Monday, January 4

I got some 'splainin to do

Today I resigned from my job.

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.

41 comments:

Xbox4NappyRash said...

Good on you for going for it.

Can I have your old job?

May @ Anne and May said...

I'm a little teary. It all sounds very courageous to me.

Confession: Probably one of the biggest things holding me back from having kids is exactly this work-life balance.

So thank you for sharing how it all worked out for you--or is working out. It's very interesting, especially because I respect you to the hills and back.

And I know you can do this! I know it!

neon panda said...

YEAH! *applauds you* It takes a fearless person to do something so risky, well done! follow those dreams, and bake those cookies! :)

Bethany said...

WOW!!!

A) You'll love it.

B) Sometimes you won't.

C.) If you ever change your mind, there are always jobs out there to be had. Years with him are not forever there.

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

Yes, good for you!! You absolutely did the right thing and how exciting! I think you have a great plan and wish you much luck and success with your writing.
(I'm reading David Sedaris right now too...so funny!)

roysie said...

Bravo! You are an exceptional writer. Self confidence is 90% of the battle. I'm so happy for you... and little Ethan is one lucky guy. Any plans for a novel, short stories, poetry?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I'm so proud of you! We all know you have the talent to go out on your own. I'll buy your first book, I don't even care what it's about! That's a really big, fantastic, exciting, inspiring decision. I sure am glad to hear things are going well for you guys. Happy new year!!

Jesse K.

Idaho Dad said...

Congratulations on the new adventure.

Being a stay-at-home mom is awesome. Not as awesome as being a stay-at-home dad, of course. :)

Sarah Von said...

Yayayayayay! High five, you! I'm so excited for you and this new era of your life :)

Erin said...

Xbox—Do you want the job, or the opportunity to work with a bunch of cute young things?

May—Awe, shucks. I knew you'd be encouraging, and that knowledge means just as much as your actual words. Truthfully, I needed to work when Ethan was very small, for my own sanity. The balance is something you learn to strike as you go along.

Neon Panda—Thank you. I've always had strong intuition, so it doesn't seem as scary to do something I feel is right.

Bethany—That was precisely my reasoning.

Lisa—I so appreciate your kind words, and don't you just love David? (We're on a first-name basis, since I almost met him once.) Truly, he is one of my very real inspirations.

Roysie—At the moment I'm thinking of starting with a series of cohesive short stories/essays and being open to the possibility of them developing into a novel. I actually haven't done much poetry since college.

Jesse—It's comments like that one that make me nostalgic for the time when we lived a short walk away from each other. Heck, I'm even nostalgic for the after-school bus rides. Well, maybe that's taking it a bit far.

Idaho Dad—I'll be taking my cues from you. No pressure.

Meadowlark said...

Envious over here. I'd love to write again, just not sure if I have the talent or tenacity.

I miss school. But am forbidden to go (meaning: no more student loans) unless I have a plan besides: BECOME MORE EDUMACATED.

Being a stay-at-home mom with kids who are grown up and moved out is best ;)

Good luck my friend.

Meadowlark said...

Not that I was ever a stay at home mom once they turned 5. But NOW it's pretty cool.

(not trying to start any arguments there)

The Naked Redhead said...

Hey, wow, that rocks. Good for you...can't wait to read your book. :)

Costume Diva said...

Go get 'em Erin! I'm sending all my positive energy your way. I think you'll be great.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Erin!! That sounds wonderful!!! I too would buy any book you wrote. (and I'd even read it!) Go at it. Do what makes you happy and enjoy every minute of it!!!

Amy "Taylor"

Jennifer said...

Congrats on pulling the trigger - I know that took a lot of guts and was probably a bit terrifying at some points but you're right - the money-to-bliss ratio needs to work out or its just not worth it :) Oh, and now that you'll be home more often, do you want to watch our dogs since Will and I will finally be on the same schedule? LOL - just kidding!

The Bug said...

Can't wait to watch you on this new journey - knowing you it will be hilarious.

Dori said...

Wahoo! Come on in...the water's nice and toasty! :D

Forget the whole Mommy Wars...doing what makes you happy makes you a way better mom!

It would have been financial suicide for me to go back to work after the second baby...I had already made up my mind I was staying home but laying out the numbers convinced the other part of this dynamic duo. It was rough at first--adjustments to be made. Having someone believe in you is a pretty cool thing.

Mrs. Deputy said...

Welcome to the Wonderfully Frustrating but absolutely worth it world of staying home!

Maggie May said...

This is wonderful, awesome, soul happy news!!!!

Kate@And Then I Was a Mom said...

Staying home (and writing from there) is the most difficult, exhausting thing you'll want to do again. And again.

Congrats on the change.

Centsational Girl said...

Proud of you girl (fist bump) for taking this step - you're a brave soul on many levels !

Arjan said...

it's good to choose now then regret staying later.

Anonymous said...

Awwwww... I definitely will miss you here at the office, but I 100% support you doing what makes you happy. As long as you periodically bring your pint-size companion by so we can marvel at his accomplishments, that is. ;)

LauraL

Erin said...

Sarah Von—Don't even act like you're not one of my inspirations.

Meadowlark—Are you kidding? You're all kinds of talented and tenacious.

Costume Diva—I thought I felt some vibes coming from the Northeast...

Amy—Thank you! You crack me up, by the way.

Jen—I'm sure I could arrange a field trip or two over to your place to check on the pooches.

The Bug—If it ain't funny, it ain't worth it.

Dori—I know for sure that (at my current pay rate) having TWO in daycare would be nothing short of silly. However, there are no imminent plans for our second...

Mrs. Deputy—I know, how crazy am I to start staying home just as he turns two?

Maggie May—That just about perfectly captures it.

Kate—I'm hoping my creativity has room to grow here. But I don't think you can call a toddler anything but creative, ay?

Centsational Girl—I only hope I can be as productive as you at home. I'll be coming to you for tips.

Arjan—My thoughts exactly.

Catherine said...

Oh, wow! I'm really and truly looking forward to reading your work. I'm a stay-at-home-mum and we're... impoverished but happy :D

Sal said...

SO many congrats, Erin. I hope this doesn't sound sappy or condescending, but I'M SO PROUD OF YOU! And a wee bit envious.

SV said...

So if you ever run out of material (which I doubt will happen) just call me, I know I've filled your ears with abundant stories of love, lust and a fair share of drama and just so you know, there is no end in sight.

Also, you know where a couple of (wannabe) publicists can be found - keep in touch so we can help you out when you get your book deal.

I'm extremely happy for you Erin, not only does this bold move assure me there are dreamers still alive in the world but it also confirms there are people who know how to accomplish their dreams out there as well.

I wish you all the best and hope to one day find someone who believes in me as much as Noah does in you.

Lucky you.

Dawn said...

"When did I legislate that happiness is selfish"? Great quote.

Kudos to Noah for supporting you in your "resignation" (it does smack of intrigue when you word it like that--were you wearing a trench coat when you typed it? lol), and kudos to you for making a decision that was right for *you* and your personal situation concerning the at-home/working mum debate (the only "right" answer on that issue *is* what's "right" for you and your family).

I think you have so much talent for the written word, it would be a shame for you to *not* take time exploring your gift. Add my name to the list of pre-orders for whatever it is your muse inspires you to write.

Single Parent Dad said...

I wish you well, on what I am sure will be a joyous journey. U iz an awesome y-ter.

Bethany AKA Mother of the Munchkins said...

Not crazy in the least and so AWESOME!!! And kudos for side-stepping the quagmire of home vs. work. Everyone has to do what's best for them and their family. That said, along with much cheering and wishing you the best, thank goodness I wasn't drinking anything as I started to read this post. OMG, that picture... hilarious!!!

Earth To Mother Ship said...

Yahoo! I am stoked for you! A few years ago I quit a cushie network gig to go out on my own to write and create tv series. I wrote and pitched 12 series concepts in a year and a half. One sold. It was the least likely of the 12 and the most fun and most exciting adventure of my career to date. There is nothing quite like following your gut and in doing so the rewards are plenty. I'll be forst in line at your book signing. God Speed.

Earth To Mother Ship said...

Um, yeah I'll be FIRST not FORST in line. Dang, I haven't even been drinking what's with the type - o's? and on an editor's page. Le Sigh.

Slamdunk said...

God Bless you and the family. It takes a lot of courage to decide something like that, and I can't wait to read your stuff in the future.

Erin said...

Laura—I fully intend on making play dates for us. I mean, for Ethan and Malcolm.

Catherine—I'm adopting "impoverished but happy" as my new motto.

Sal—Not condescending at all. And I'm not the kind of girl to turn my nose up at the scent of sap. I'm happy (and blessed) to have your favor :)

SV—I know you're a dreamer, and I'm confident you'll find your bliss. And I'll take you up on that offer.

Dawn—I fully intend on making you one of my pre-readers (and I'm more than happy to return the favor, if you'd like). I need your insight and your talent on my side.

Single Parent Dad—This means you'd better watch what you say this summer on the walk, because I'll be scavenging for writing fodder.

Bethany—I'm so glad you mentioned the photo. It really deserved its own post. Taken, obviously, before he had grasped the purpose of the potty.

Earth To Mother Ship—I hope to glean from your success, and your enthusiasm truly gives me hope.

Slamdunk—It's still kind of surreal, to be honest. When the reality kicks in, I'll let you know. And I'm sure I'll be writing about it.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

Win-win I reckon!

thewarriorpoets said...

It was, ironically, on that long drive to north Texas that as I thought about writing, it occured to me if anyone should be getting published, it's you. So I'm not shocked by this revelation so much as I am now anticipating the results.

Melanie said...

Well, congrats to you on doing what makes you happy. I am a sahm but my son is now 15 yrs. old and in 10th grade:) My job is being a nester. That is what I do and do it with all my heart. I love it and wish everyone could do what makes them happy. I am glad that you are going for it.

mrs. fuzz said...

I am excited for you!! Very cool. I always look forward to reading each and every post. I will read anything and everything you write. Can't wait to hear about more of your "at home" adventures.

So what are you going to do if the band thing takes off? Then you'll have even MORE decisions to make!!!

Natalie said...

I commend you for your decision and don't think you need to justify it at all. I'm just grateful you've explained why you've chosen to quit one job so you can better pursue another.

I knew that if I remained a full-time secondary teacher and once my first was born, I wouldn't do a good job as either a teacher or mother, so I chose the latter. Now that #3 is on his/her way, I know I made the right decision but it was still hard because I REALLY love teaching.

Best of luck to you!

number2137 said...

Just catching up, and---props to you, E! You're a brave, smart, awesome gal, and Noah ain't bad either. :D Can't wait to hear/read more about the next adventure!
--Jocelyn B

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