The road not taken

I kid. Lots of people take this road, I just didn’t know when or if I would be one of them.

baby Next week is my last week on the Hill, working for The Good Congressman. By the end of this month I will be at home full time with the little oyster and I. can. not. wait.

An old classmate who saw my announcement on Facebook sent a short note saying she and her husband are also considering what is next for their young family and asked how we arrived at this decision. Sometimes it is hard to sort through all the options, particularly when you’re in the middle of things, and someone else’s story or perspective can be helpful.

In the end, for us it came down to cost and quality of life.

This is our story:

On February 15, a friend asked if we had dressed the little oyster in a special outfit for Valentine’s Day, the day before. The sad fact was no, we hadn’t–I hadn’t even seen my daughter dressed that day. She was in pajamas when the husband and I left for work and she was in bed by the time we got home. That sucked and that day I applied for a job in Old Town Alexandria, two minutes from home.

I got that job–Director of Government Affairs–and the day the executive director was supposed to send a written offer, he instead emailed to say they were reassessing their needs and wished me the best of luck. Suddenly my raise-in-pay, closer-to-home, easier-hours work alternative was no longer on the table. Obviously God had a reason for that, although we didn’t see it in February.

That’s when our conversation began. I realized I didn’t want a new job at all, I wanted very badly to stay home with the oyster. The husband wanted that for us, too.

Easter came, and the husband, the oyster, the little sister, and I went to the old home state to see family. The husband and I both interviewed for very promising jobs while we were there and believed that either one of us getting either one of them would answer all our questions. I shushed the little voice in the back of my head that told me I would be sad to leave our little home near the Potomac so soon.

But we didn’t get either one of those jobs and then the conversation got serious. The little sister had plans to go full time at her weekend job in the spring and we would need a new care situation for the little oyster.

I called reputable day cares, near and far. The earliest anyone could get her in was next February. But who cares? The husband and I realized that we didn’t even want her in a day care. (Before she was born we had put ourselves on a Capitol Hill day care center waiting list, the shortest one we could find–we were #140.)

Next stop was a new nanny. I joined nannyshare websites and was quickly inundated with offers and pages-long biographies of women who promised to “love little child as my own, as you do, her mother.” Umm, no thank you. I removed myself from nannyshare websites.

Then one of our office interns offered to post an ad for me on her church’s listserv. Other moms at our own church who had posted ads for nannies had come up short. Alright, I figured–if the Presbyterians didn’t want the job, I’d try the Mormons.

Very quickly I had a short list of promising candidates. I emailed with them and one in particular stood out. I knew the asking price for a private nanny in this area was going to be a bitter pill to swallow. Still, this young woman seemed to be just what we were looking for. I again shushed the little voice in the back of my head that said figuring out logistics–from having enough building keys to how to pay for late days at work to how we would fit four adults, a baby, and a Rottweiler in the condo in the mornings before work–was going to be a nightmare. I also ignored the ulcer that was forming between the time I asked her required salary and the time she replied.

I shouldn’t have worried. Her answer was the last straw we needed to confirm the choice we had been leaning toward for a few weeks. Her asking price was my entire take-home pay every month. Plus some.

On top of the financial considerations was the very real feeling that our quality of life was suffering. As Congress has gained momentum this year (and they have, even if you don’t see a lot of progress back home), the number of bills on the floor increases and days in the office get later. Twice this week the husband and I have come home after the little oyster is in bed. The only reason I haven’t cried about that is because I know that starting next week it won’t happen again.

Regularly being at work late, being here physically and mentally, was bringing me down. Capitol Hill is a young woman’s job.

Such long days at work meant I haven’t been able to take care of my house and my family the way I want. I can’t keep things as clean as I would like. We eat out more often than we should. Our evenings are rushed. The laundry piles up. A simple Target trip means we don’t see the baby before she’s asleep.

Everything came together in the perfect storm and pointed us to our decision: My time and energy will be better spent full time at home. Once we decided I’d put in my notice and the husband will look for a new job that pays better, we had complete peace. And now I’m really, really excited for my retirement.

This is an expensive area of the country and we had to agree to changes in our discretionary spending but we’re confident we’ll be fine on that front–the little oyster isn’t the only frugal one in the house. There are no down payments in our near future and that’s ok for us; it’s nice that we live in a vacation spot in the meantime.

I want to be home with the little oyster. I like my job but I love being in the company of my little girl. Today The Good Congressman, in telling me goodbye and good luck, said that my analysis of today’s votes was further proof of his opinion that policy is my niche, I have hit my stride, and I will be missed. I told him thank you, it’s nice to leave on a high note.

Leaving the Hill to be home with our daughter was an easy decision for us to make and I’m ready for next week’s retirement. My recent diagnosis of sciatica, about which my doctor said the worst thing I can do is sit all day at a desk job, is, I think, God’s way of confirming we’ve made the best choice for our family. Recommended treatment for this sciatica? Walking and swimming. Our pool opens this weekend and the little oyster already has her suit. Bring it, future. We’re pumped.

photo(24)

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5 thoughts on “The road not taken

  1. I love the way you traced the decision-making process and all the “well, we thought about X, but then Y happened” events along the route. What a ride for you, the past several months. Happy adventuring together, baby de’oyster’s family!

  2. What a great read! Even though, sometimes, the days might seem much slower at home all day than they felt while you were working, you will come to love the pace of life. After I quit my full-time job after my first was born, my little brother told me, “You seem happier than I’ve seen you in a long time.” Yep.

  3. A) I may have gotten misty.
    B) I just realized that in the top pic she looks JUST like our dad right after he comes out with an epic Papa Pun.
    C) You two are so joyful in the swimsuit picture! I love it!

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