The Plunge

My new coworkers. They rarely listen to me and they’re
always leaving a mess around the office.

Recently, I chose to leave a job that I loved, and begin one that I hope I’ll love even more–as a mom who doesn’t work full time outside the home (I haven’t found a better title).

Professionally, I was fulfilled, challenged and had accomplished an impressive amount of work in four years. Personally, though, I was a mess (not a hot mess, although I certainly wouldn’t mind being called hot now and again). I craved more time with my babies, and not just physical time, but the energy and brain capacity to actually be with them.

I was not ok with my 2.75 year old casually using phrases like “I’m too busy, I’m too tired,” and “I can’t, I have to work right now.” I wonder who she’s heard that from.

Being a professional mom is tough, it’s so tough. (Let’s face it, being any kind of a mom is tough.) Especially when you genuinely love your career, and feel you’re making a positive impact on society. But my time with my little ones was slipping away, and you just can’t get that back.

I have to admit that sometimes being a working mom can make you feel like Super Woman. There’s a strange thrill I get from click-clacking around the house in high heels with a baby on my hip. I’ve often wanted to tell difficult people in the workplace, “Putting up with your crap is no big deal. I’ve already been crapped on today, literally. And vomited on, and snotted on, and (insert other bodily fluid here) on.”

Getting out the door every morning is a tremendous chore. It usually goes a little like this.

1. Force myself out of bed after being up with the baby several times at night.
2. Stumble to kitchen, start pot of coffee.
3. Milk the cow (only some of you will get that)
4. Clean the milking machine, pack it for work.
4. Shower (unless E wakes up first, then put her in high chair in bathroom with bottle and shower).
5. Dress (unless A wakes up before I’m dressed and screams for me to come up and get her).
6. Go get E out of bed.
7. Dress E (unless she’s had a blowout, then I strip her bedding, give her quick bath, put bedding in washing machine).
8. Put E in high chair with Cheerios and bottle.
9. Get A up.
10. Dress A (or chase her around, begging her to get dressed, yelling at her).
11. Get A’s drink/breakfast (unless dog eats it first or she spills it on floor, then get her another).
12. Do something with my hair and makeup (usually nothing).
13. Brush A’s hair/teeth (or chase her around with brush).
14. Put on A’s shoes (where are your shoes!?) or, wait 10 minutes while she insists on putting them on herself, only to throw them across the room in frustration, because she can’t quite do it yet.
15. Look for E’s socks (that she had on and lost already).
16. Make sure purse is packed, juicer is packed (reference for my friend Dianne).
17. Grab E’s milk from freezer.
18. Give A her vitamins.
19. Go grab the (insert random item from A’s room here).
20. Wrestle the girls into their coats.
21. Load both girls in car (unless E’s had a blowout, or A needs to go potty, again).
22. Lock the door.
23. Pull out of driveway (unless I forgot something, then run back in).
24. Drive seven miles to sitter, drop off girls, then drive another 38 miles to work.

Then, after fulfilling my professional duties, I’d slide back into the driver’s seat, and hoof it back home, usually winding up oozing through the door at 6:15 or so. Then, I’d throw something together for dinner, give the girls a bath (every other night), nurse E to sleep, then the bedtime negotiations with A would begin. She’s in bed by  8:30, and then I have just enough energy to mumble a few words to my husband, maybe get a little more work done, and then face-plant into bed around 10:30 or so.  Laundry and housework would pile up until the weekend, and then I’d spend the majority of my free time catching up with cleaning rather than engaging with my children.

Perhaps this sounds overwhelming to you, or perhaps this sounds like a mirror image of your day. Either way, I decided it’s not what I want anymore. I’ve tried to stop comparing myself to other moms as a litmus test of whether or not I’m doing the right thing. After all, people do all sorts of crazy things for money, and that’s perfectly ok for them. Some choose to dance on a pole, others choose to carry a weapon for their country, and others choose to forge their own paths. I, for one, will not be dancing on a pole or carrying a weapon (don’t worry mom), so I guess that leaves forging my own path.

It’s funny, I don’t remember “career day” in high school ever including non-traditional career paths. In fact, my only real memory from career day was licking hundreds of envelopes for a local insurance agency who took advantage of the free labor on job-shadow day (and who wouldn’t take advantage of that?) Oh yeah, my other memory was the headline of the recap article in the high school newspaper, “Juniors Get First Hand Job Experience.” Yep. Actual headline. I believe the teacher sent it to Jay Leno for his “Headlines” segment, but I’m not sure it ever made an appearance.

If you’d asked me in high school what I’d be doing shortly before 30, I probably wouldn’t have imagined this. I  thought I would wind up exploring the world, writing for some travel magazine. While I would still love to pursue that dream someday, I’m content to explore the world through the eyes of my precious children.

And I’ll need to pick up a little side work to pay the bills, so if you know of any travel magazines who’d like to send me on an all-expenses paid trip to some exotic locale (and provide a take-along nanny for my kiddos), let me know!

I’m taking the plunge. Here goes nothing. And everything.

36 responses to “The Plunge

  1. Thank you for this, I laughed and I cried reading it. I could have written this myself-as a mother of a 3 year old and a 3 month old, I'm almost 30, and not yet 2 weeks ago I left a career I loved to be with my children during the day. I'll be following this closely.

  2. Congrats on making such an exciting, difficult, life changing decision. Leaving my career behind to stay with my punks has been one of the very best choices I have ever made…Even if there are days when I wish I had a job to go to!

  3. Hello there! I think you're the first person to ever comment on my blog that I didn't know. This is huge for me! 🙂 Let's stay in contact as it sounds like we have many things in common.

  4. You are up for an adventure! A great one. A crazy one. A repetitive one. A drive you mad one. A just give me 5 minutes to use the bathroom one. But at the end of everyday, you will count your blessings. You will rejoice that you heard your child call his butt "Magical" because poop comes out of it. You will cherish those moments that you would have otherwise missed. I'm so happy for you Cat! I can't wait for our pool dates!!

  5. Oh thank you Ashlei! And I have a feeling that Anna and Cooper (Coo-Coo) will be mischievous buddies. 🙂 I'm looking forward to finding out!

  6. I toggle between crying and stomping my feet…but I am proud of you and your strength to make such a decision. I would like to point out that, as your coworker, I have never crapped, vomited, or snotted on you. Although, there is a first time for everything! To quote a favorite line from the movie that mad me fall in love with Johnny Depp, (What's eating Gilbert Grape?), "No, it's not goodbye. It's good night…we are not going anywhere." TT

  7. Cat, I like the title CHO of the ______ Family (Chief Home Officer)! It suggests the responsibility and honor this position deserves.

  8. Ah, so glad you linked me to this! Clearly you know exactly what I am going through. It’s an impossible choice, one that will never reveal proof that you did the “right thing”. Like you the overwhelming factor in my decision was that I will never get this time back. They will only be babies for so long and I just don’t want to miss it. There will be jobs (I think) but there will never be another 3yo and 1yo waiting to devour everything I want to show them and tell them.

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