I have not worked since November 3rd, 2011. To give any new readers a little background, the family business where I had worked the past eighteen years was sold and I chose to move on to a new opportunity that starts… well… now. But I have been off for about two months, and during those two months I have acted as a “Mr. Mom”, or a “stay-at-home Dad”, or whatever other term people choose to call it. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not sure I would have survived being home with the kids when they were toddlers. I read stories about stay-at-home parents on a daily basis via several of my blog subscriptions and it is a much different situation than being home with a pre-teen and a teenager who are in school part of the day. But I have enjoyed every last-minute of these two months.
I have been happier than I have been in a long time. My stress levels have returned back to what I would consider normal. I sleep better and I have had a brief opportunity to pursue some creative outlets. I have had time to breathe and think and philosophize and reflect. More importantly, I have connected with my kids in ways that I had not had the opportunity to at any other time in their lives. My wife has been working full-time while she has a staff member on leave and I have temporarily become the primary care-giver in many ways, cooking them meals, driving them to and from school and their myriad activities, being home with them during the holiday breaks and basically seeing a part of their lives that occurs during “normal working hours” that I, for the most part, had never really seen. We have sat together in coffee shops and Subway restaurants and other places and had conversations about school and life and family and friends. I have experienced what it is like to be a family that is more than just four people indiscriminately passing each other on the way to wherever we all need to be next. Unfortunately, while I have reconnected, my wife has admitted to feeling somewhat disconnected from them. I guess that is the ebb and flow of life in a two parent household.
If I could do this forever, I would, but financially, although we could continue to survive for a while longer, it is not realistic to do so. So, I move onto the next chapter. I will be self-employed and will keep a home office but will also be on the road for a portion of time. I mourn the loss of this freedom but understand that the challenge is to find a balance between a rewarding home-life and a consistent work schedule. I don’t know if I have that capability and I worry about which direction the scales will tip.
On the other hand, I will always remember these days, so relaxed and peaceful and contemplative… an opportunity I may not have again for a long time.