Thursday, October 13, 2011

On Stopping Full-Time Work

Tuesday was my last day as a full-time employee. It was anti-climactic because the next day, I started working as consultant- essentially doing many of the same tasks I was doing the day before, but remotely. Writing from Myrtle Beach still feels very different from the State Lab. Eug is working across the room, Noah is napping, and I'm able to work as fast as I want to, without interruption (and watch the ocean at the same time).

While I was working and taking care of Noah, our lives were very rushed. We felt strongly that Noah should not be in daycare, and we also could not afford any kind of moderately ok Boston daycare. We were hugely blessed to both have work we liked, where we're treated well, and where we're doing things that are quite fulfilling. With Eug working from home, we also got much more time as a family than many dual-income families. But Eug and I both got very little time when we were not either solo-parenting or working. I woke up at 5am, rushed to work, tried to focus during work, rushed home so that Eug could rush through his work, while I took care of Noah and cooked, and then we cleaned and got ready to start over the next day.  Living in the U.S., the very high cost of health insurance means at least one person in a family absolutely needs to either earn a ton, or work full-time in a benefitted position. (or have a low enough income to qualify for state health insurance; obviously having an income that low is no picnic, either) The cost of healthcare seems like such a strange thing to plan families around, but it's a reality.

Despite feeling that it was unsustainable to keep going as we were, I feel decadent not to be working full time. It's been two days and already I wonder if I'm a slacker. And I've been writing a journal article! I want to redefine what work means for me, so that it isn't the arbitrary how-many-hours-did-I-spend-in-front-of-my-computer-at-the-office measure. It felt unsustainable, but so many people in the U.S. and elsewhere go as fast as we were going for thirty or forty years. I consider it the result of unfair blessing, more than extreme frugality (though we tried) or genius planning (though we tried), that we've left that incredibly fast pace of life.


leah said...

in my opinion minding children is the fullest time job that exists. working for money on top of that is just unfair.

Sarah P. said...

I had this conversation nearly word for word with my therapist this morning. Is slacker an appropriate career goal for someone in their 30s? Whether it is or not, closer to that status vs. where I am now is where I want to be. Enjoy!

Justine & Matthieu said...

I hear you! I love your blog, I really relate to it. I seem to be going through the same questioning since I've become a mother and I've been unfairly blessed too!

Concrete Gardener said...

I like the idea of giving up career goals in my thirties, Sarah. =).