Thursday, February 3, 2011

Changing Expectations

Everyone I’ve talked to about my decision to quit and stay home with the kids has been supportive. I’ve discussed it with many of my close personal friends and a couple of my very close coworkers. Now, that my husband and I have determined that we need to significantly downsize our lifestyle to afford to live on one-income, the response has been a little mixed. Something on the order of, “What you’re going to move out of your house into an apartment?” Most people regardless of their professed progressive beliefs seem to think that the normal progression in life and careers and income and lifestyle should not be reversible. In fact, it is something to look down upon. Perhaps, once upon a time in the not too distant past I thought that way too. A dear friend made the decision to become a stay at home mom and could only do so by living in a studio apartment with her husband and young daughter. At the time, I thought she was a little crazy. Now, I understand—not that I’m ready to move into a studio though.

So here is the rub. I’m changing my expectations. I’m trading in a big house and spending money for time with my children. I understand the exchange, but I need to realize that not everyone will understand or even agree with my decision. I can’t change society’s or my friends’ expectations for me. I can only change my own expectations. My expectations for my own life will be a much smaller house or apartment than I live in now, little money for spending or extras, and a few giant steps backward in my career. My expectations will also be that I will have lots of time with my girls; time when I can focus on them without the mental distractions of a career and busy nonstop life. My expectation will be that I’ll pour out my life and energy into them, my husband, my friends and family instead of into a career. Perhaps, to some people who see everything in black and white and only see the numbers, it will seem like I’m losing rather than gaining in this equation. For now, I’ll work on my transforming my expectations and ignoring those of others around me.

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