“What made you decide to make the switch?” people ask me, when I tell them I’m leaving work to be a stay-at-home mom. The reactions I get to my news are varied and sometimes interesting. Sometimes curious, sometimes puzzled, but mostly positive and encouraging. Something I’ve noticed out of conversations with friends and acquaintances who’ve made the same choice for their families is how they talk about the choice as a process rather than a single event or decision. I hadn’t thought of it that way until recently, as evidence of a long-term transition-in-progress begins to appear in our everyday lives: the stress, the planning, the ways we’re doing things differently already. And here, all along, I’d been thinking of it as the day I leave work, even that moment I walk out of the building for the last time having left my security badge behind on purpose.
When my husband and I talk to those who’ve done this already, whether one spouse left work as soon as contractions were less than 5 minutes apart, or after the family was complete and the daycare bills were more than one of the two incomes, we’re assured without hesitation that we’re doing the right thing. We’re also comforted in knowing that this change is a process, not flipping a switch. And like any change, it can be uncomfortable and scary. We’re having to learn to think and behave differently, approach our priorities in a whole new way, let go of old habits that don’t serve our new lifestyle. When I read back to the beginning of this blog, I’m reminded how much thought we put into this over the last 3 months, how much we wanted it long before that, and how much we’ve planned and prepared to make this change.
I always assumed that people who stayed home with their kids just did it. They were lucky enough or rich enough and that was that. But it turns out that a lot of families are like us. They weighed the options, planned, waited, worried, and at times struggled. I’m sure there are those whose transitions were effortless, natural, and unencumbered by money woes, career worries, or trepidations of failure. But at the end of the day, we arrived at this switch in a way that will secure us in our purpose, reminding us of how much we felt this decision was worth to our family, and that we’ve come too far to give up.
We’re doing pretty well despite being a little [very] terrified. We haven’t fought much, and our extra effort to be patient in parenting is working most of the time. I’m doing more of the housework, and he’s working longer hours. The breadwinner is becoming the baker, and vice versa.
1 week, 3 days.