Taking the plunge

This last weekend, my husband and I made a pretty big decision. After careful consideration, I decided that, once I leave my day job to have my baby, I’m not going to return. I will instead be staying at home, writing and looking after the kid.

This is a  huge, scary change for me. I’ve always been very work minded and aggressive in pushing my career. The idea of being a housewife terrifies me for reasons I don’t really understand, though it probably comes from being young and impressionable during 80s new wave feminism and the demonization of housewives as oppressed women being kept from their dreams. Of course, I wouldn’t be doing that. I’d be writing more hours than ever before, and still sharing all housework with my husband. I’d still have a job, I’d just be at home.

I tell myself it’s silly to be nervous about this. My life long dream has always been to quit my job and write full time, but the idea of actually doing it scares me shitless. I’ve always had a job, I’ve got professional skills that I’ve worked really hard to obtain and perfect. The idea of just leaving that to do something as famously up and down as writing feels so… reckless. My husband and I, we’re not reckless people, and even the thought of us doing something like this has a hard time finding a home in my brain.

But still, for us, it makes sense. We live in Athens, GA, a college town in the middle of nowhere Georgia famous for alternative music, great food, and cheap living. We can get by very well on not a lot by virtue of where we live and our embarrassingly cheap tastes (paperbacks and videogames instead of cable, it’s awesome). Also, my staying at home means avoiding childcare costs, which are astronomical even in Athens, more time spent cooking and thus less spent eating out, and all the other benefits of having someone putting a couple hours of quiet work into the house every day.

But more than all of this is the simple issue of time. I already don’t have enough hours in the day to work my day job and write books that are any good. Add a baby to that equation and we’ve reached the realm of the impossible. I know there are TONS of authors who balance kids, work, and writing (including this very blog!), but whatever angle I come at it from, I just can’t seem to make it work. Maybe it’s the way I write, maybe it’s my job, but something, baby, writing, or job, has to give. And since I’m stuck with one, and another’s my great dream, it looks like job is out the window, which really kind of sucks, because I’m lucky enough to LIKE my job.

This isn’t to say I’ll never go back to day work. If my Eli books tank (possible) or my kids get older and I find I’m going insane not having a job outside the house (more possible), I can always go back. My day job won’t disappear so long as people need websites to look pretty. And I think it’s that knowledge, knowing that I leave no smoldering bridges behind me, that actually gives me the courage to cowgirl up and take the plunge.

So, the numbers are run, the stakes are set, and come December, I’m jumping into the life of writer-mom-housewife.

In other, unrelated news, a cold front has just hit hell. Fifteen inches of accumulation are expected; bring your snowshoes if you’re planning a visit.

2 Responses to “Taking the plunge”

  1. 1 Terri-Lynne
    June 26, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Welcome to the world of stay-at-home-motherhood! No pay to speak of. No health benefits. No prestige and often enough, plenty of ‘just what do you DO all day’ derision. But the perks are endless. Baby firsts you’d otherwise miss, smiles and antics and having both quality AND quantity time with this little being you’ve NO idea how much you’re going to love–it’s the greatest job in the world. I’ve held mine for 27 years. What? Does that seem unrealistic?? The mistake people make is thinking that the job pretty much ends when the kids are all in school. No way. You’ll see.

    Staying home to be with the baby AND writing actual books that have deadlines and publishers and editors etc–now, woman, you’ve just taken on TWO full-time jobs! The good thing about staying at home is that the flex-time is fabulous. Once you and baby are in a routine, you’re writing time increases magnificiently. Compared to what it is now, juggling an outside job with writing, it’ll be a breeze.

    Once my youngest started school, I started writing. I didn’t go to college of any sort. I spent years writing, learning by trial and error. Being a stay-at-home gave me the opportunity to do that without having a heart attack or jumping off a roof. That youngest is now heading off to college. For the past few years, I’ve had from 9-2 every day to write before motherly, householdy duties demanded my attention. It’s a sweet life, but it’s not easy. There’s more to juggle than time. In this world where job and money = status and worth, it’s hard being someone who ‘stays at home.’ I’m still working on the ‘getting published’ part. You’re that much further ahead!

    I hope you (and the husband!) are eternally happy with your decision, my dear!

  2. 2 Rachel Aaron
    June 26, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Thank you, Terri-Lynne!

    Yeah, I’m looking at this as moving from 3 full times jobs (day job, writing, baby) to 2 (baby and writing). I’m eternally inspired by people like you and everyone else who manages kids and writes. I hope I can keep it all in line!

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