It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.
At first, quitting my job felt like a difficult choice. It was one thing to wish I could stay home -- but quite another to turn in my resignation. For a few days after I gave notice, when people came to chat with me about it, I said it was a tough decision.
But the more I chatted, and the more I perceived different reactions to the discussion, the clearer it became that this choice was the right one for me. The only one I could feel good about, really. So I suppose it wasn't very difficult after all.
Several women said they did the same thing and never regretted it. They did freelance work and came back to the office when their children were older. Others worked full time and knew it was the best option for them, but were encouraging and supportive of my decision. Talks like these were enriching and positive. I felt inspired by smart women, both those who worked in the office and those who brought up babies all day, every day in their homes.
But more than once, I felt little pricks of negativity. It was almost like sitting on the back patio with a glass of wine and chatting with friends on a beautiful summer night -- I still got a few mosquito bites, and a fruit fly died in my merlot.
I've decided to ignore the bug bites and drink the wine anyway. After all, my glass was nearly full. It still tastes delicious.
Life is the sum of all your choices.
I'm not going to apologize or feel guilty about it anymore -- I'm thrilled at the prospect of being home. I can walk into Jack's room with a smile in the morning. I can have some fun picking out his outfit for the day. We can take a walk around the neighborhood when the sun shines. I can drink my coffee and watch the news while he beats up the toys hanging from his jumper. I can take him to doctor's appointments and play groups and the grocery store. Those things are really important to me. That is what I want to do right now.
I still plan to write, probably more than before. I still have professional dreams and aspirations. I know I have a career in my future. But right now, in the present, I have a baby -- and I want to see him during the day. That's really what it comes down to.
There is nothing wrong with going back to work. There is nothing wrong with staying home. Period. Everyone has to make the choice that feels right.
And some distant day in my professional future, when a new mom in the office tells me she's leaving, I will remember the good discussions I've had these past few days and the good advice I was given, by moms who chose to stay at work and those who chose to stay at home.
I will remember how it felt to walk away from a paycheck and a professional circle, but also how it felt to walk toward a time when my son was just starting to discover the world.
I will tell that new mom to cherish this time with her baby, to keep her eye out for good professional opportunities, and to be brave and confident in her decision. It takes guts. It's a leap of faith. But it's not a hard choice when it's the right one. And that's what it is right now, for me and mine.
The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.