurry Up Please, It's Time

I gave my notice at work yesterday.

Almost 3 years after becoming a mother, I've decided to stay at home with the kids. It's actually something I've contemplated ever since I became pregnant with Sean. After my maternity leave with him, however, I couldn't imagine staying at home with a baby. My baby, in particular. Sean the infant was, how shall I put it, a rather unhappy camper. At the end of 4 months of tending to what seemed to be ceaseless crying (his and mine!), I welcomed the respite of work.

Once I returned to work, Allison arrived in short order (yes, I know, VERY short order), and her infant self was equally crabby, albeit at a different time of day. Sean's crankiness occurred during the day, and Allison's flat-out colic was on full display from 8:00 to 11:00 every single night. By the time my maternity leave was over, the colicky period had played its course and evenings were much more manageable. This time, I wasn't especially enthusiastic about resuming work.

So I started mapping out a plan. How would we manage financially if I stopped working? Although in my current position I manage the editing and production of a journal, before that I was a copyeditor. In addition to editing during my day job, I also did quite a bit of freelance editing. And that seemed to be the answer: I could stay home with the kids and freelance part time.

Jeff and I spent a lot of time sorting through the logistics, and we think we're going to be okay. Things will be a little tight, but I'm not too worried. (Famous last words.)

I've been paying a lot of attention to recent blog discussions on day care, and choices, and judgmentalism. I've always been a wee bit sensitive and defensive about my decision to work, especially because none of my friends continued working after having children. Yet in making the decision to quit my job, I'm not changing my opinion that there is nothing wrong with being a working mother. If you are loving, if your priorities still focus on your children, if you can obtain nurturing child care, then your children will be fine.

Jeff and I have been extremely lucky in terms of child care---my sister Kathie watches Sean and Allie. She provides home day care for a few other children, and has more experience with caring for children than I'll ever have. Knowing that she loves my children and that their days are spent in a warm, caring environment has helped assuage some of the inevitable working mother's guilt.

Our plan now is for my sister to watch the kids 2 days a week; on those days, I'll work (assuming I can regain some clients, that is!). For now, it's business as usual. I'll keep working until the first week of April.

I wonder how I'll like staying at home? I have a few specific concerns, which I'll write about in another post. Mostly, though, I'm excited about this upcoming change. Any words of wisdom from those in the trenches?