Today I dropped off the official notice that I am taking another year of leave from my job. They offer two years of unpaid leave, and I'm taking it....I consider myself pretty lucky, actually, most employers wouldn't offer such a thing.
In August when I notified them of my first leave, it was a wrenching decision. I was on my own (with family around me, but financially independant at least) for several years before I was married. I am a very independant person, and I enjoy that. Getting married worried me because I was scared of giving that up. Having children scared me for the same reason. Both things turned out to be fine. But to give up my job, which I loved (despite all the moaning and wailing and complaining I would do sometimes) was really very terrifying. I would no longer have my own income. Sure, Hubby and I are good about money things. I knew I wouldn't have to worry about money and things getting paid and so on. I also knew that things would be much tighter on one income. Manageable, but a large change in lifestyle from what we enjoyed. And we weren't exactly party animals to begin with. Knowing that I was responsible, in part, for the money coming in and going out was very very important to me. I don't like to have someone else pay my credit cards, or to ask someone else for money. Even if that person is attached to me for life and someone I trust above all others. It didn't matter.
Then there was the matter of identity. Who would I be without my job? Would I just be Tiny Man's mom? I get that a lot anyway, no way that was changing. Would I be just another stay at home mom? Why did that bother me so much? My job, what I did at my job, and the quality with which I performed my job were a very large part of my identity. Not to mention all the contacts and outreach and involvement I had with the larger community of people I had met, yes, through my job. I won't even go into the fact that so many of my closest friends worked at the same job. Deciding to stay home was a huge decision for me.
Today, however, today I felt...well, I felt light. I am not stressed out. I am not groaning about the amount of work I have to do or about the attitudes I have to deal with. Today I went in, I held Tiny Man out to be admired, I smiled and said hello. I chatted with my boss, a man I do like. I chatted with people I ran into. And I couldn't wait to get out of there. I could not wait to get out, get into my car, and be free. I realized today that, yes, staying home agrees with me. It agrees with my independant streak, it agrees with my sensibilities, and it agrees with my inner Martha Stewart, perfectionist slut that she is. I realized that not working is really very simple for me, and that working is NOT who I am. Also, by staying at home, a large part of my identity is, in fact, linked to Tiny Man, but that is okay with me for now. It is very very freeing and wonderful to be so happy doing something I always thought wouldn't agree with me. And the money? Well, I really don't miss the dual income. I don't. We have to plan a little more now. And we do things differently. Christmas was different, we have so many people to buy for that gifts were hand made (thank god for knitting) or small. No one really cared, and neither did we. Hubby and I often remark how we aren't really missing anything, we aren't deprived of anything. We are happy as clams. Budgeted clams, but happy budgeted clams.
Now that Stay At Home Mom vs. Working Mom argument that the media just can't let go of? We'll leave that for another day because that's something that gets me all revved up.