I had my first and only baby at 39. After enjoying the amazing Canadian maternity benefit, allowing me to take a full year off to be with my daughter, I returned to full-time work. The first few months were actually a pleasant respite from the non-stop attention that a toddler required. I enjoyed the adult interactions that work provided and being able to use the bathroom without worrying about whether my toddler was going to come crawling in, or would climb up on a chair and fall off.
But at about the 6-month mark, I started to feel the exhaustion. My husband was self-employed with a breakfast business downtown, and so I took care of daycare drop-off. I was up at 5:40 a.m. to get myself ready first, and would wake Natalie up at 6:40 to feed her and get her ready and out the door for 7:20. This was all driven by a stringent critical path. If I was off schedule by even 5 minutes, my day would be thrown off, because I would then hit an even more miserable rush hour commute, getting me into the office later, meaning I would have to leave later, which would result in having dinner ready later, which would mean getting Natalie to bed later which would mean the next morning’s wake-up would be miserable, and I would be stuck in this circular hell until I could get things back on schedule over a weekend.
At six months, I asked my boss about the possibility of a part-time work arrangement. He was extremely supportive in front of me, but then left me with the responsibility of following up with Human Resources without championing the idea at all. After almost a year of following up to no avail, I realized part-time was never going to become a reality and decided I would just have to keep at it. With my husband self-employed, I was the primary source of debt payment for the business’ line of credit as well as for the household income. There was no way I could give up the cushy income. “It would be irresponsible, thoughtless, selfish,” I told myself.
Flash forward another year.
There were two defining moments that crystallized everything for me at this time in my life. One was a day when I had to stay late at the office, past Natalie’s bedtime. I had missed an entire day of my daughter’s life to keep my employer happy. The next was at my annual physical where my doctor told me my cholesterol was elevated and I had to make lifestyle changes. Now I was just pissed off. I couldn’t even get around to folding laundry until 3 weeks after; where was I going to find the time and energy to fit a regular workout routine and a healthy meal planning and preparation routine into my life? Every night, my husband and I had the same conversation: “I’m so exhausted; is this all there is to life? I can’t believe I’m going to bed at 9:30 just to do this all over again. I feel like I’m running to my grave.”
That summer, my husband – bored and disenchanted with his business – found a buyer and sold out. This opened up a small window of opportunity for both of us to take time off and then to plan what we really wanted to do when we grew up. So I quit my day job.
I am fortunate enough to have found a small consulting project with another prospect in the hopper. But I feel my ultimate calling is entrepreneurial in nature. I am researching some new business ideas and in the meantime, because I love to write and to express, I decided to try my hand at blogging. I invite you to share your thoughts and comments with me – positive or negative – anytime, and will always try to reply within 1 to 2 days.