Okay, it wasn't that dramatic, but doesn't saying "Today I resigned from my job" sound vaguely political and momentous? What really happened was I met with my boss/friend and told her I was planning to leave next month. I've been thinking on this for awhile, but I couldn't say exactly when the discussion began. Somehow, though, Noah and I arrived at the conclusion that I'd be better off at home.
I am so not getting into the stay-at-home vs. work-at-home vs. work-outside-the-home mom debate. Except maybe to say that I never thought I'd do well staying at home with my hypothetical kids. But that's just the thing: Until recently, my kids were hypothetical. And this?
This has proved the hypothesis wrong.
Ethan makes me want to bake cookies fresh every afternoon and present them to him with a cold glass of milk. I will gladly cut his sandwiches into dinosaur shapes, if he so requires. One of the best lunch dates I've had involved Chick-fil-A, the mall, and a pint-sized companion. I've never before had the inclination to applaud when someone goes poop. Fact: I love the way Ethan smells, even when he smells like pee and syrup.
I have grand plans beyond mothering, of course, because it's not my personality to end up surrounded in homemade pastries while wearing appliqued sweaters and folding my son's freshly laundered underpants. Despite all odds (and by "all odds" I mean "my righteous indignation"), I'm still in school, a little side project that has turned into a Real Thing. Some people just get Accounting or Business or Football or Baking, but I realized in college that being a student makes sense to me. I do academics the way other people do music. In a couple years' time I'll graduate (God spares us) with an M.A. in English and I'll have some broader professional options.
There's another reason to quit my job, though. This reason has always been there. The seed has been germinating since I was an elementary school girl lying on her bedroom floor concocting epic sagas about a pioneer family who lived in a mansionesque farmhouse of their own handiwork, a compound that included a covered outdoor walkway and plenty of fireplaces. In short, I'm going to write.
(Most likely not about that pioneer family. Unless things get desperate.)
For me, writing is my vocation, and I haven't spent nearly enough time seriously pursuing it. Yes, I'm leaving a job as a professional editor, a job that includes writing. But it's not my writing.
* * *
I always surprise myself when it comes to change. Sometimes I don't give a thought to whatever's been left behind, and other times I get that feeling that my brain is slowly pouring a cup of adrenaline down my body and it's pooling in my large intestine. Even though this is a fantastic change, I've certainly given it plenty of thought and endured many moments of the near-diarrhea sensation.
Sure it's a financial sacrifice, and that has its own set of hangups, but I also wanted to make it clear that it's the job I'm leaving, not the people: Michaela, one of the freest and most adventurous spirits I've ever met; Kathryn, perhaps the world's best confidante (seriously, she always knows everything before anyone else); Ashley, creative and generous and caring; Alissa, who is astonishing in her strength (and who designed this original Fierce Beagle header).
So while I was worrying over money and friendships, I developed the notion that this was a selfish decision. Last night I had the epiphany: I believed this decision was selfish because I know it will make me happy. When did I legislate that happiness is selfish, I wondered.
Noah has crunched the numbers (because I tend to puree them) and the truth is if I continued to work full-time, whenever my Dad gets a job we'd be putting Ethan back in daycare. And we'd still have to keep a second car with the payments and maintenance and insurance and gas that comes along. I may not be able to delve into our budget and come out unscathed, but when I worked the income to bliss ratio it was obvious that the equation wasn't balanced. Turns out, money doesn't equal happiness.
* * *
I fully realize the cliche of quitting my job to "work on my writing." It sounds pretentious and—perhaps worse—self-confident. Do I have a guarantee that I can and will write something worthy of publication? Well, no. Do I have an agent, a contract, an advance? Not yet. But is it so crazy to believe those things are possible? Is pursuing a dream at a time when so many people simply want work a frivolous thing to do?
Three years ago Noah asked for me to put my faith in him when he decided to join the police department. Today, he's returning the favor.