Balance, Health, Work

Month Five: The Leap

Month 6 and year 31 may be the most exciting yet.
My beautiful, present reality.

31 tomorrow. You don’t need to wish me a happy birthday. I am happy enough.

This week I wrote my letter of resignation with tears in my eyes. A blessing to choose between two good things, but hard to let go. My school has become part of my identity. Those kids changed me. My coworkers are friends. It took forever to type. I wrote, deleted, wrote, deleted. I could not find the right words to express the difficulty of my decision. It is strange how much our jobs become entangled in our identities.

Still, my life has changed. I am not ready to leave my sweet girl for six hours a day. Maybe fewer would have worked, but I am grateful life chose for me. The words of advice that stuck with me most were about time. Jobs will be there when she is bigger and more independent. She will only be a baby once. My heart feels for every woman who has had to decide or wished she could.

Now our life changes. We no longer need to live five minutes from my work. We will move. Our house is already for sale. I am tired of living minutes from a bowling alley where gang members have killed each other and down the road from a motel closed because of prostitution. I feel for the homeless faces around the corner but it would also be nice to live in a bubble for a little while. It feels terrible to type that, but some days it is too much for my bleeding heart.

The funny thing about our neighborhood is, just like my work, I also love it. We have kind neighbors and many friends with little ones nearby. I laugh to think there is also a golf course, racquet club and Whole Foods in such close proximity, grand old houses tucked just beyond the chaos. Those same homeless faces remind me to take nothing for granted. Some days the ugly strip mall where they congregate is somehow beautiful set against the polluted sunset. Reality is crisp here.

Still, we are ready for change.

We might live with family for a few months as we regain our bearings. An untraditional approach but we are untraditional. Rick Steves once told a young family in Northern Europe they were unusual by American standards because they lived in an attic above their parents. They laughed. I guess we are unusual too, because a piece of me is called to go home, regroup, be part of a community again. We don’t have to, we want to, and that makes me smile.

I miss my village.
I come from a big family and more than anything, this drives me back.


I could use a village right now instead of just me. The Huffington Post article about missing the village hits home. It excites me to live with other women, share in the household duties, have someone else hold the baby for a bit, not be alone all day but still have the space to write and spend time with my daughter. Families all over the world exist this way, we can too, or if nothing else, it is a worthy experiment. After it is over we can return to our solo lives in a new neighborhood we have picked a bit more carefully this time.

On Sunday, Eloise will be five months old. Month five of her life has been about change. I have stood on the edge of a decision for so long and now it is in place. Yesterday, after the tears had dried and I impulsively pressed send on that letter of resignation, I lay in bed next to my daughter and smiled. There is no looming date of return to the real world. She is my real world for now.

I also get to write. Scary to think I have no excuses beyond the obvious need to care for a baby and keep a house in order and… Okay, there will always be excuses, but I am determined to make it work. I laughed last night as the words “living the dream” repeated a bit sarcastically in my mind. I am living my own dream, but it is different and more complicated than I ever imagined. The trick is feeling worthy enough to embrace it.

Balance, Hopes, Work

Deciding to Jump: To Go Back to Work, Or Not?

It's the sweet, quiet moments like these I hate to give up.
It’s the sweet, quiet moments like these I hate to give up.

I am standing on the edge of one of the biggest jumps of my life. Either I go back to work part-time as an intervention teacher and attempt to juggle my dream of writing into the mix of afterwork motherhood, or I take a deep breath, and jump straight into life as a stay-at-home mom and writer.

For many, the answer seems easy. JUMP. But the decision is much more layered than I expected. I love my school, my students, my coworkers. Some days I feel on the verge of going stir crazy at home. I have a part-time job waiting that may never be there again. The predictability of a work schedule, a paycheck, and good health insurance speaks to my cautious nature. Returning to work is somehow the less frightening choice.

With a face like this, it is hard to leave home.
With a face like this, it is hard to leave home.

Then, there is my daughter. Our biological strings are still firmly attached. When I am away, she is constantly on my mind, pulling at my body for milk. Every day she does something new, something I do not want to miss. While part-time work may give me the chance to catch many of these moments, it does not leave as much space for writing. As it is, I have to sneak my words in a few at a time, while she is sleeping or while I do not have to use my precious childcare hours for some other endeavor, like getting my teeth cleaned or running to the grocery store. And then, of course, there are other family circumstances that must go unmentioned.

A friend and I talked this week about how mothers feel pressured to be supermom and do everything, but the truth is, I don’t feel pressured, I just wish I could do everything. If only I could be in three places at once, mothering, writing, and working.  Obviously mothering wins on that list, but between writing and working, I do not have it figured out and the battle is agonizing.

Returning to work is the known. Taking the leap of faith is the unknown, but so far motherhood has been one huge leap of faith, from our decision to see if it happens, to hoping every moment of every day she would be born healthy, to the daily trial and error of new parenting. In order to make this jump work, we will need to restructure everything, to change the way we live.

Even as I write this, I feel aware of how lucky I am to be able to make this choice– but I also think the choice is within reach for many more women than they realize, it just requires a possibly uncomfortable amount of change.

If you have been in my shoes before, how did you come to a decision? Did you jump impulsively or was it clear one option outweighed the other? For me, it has been much harder to decide than I ever expected.