Around July, I experienced some panicky moments where I felt like maybe I wasn't cut out for the library life. But then I recovered. However, in the meantime, I did some serious evaluation of my life, thinking about my kids, my job and my happiness.
Library work makes me happy. But being with my kids and being able to take care of my family also makes me happy. I looked at a few things when I did this internal evaluation:
Of course. This is always a consideration. So, let's do some math: I made $40,000 a year. My drive was 100 miles each day, so I spent about $2500-$3200 a year on gas. I spent $1630 a month on daycare, so another $19,000 a year to keep my kids cared for while I went to work. So, already, I was only bringing home at most $18,000. If you then factor in the number of times I had to pick up dinner or buy fast, expensive food from the grocery store, I am certain I've wasted another good $1000-$2000 a year. My income was not augmenting our lifestyle in any significant way, in the end.
Each morning, I woke up at 5:45, which gave me about ten minutes to get myself ready for the day before I went and assembled breakfast for the kids. My morning was intense, with literally zero minutes for relaxation between 5:45 and when I finally dropped my son off at 7:20. I would then embark on my 45-minute commute. I left work every day at 4:30, arriving home at about 5:15, at which point I would frantically try to assemble dinner before my husband got home with the kids between 5:30-5:45. Then it was a race to eat dinner, get the kids bathed and have a little time to play before bedtime routines started at 7:00. And after they went to bed, my evenings were consumed until usually about 9:00 with cleaning, laundry and preparing for the next day. I was lucky if I had an hour to sit down before I fell asleep at 10. The constant running meant that my only time to do anything of significance was on the weekends, so rather than plan lots of fun and exciting things for our weekends, it was filled with projects that had to be completed, and attempts to entertain the kids while I worked on things.
When it came down to making a decision on what to do, I knew I needed to make a change. And while it broke my heart into many pieces to decide to do it, I knew that leaving work for a while was really the only thing I could do to improve my situation. It's going to mean a small reduction in income, but almost immediately after making the decision, my husband got a raise that almost negates the difference in salary.
So here I sit, on my 14th day since I left work on December 15. And in a few days, my daughter's daycare will end, and I will officially be a Stay-at-Home Mom. Still, I can't bear to leave libraries in total, so I will continue to do book reviews for Reference and User Services Quarterly, and have already told my boss that I'll be happy to come in and volunteer my services when they are needed.
I know library work is where I belong. I look at this as a pause button on my career and not an end to it. Libraries inspire me, and I can't imagine never working in one again. But for now, my kids and my family need me to be there for them in ways I couldn't be while working so much. It's a decision that was so difficult to make but was the right decision for me and my family right now. I look forward to the adventures I'll have at home, and I will be excitedly awaiting the right moment to jump back into the world of library work.