The first in a series of musings from a newly-minted stay-at-home mom.
I quit my job yesterday.
Actually, I quit my job two months, fourteen days, twenty-one hours and eight minutes ago. I gave my boss such a long notice for two reasons: (1) to give her as much time as possible to make a transtitional plan; and (2) to give my husband and me as much time as possible to plan for our own transition. You know, the oh-my-gosh-is-this-really-happening-can-we-make-it-work-I'm-so-excited-I-get-to-actually-be-a-stay-at-home-mom transition.
So, here I am, a newly-minted stay-at-home mom. Now what?
Yesterday I was ecstatic. I literally did a little dance when I got home (after putting the kids down of course). The soundtrack in my head went something like this: "I'm so excited. I'm so happy. I'm so excited. I'm so happy." I had a goofy smile pasted on my face all day, even when my two-year-old threw a temper tantrum and my one-year-old couldn't nap through her teething pain. My happiness was impenetrable. I was living the dream.
And then, as it so often does, reality hit me like a baseball bat to the forehead. I woke up today to anxiety dreams. Anxiety dreams about a job I no longer have. The lists of things to finish were racing through my subconscious head, spilling over into my conscious self as I opened my eyes in the dark. Worry and fear began to choke the elation out of me. I couldn't breathe. What had I done? I need that job. I don't exist without it. I need the stress to feel purpose. I can't actually be happy, actually get what I want, actually just be - living in the moment and enjoying every minute. My dreams don't get fulfilled; it doesn't work like that. I have to work harder or I don't matter. It is never enough.
I learned this way of thinking at my mother's knee. Though she would whole-heartedly disagree with that statement, I believe it to be true. She lives a martyr's life and subconsciously expects me to do the same. You do what you have to, not what you want to, pretending that the should is the want, deluding yourself into a false sense of happiness. If you're not worried, stressed, or overwhelmed then you're not really living. You clearly aren't doing enough if you actually have space to enjoy, simply enjoy, what's happening around you.
There is no time for living in that version of life. No, that version involves racing forward at the speed of light moving so fast that you have no light by which to see at all.
I have to unlearn one way of living in order to live out of my heart. It's not about her; she is not the enemy. I am. She did the best she could and taught me what she knew. This is about me. About me learning how to be me. And refusing to give my life over to others. Refusing to be the victim any longer.
I want to live a simpler life. I want to cherish every moment with my children, not hear about them from their caregivers after an exhausting day in the rat race. I want to lie on my back, watch the wind through the trees, take a deep breath, and pay attention to the feel of my son's hand in mine. Without the noise that has lived inside my head for the past eleven years in the work world. Without the constant fear that I'm not doing enough. Without putting them on hold so that I can answer one more email, make one more phone call.
I want to make my life about what I want it to be about, listening to my deepest desires and choosing to make them important enough to fulfill. Martyrdom be damned. Being a martyr is self-indulgent bullshit. It's not real love. I know that love is sacrificial but you must first have a self to sacrifice. Love your neighbor as yourself. You can not love without self.
I quit my job yesterday. I left behind one life to pursue another. I have started a journey. My journey. For the first time in my life, I am doing exactly what I want to do and not what I think others expect of me. It feels good. It feels right. And when I can get still enough to silence the anxious thoughts, it feels peaceful, hopeful, true.