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A Difficult Choice

Grinning Baby

My Daily Affirmation

I can’t decide what to have for breakfast.

This may sound like a minor issue, but it feels like a bit of a crisis. This morning I’ve been meandering around the kitchen, washing a few dishes, getting things out and then putting them away. I finally decided I could make some coffee, and then, with that decision made, started wandering aimlessly again.

I’m a little lost.

I’ve made the very tough decision to leave a fulfilling job as a writer and online content manager to stay home with my son (for now). And while I’m incredibly thankful to be able to do this — and wouldn’t give this up for anything right now — this major life change has my head spinning.

I had my first summer job at 13, when I helped out at the preschool where my mom worked. After that, I worked at the neighborhood pool’s concession stand, then got a job at the Gap (a very ’90s thing to do), then took some shifts as a hostess at a restaurant after school. I even worked during the school day, volunteering in the main office (okay, this was mainly to get out of tardiness violations), visiting grade schools with the D.A.R.E. program and changing the world (or so I thought) as a member of student council. During college, I worked at the rec center, waited tables and led campus tours, and came home periodically to pick up waitressing shifts in my hometown.

Whether a part-time gig or a demanding grind, work has always been a big part of my life. It’s been a mental challenge, a creative outlet and a daily social encounter — not to mention a big part of my identity. Going to work was often stressful and exhausting (especially while I was pregnant and sporting a belly the size of a small cruise ship), but it provided me with a sense of camaraderie and companionship I’ve really missed.

After my son arrived, choosing between him and spending nearly two hours in the car was pretty simple. But there are still drawbacks to my choice. Some days I can actually feel knowledge leaving my head, and I worry that I might be a better mom if I went to work and came home to Hudson at night. But at some point every day, I know I’ve made the right choice.

Yesterday, that moment came when I used a makeshift luggage scale to weigh my son. In his first month, his weight gain was exceptional. But it was only half of what I hoped it would be at his two-month appointment. Since I’m breastfeeding, I was devastated at this news, and felt like I was failing at my newest — and most important — job.

So I was a little nervous to find out where he stands at three months old. It’s been 34 days since his last weigh-in, so I was hoping for an increase of around 34 ounces. After rigging up the scale, I thought I was having another case of “the dumbs” and that my math couldn’t possibly be right. But after checking it again, I was sure: my son has gained a whopping 58 ounces since his last appointment.

What an amazing feeling of accomplishment. With nothing but my own body, I’ve been able to provide my son with everything he needs and more. Looking at him only confirms this feeling. He is apple-cheeked and chubby, and every time I look at him — every time — he breaks into a slow grin that lights up his entire face. His impossibly blue eyes grow bright, and he often sings out, “nnnnnggoooo” or lets out a little squeal.

Today, I have to start all over again. The batteries in the baby swing are marching toward their death and the song it plays has taken on a maddening warble that just may make me lose my mind. I’ve yet to get dressed and a dust bunny tumbles across the floor, mocking my lamentable housekeeping abilities. I haven’t even been able to decide whether to fix some oatmeal or get out of my pajamas.

And then the coffeemaker sings its five beeps, telling me it has a steaming cup of black coffee ready for me. That’s a start.

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