I have developed a new sense of optimism and contentment. I am at peace with the choices I have made in life, and I suddenly feel more free than I ever have before.
I’ve written before about my attempts to declutter. I’m still working on that as an on-going project, but I don’t need to just declutter my possessions, I need to declutter my mind. I’ve been trying to simplify.
Right now, at this point in my life, the thing I need to simplify is my career.
Here’s the problem I’ve been having: when Wildling was a baby, I started working part-time. However, in my field, nobody accepts that you are only in the office part-time. Things are always dictated by other people’s schedules, and I was stressed out a lot trying to manage childcare while giving my clients the impression that I was completely competent and had it all together. For awhile, it worked, and I was optimistic. But then I got pregnant with Mellow. I thought I could still do it all. I thought I could still work, have Wildling in school, and use some child care (thank you, in-laws!) for Mellow.
But everything is so fractured all the time. I feel fractured all the time. Everyone has conflicting needs, and my needs have always been secondary. I felt like I was always being torn in a million pieces. While home with Mellow, I worried that I wasn’t working enough, that my office bills weren’t going to get paid, that I’d miss an important call because I was changing a diaper. While at work, I was often sitting at my desk too overwhelmed by all my commitments to be able to function well, and I would fall behind in everything I needed to do. Meanwhile, my need for regular consistent childcare became a problem. Every time things started going well, something would happen. Great-grandma would get sick, so my mother-in-law had to go take care of her, leaving me with nobody to watch Mellow. Wildling would get sick and have to miss school, so guess who had to take care of her? The in-laws went on vacation for a couple of weeks, so Will had to scramble to take off from his work to cover Mellow so I could go to client appointments. Things like that just kept happening, and I bore the stress of all of it, because I wanted to work. I wanted to feel successful, event though I obviously wasn’t. I wanted to feel like having children didn’t make me give up my options, give up my dreams, my plans, myself. But it did.
I’ve come to accept it. With all the recent illnesses in my family, and all the frustration that my needs are always secondary to everyone else’s. I’ve realized that I can reduce my needs. I can minimize my stress. I can quit my job.
The lease on my office is up at the end of June. I will not renew it, even though the idea of giving it up makes me sad. I love my office. I love my office furniture. I love my client chairs, that I recovered in blue flowered fabric. I love my filing cabinets that are painted bright blue. I love the paintings hung on the walls, and the row of framed diplomas that contribute to the illusion of my success. I love sitting in my chair and looking around and thinking “I did this. This is mine.”
I’m planning to take a year off, until Mellow starts preschool. Then I can go back to work. I’ll do some volunteer work in that time, and I will maintain my professional relationships and continue to attend events (I kind of have to, since starting in May I’ll be board president of one of my professional organizations). I’ll maintain my professional blog, though I won’t stress over getting posts up all the time. But that’s it. I won’t be advertising, I won’t be bringing in clients, I won’t be worrying about having enough money to pay rent and insurance.
Since making that decision, I’ve felt like a burden has lifted. I feel lighter, freer. I know that I’m making the right choice for myself and my family. I gave it a try, it didn’t work, and since we are in the fortunate position that I don’t have to have a second job (child-rearing and supervising Will being my primary job), then I won’t do it right now.
I feel an optimism now, one that I haven’t had in a long time. I feel like giving up my work, which a year ago would have signified failure, now signifies success: I will be able to successfully manage my life and pull the fractured pieces back together. I will no longer have the burden of having the stress of managing my business hanging over me, and I will no longer feel so torn trying to get everything done.