This year, I quit my six-figure job – without a backup plan. I am a Physician Assistant with ten years of experience, working in specialties everywhere from family practice to neurosurgery. When the most amazing boss in the world retired last September, there was nowhere to go but down. I’ve been leaning toward staying home for years- since our daughter was born five years ago as a matter of fact- but we haven’t been able to make it a reality until this year. One would think that five years would be plenty of planning time, but here we are!
What I’ve learned, in no particular order:
- We can live on a lot less than I thought. We’re talking half the money going out (and coming in!) than six months ago. Also, budgets. They’ve become absolutely necessary – and surprisingly helpful! And I’ve barely missed the things on which we used to spend so much money.
- I had to commit to quitting. Just talking and thinking about it was making me miserable. That feeling of being trapped in a job was making me less compassionate, and that is not how I want to be around patients.
- Being a full-time mom is a tough gig. It’s exhausting in an entirely different way. The conversations go on (and on!); every moment is a teachable one; every sight, both new and old is exciting.
- I miss our fantastic, superhuman, fun nanny! She still comes around every week, but our daughter begs to see her nearly every day. I miss her daily friendship and our chats. When she does come over, Anna tries to squeeze every single activity she can imagine into just a few hours.
- My daughter is the most amazing human! She’s seriously the coolest, and I get to experience that every day now!
- My husband is a rock star, working two (and a half) full-time jobs to keep us going. I feel like we get to see him even less now that I’m home, but I know that he wouldn’t change a thing. I seriously don’t know how I ended up so blessed to get to spend my life with this incredible man, my best friend!
- I have time to read again. I read ten books in the first two months and joined a book club. I feel like a teenager! Or at least read like one!
- I have so many new ideas! My husband and mom must be getting tired of all of my this-is-the-most-amazing-idea-ever chats and phone calls!
- I started a blog. Or rather resurrected a blog that had one semi-post from a decade ago. There’s so much to learn; it’s overwhelming!
- I’m reading the Bible more and completing Bible study plans. And if I can remember to do it early in the day, my entire day flows so much better.
- I’m journaling, although not daily. I’ve been surprised at my creativity but also at the seemingly mundane things that I hadn’t even acknowledged were bothering me. It’s hard work, but I feel more relaxed when it’s done.
- I’m losing my professional identity. I have mixed feelings about this. I haven’t missed the hospital once, which confirms that it was time to move on. But I now don’t have an answer when people ask what I do. After a decade of full-time work, “stay at home mom” feels strange coming out of my mouth and I still feel the need to explain my recent exit.
- I still get to see my former co-workers, but it takes a lot more effort. They’re busy working, and I have a constant five-year-old companion who would rather not sit through a boring two-hour lunch with mommy’s friends. I’m thankful for the nanny who allows me some time out of the house to catch up with friends.
- I’ve made new friends and I have been welcomed with open arms into the stay at home community around me. I’ve started doing life more with my neighbors, and that’s been a very good thing.
- I make time to live more intentionally. I feel more authentically me again, although that is taking some time. I am rediscovering who I am and what I like, my passions, what drives me, my purpose. I feel like I’m coming up for air after five years of being a full-time working mom.
- I’ve realized how much it’s not about me, despite how many times I’ve just written “I” and “me.” I’m seeing how much everyone struggles, and how sharing my struggles and failures and hearing the same from others makes us all feel less alone.
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