Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Life in the Fast Lane

For the past few years, I feel like I've been living life in the fast lane. No, not the rock&roll/sex/drugs/&alcohol fast lane. More like the career/marriage/house/babies fast lane. In the past 5 years, I graduated college, started my job, got engaged, planned a wedding, got married, got promoted, bought a house, moved cities, had a baby, and got promoted again. I'm exhausted just typing that.

Well, it's time to pull this mini-van over and cruise in the slow lane for a while. Life is passing me by and I'm going to take some time to soak it in before it's gone. Exactly one month before my 28th birthday, I quit my job. That's right, I'm joining the ranks of the stay at home moms. Just call me Sammie! As in SAHM-ie. SAHM = stay at home mom. Ok I'm really reaching now.

I never envisioned myself as a stay at home parent. Like ever, until maybe a year ago. Growing up, both of my parents worked... often multiple jobs, night shifts, deployments, while going to school... to make ends meet and provide a happy life for our family. Since I turned 15, I've always been employed too. Movie theater, ice cream shop, daycares, golf courses, on campus, internship, full time, part time. Hard work is in my blood, and something I assumed I'd always do.

Even when I first had Maddie, I didn't see myself staying at home. In fact, when I first returned to work, I was still on some sort of hormonal feminist watch-me-conquer-the-world kick. Imagine... I just had a baby, now I'm growing her with my pure liquid gold, I can balance a job and a baby and a crazy paleo diet and only sleep 5 hours at night in two separate blocks. I am woman, hear me ROAR!!!  As you might guess, that lead to exhaustion quickly. Once, when Maddie was sick with hand-foot-and-mouth and she couldn't go to school for a WEEK, Tom and I were trying to decide how to split up the week between caring for Maddie and getting our work done, and deciding who would need to stay up until 2am to get it all done. That's when the wheels really started turning for me. What if I stayed at home? Would our lives be easier? Happier?

For almost a year, we thought about it, talked about, weighed the pros and cons, looked at our budget, talked about it some more. And we ultimately decided that the best decision for our family is for me to stay home for now. Sure, it means big budget cuts, but the stress level in our house should decrease immensely. Now I'm not na├»ve, I know this isn't going to be a cake walk. Staying at home does NOT mean watching soap operas and painting your nails all day. It's cooking and cleaning, tantrums and messes, grocery shopping and errands; but it's also snuggles and kisses, books and crafts, play dates and outdoor adventures. I'm certain there will be times when I'm frustrated and exhausted, mumbling under my breath something about how I never should have quit my job, stupid stupid stupid. But I'm hopeful that for every moment like that, there will be sweet moments too. Milestones and learning and playing and loving.

I've explained to probably 25+ co-workers, friends, and family members why I'm leaving my job. And every time, it just boils down to the fact that I can't get this time back. Taxes and computers and desk jobs will always be there for me (in fact, I'm enrolling in a program with my employer that helps me keep my license current with the intention of coming back in 5 years). In the big picture of my career, this is really just a little blip on the radar. The 5 years I slipped away to be with my baby. My top boss told me as I was walking out of his office, you won't regret this. And he's so right, I won't.