Holy Cow, it’s really happening. In just a couple of weeks I will be changing from regular full-time job status to a 24-hour work week. I will be working 3 days per week (Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and will be a stay-at-home mom for the rest of the week. Craaazy, right??
I know, it’s really not a crazy or innovative idea. Lots of people do this. Lots of people are stay at home moms all week long. But it’s craaazy to me! To me, the one who has (privately, to no one) sworn to always hold a full-time job even after becoming a mommy. To me, the one who has (privately) scorned the idea of ever being other than a professional working woman.
I know, I know. Being a mom is my most important work right now, and if I were to quit my job altogether in order to raise my child at home, that would be a fine choice. Intellectually I know this. Emotionally, it’s not so simple.
I have been and still am a strong supporter of mommies who work outside the home. I know that, for a lot of women, it’s not a matter of choice but of necessity. For me, I have to say, it has been a choice. My husband and I could surely have made accomodations in our living expenses if I had decided to stay at home. To be honest, the thought of staying at home never even entered my mind. It wasn’t even a consideration.
You see, since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be two things: a mother, and a professional career woman. I daydreamed about both of these roles and knew inspiring women who did both well. My own mother was a school principal while I grew up. My career plans have changed a lot throughout the years, but my inner identity as a professional woman has not. It has taken me a long time to finally find myself in a professional position. First I was an undergrad, then a masters student, then a chaplain intern, then a chaplain resident (and with jobs in between), then finally a staff chaplain! Let me just say, chaplain jobs aren’t that easy to find — especially in a small town. So, the thought of leaving my job was just out of the question.
Like many women, I underestimated how difficult it is to balance work and family. Still, I was doing fine, I thought. Then one day while discussing this with a friend, she said, “Working part-time would be perfect.” Until she said this, I hadn’t even considered part-time work. But I thought, she is right. A few months later, I pitched the idea to my organization after coming up with what I thought was a good plan. They said no, and that was that. Or so I thought.
For the next several months, I have heard this voice inside of me telling me to “slow down.” I have felt so rushed. And the voice has been getting louder and louder. But, would I be happy working part-time? What about my career ambitions? (Yes, even as a chaplain I do entertain career ambitions such as moving into a leadership role in the future). And what about the pay cut? It’s not pretty, my friends, but the truth is that having a pay cut is a big blow to my ego. You see, just like it took me so long to reach a professional position, it has taken me this long to finally earn decent pay. When you go to school for so many years it’s kind of demoralizing to not make much money (like the kind I made during my first couple of years post-masters degree). Truth is, I like the money, but mostly I like what it represents. As in, my education was worth something. As in, my working skills are worth something.
So anyway. I had to get over all of that and say YES, voice, YES, I will listen. I will slow down. So I kept coming to my supervisors with new ideas for going part-time. And it really seemed as if it wasn’t going to happen. I had started looking for part-time work elsewhere, and I grieved the fact that I was probably going to leave my hospice work. And then it happened. It was almost out of the blue. I had a meeting with a couple of supervisors on Tuesday, when I was given the OK to work a 32-hour week. Then, on Friday, my supervisor told me I can make that a 24-hour week. Unbelievable!
So here I am. Nervous, and excited. Mostly excited.