Aside from being disheartened with my nanny situation, being disheartened with my work situation was the other big reason behind my momamorphosis from working mom to stay-at-home mom. The truth is, I have always been a big nerd. In first grade, I put my head down on my desk and cried for an hour the first time I didn’t get 100% on a spelling test (and the gumball that came along with it). I recently read that sad little story in a note from my teacher, Mrs. Randall, which my mom had saved. My mom thinks my teacher shared it to show how smart and dedicated to learning I was. I think it was a polite plea to send me to therapy. In any event, this need to always get an “A” (and gorge on candy) has pretty much shaped my life to this day in both good and bad ways.
On the good side, I’ve always loved school and done well. On the bad side, the only passion I developed in my 19 years of education from Kindergarten through an MBA is a passion for getting good grades. I never gravitated heavily toward a particular subject and I was undecided with respect to my major in college for the first year-and-a-half – that’s a long time. I ultimately chose finance and accounting because it is what my dad does, I was good at the academics of it and it would allow me to get a job that would pay enough to cover NYC rent after graduation, not because it really spoke to me.
My first job in real estate at an investment bank fell in my lap through a contact and my course was set. Work followed the same pattern as school – it was the positive feedback from bosses and colleagues that drove me, not the content of the work. For a long time, it didn’t strike me that there was anything wrong with this kind of value system. Doing a good job at work felt good, I appeared to have a successful career to the outside world and somehow those things made me content. But then everything changed when Addy and Zack came along. Suddenly, the “good jobs”, the pats on the back and the titles meant nothing to me compared to the little smiles and giggles that awaited me at home. I increasingly felt that I only really wanted to be leaving those sweet faces each morning if something more profound was happening where I was going. To me, profound meant contributing a substantial share of the household income, impacting other people’s lives in a meaningful way or doing something that truly engaged me, made me feel more alive, and therefore made me a better version of myself and a better mother and wife. Because none of this was happening when I walked out that door each morning (and because the nanny situation was less than ideal), I made the leap and resigned.
Staying at home is not the end goal for me though. Finding that perfect, “have-it-all” state as a mom is tricky and “have-it-all” means something different for every individual. For some, having it all means being able to stay at home with the kids 100% of the time. For others, being able to have kids and dominate a demanding job is the end-all be-all. For me, it’s something in between. But before I can figure out what ratio of family to work is my ideal, I need to delve deeper into what kind of work truly deserves to be a piece of the “all” I want to have. I now understand that the work part of my equation isn’t just about a paycheck or a breather from the kids or a pat on the back from grown-ups. It has to be more meaningful in some way so that years from now, when my family and I reflect on the time I spent away from them to work, we can all be proud of what I was doing and why I was doing it.
In the meantime, I’m settling in to an environment where my bosses are three feet tall and the feedback I get is mostly whining and crying that I’m not working fast enough. But that’s OK because I’m passionate about the content. 🙂